Alcohol and weight control

You came for help with your weight and perhaps you were a bit surprised how much time was spent inquiring about your drinking habits. In fact, you shouldn’t be surprised, since alcohol can influence weight control in a number of ways.

The obvious connection between drinking and weight is calories. Consider, a standard 1 1/2 oz. shot of vodka has about 100 calories, while a 12 oz. beer has about 150, and a 5 oz. glass of wine about 125. Of course, the question is, how many and how often…?

A second consideration is the impact of drinking on eating. Do you tend to nibble on salty, high calorie food (chips, pretzels, cheese and crackers) while sipping your aperitif? Do you linger over a bottle of wine and indulge in 2nd or 3rd helpings while doing so?

On occasions that you associate with alcohol (“A pizza goes so well with a beer” “A steak and a bottle of red are a perfect combo”), the “script” may entail a complete relaxation of your usual limits, the “goal” being the indulgence of desires/pleasure-seeking.

Last, but not least, eating, drinking and socializing are often strongly connected, which may include friends who encourage or even “insist” that you “join the fun”. These types of friends may be very nice, super-sociable and extroverted, and have a strong need to do things with others. These are the ones who strongly endorse the idea that “nobody likes to drink alone.” They are the life of the party, and it’s hard to say no to them. You might even feel guilty, like an antisocial party-pooper if you do. So you feel a pull to ignore your own needs and desires and just go with the flow. You might think, “it’s ok, it’s just tonight, have fun,” trying to convince yourself that your decision to put your pushy friend’s needs before your own is ok. This is a good example of excuse-making, in this case designed to save you from having to express your needs clearly, to stand your ground, and to risk a conflict with your friend.

Drinking wine is just a part of life, like eating food.  Francis Ford Coppola

Drinking alcohol is a part of many people’s lives, but obviously sometimes too big a part. The average Canadian adult drinks the equivalent of 55,000 calories of alcohol per year (or 442 glasses of wine, for example), which translates to 15.8 pounds of body fat. Of course, some people do not drink at all, some drink less than average, while others drink more, or a lot more, than average. It is easy to see that some people are drinking the equivalent of more than 50 pounds worth of alcohol calories per year!

In moderation, alcohol does not prevent weight control, and may even have health benefits (although that remains a complicated and unresolved issue). In the process of trying to lose weight, get fit, and increase health and wellness, one’s relationship with alcohol must be evaluated honestly. In some cases, it may ultimately be easier to stop drinking entirely rather than struggle to define and establish moderation. For others, drinking habits can be modified and moderated successfully. This is something that we evaluate with the individual patient, to determine the best strategy. Given the importance of alcohol in weight control, this is an issue well worth addressing.

Zero Excuse GO is a comprehensive approach to weight control that can help you understand the causes of your weight struggle and to develop effective strategies to achieve your health and lifestyle goals. Our program combines an expert multidisciplinary team with innovative technology that keeps us connected daily, so we can help you be your best self. If you’re looking for the optimal help and support throughout your weight loss journey, do not hesitate to contact us at Zero Excuse GO.

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