Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Drinking Diet?

Today is an Off-Day or Cleanse Day

So who says dreams don't come true?

A study published in the Journal of American Medicine is getting some attention lately. Because it claims women who are moderate drinkers are actually less likely to gain weight than women who don't drink at all - or those who drink to excess. (Sorry, fellas, this one's for us - though if you're interested, Ms. Functional does have a great weight loss secret below.)

Researchers believe that moderate drinkers metabolize alcohol differently - and that it affects everything else they consume. Because these women were also able to eat more food than teetotalers or heavy drinkers, while still maintaining a leaner overall body weight.

The experts are still zeroing in on all the factors at play here, but they believe that people who learn to moderate their alcohol intake may also be more health conscious in general - and that may play a role.

"Moderate" in this case means 1-2 drinks a day - and these are not super-sized drinks. But 4-oz glasses of wine or 1.5-oz of liquor. And none of this applies if you're saving your drinks to binge on the weekend - because the body doesn't adapt to those kinds of drinking habits, so the excess calories in the alcohol will be stored as fat instead.

Does this mean we should drink every day? 

I don't. As you probably know. I take two months off a year and two days off every week. But I will tell you that even with this plan, my metabolism must have adapted to alcohol consumption in much the same way as moderate daily drinkers because I have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of about 19 (18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal). I think an overall healthy diet and lifestyle contributes to this, but one way or another, I'm quite lean. 

As for keeping alcohol intake down to 1-2 drinks a day, congratulations if you've been able to do it. If you have, you really don't need this plan. 1-2 drinks a day is not alcohol abuse. 

However, if you're reading this blog, chances are you left "moderate" in the dust years ago. Making the jump from alcohol abuse to moderate drinking is a real challenge. In fact, it is the challenge for the problem drinker who doesn't want to abstain.

I know before I started cleansing I made countless promises to myself that I would become a moderate drinker. I'm just going to have two drinks today. That's it. Then I'm gonna stop! I promise! No way I'm having a single drop more than (hic) ... Cut to me passed out in bed with a half-empty bottle of wine (sometimes my third for the day) hidden in my nightstand. So much for my grand plans of becoming a moderate drinker. And it happened. All. The. Time.

However, once I started cleansing, getting my drinking down to a healthier level became so much easier for me. I believe 1-2 drinks a day could even be a reasonable goal for me now. 

But I'm very leery to start drinking every day again. I would hate for it to eventually lead to another loss of control. And I really don't envy the 1-2 drinks-a-day lifestyle, anyway. I enjoy having days where I don't drink at all - like today. And I enjoy having nights when I drink more than two glasses of wine. I just enjoy the cleansing lifestyle. It works for me. I love it so much in fact, I have no desire to change it. 

But if you're drinking too much now and moderation (1-2 drinks every day) is really your ultimate goal, maybe cleansing can help you get there.  I believe this lifestyle can really help problem drinkers learn to manage their alcohol intake and 'get control.' And once you're in control, setting your own personal goals for drinking is much easier. 

btw, I mentioned I'd share my biggest healthy weight secret. I've never been obese, but ever since I was a teenager I definitely battled with my weight. Particularly the hip and thigh area. In 1997, I started incorporating protein into every meal and most snacks I had. Until then, I was still living like a student on toast and pasta with jarred tomato sauce. Carbs, carbs, carbs. 

But ever since I started eating more protein with every meal and snack, my weight has no longer been an issue. Even though I eat quite a bit. Whether the protein helps keep you more satisfied or actually has an effect on your overall metabolism, I'm not sure (I'm a Ms. not a Dr. remember?), all I can say is ... it works. Probably in much the same way it satisfies people on the Atkins and other high-protein diets - only you can still enjoy eating carbs in a healthy way. 

If you don't believe me, try this trick: Next time you find yourself in front of the cupboard or fridge chowing down uncontrollably on chips, cookies, ice cream, chocolates or whatever high-carb, high-fat snack that is your current weakness ... stop yourself for one second. 

Open a can of salmon or tuna - and have a few spoonfuls of that. Add a smidge of low-fat mayo if you absolutely can't stomach the plain fish (but try it plain first because that'll immediately kill your appetite, too!).

If you're ambitious and really want to be healthy, chop up some celery and onion and make a full-out super-yummy tuna or salmon salad. But that's not necessary if you don't have the time. Just try the tuna or salmon - or ham or chicken or tofu wieners or gefilte fish or whatever handy protein you have (try at least 1-3 ounces). 

It's unbelievably effective for immediately stopping an uncontrollable empty-calorie carb pig-out in its tracks. You'll be able to walk away from the cupboard feeling satisfied for hours. Plus you'll have the feeling of being in control of the binge, which is great for your ongoing confidence when it comes to controlling excess food intake, too. 

After all, Ms. Functional isn't just concerned about healthier drinking. I'm into good health overall. And that includes a healthy body weight. "Take that, bastard Doritos!"

Here's the full article about the effects of moderate drinking on weight levels from registered dietician, Karen Ansel: "Drinking To Shrink."