12 Sneaky Tips to Drink Less Alcohol and Lose Weight
If you’re a New Yorker, I bet much of your socializing includes alcohol on some level. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, sharing a bottle of wine with dinner, having some beers while watching the game, meeting a date or inviting your friends over for pre-dinner cocktails, the common denominator is …. alcohol . And even if you aren’t socializing, the hectic pace of NYC life often calls for a glass of wine to unwind. While alcohol in moderation can actually be healthy, too much of it will impact your weight and overall health. Read on to get my sneaky tips to drink less alcohol and lose weight.
As a nutritionist in NYC, one of my goals is to help my clients navigate tricky situations … and alcohol tends to top the list. I personally can relate how difficult it can be to deal with this …. as like many of you, I like to go out socially and have my “drinking” friends. But ….
Ways alcohol affects your weight
- Adds calories. On average, a 5 oz glass of wine is 125 calories, a regular beer is 150 calories, vodka and other ha
liquor is 100 calories for 1.5 oz (then you would add in calories for mixers), and a martini is 150-250 calories. Doesn’t sound so bad – right? But there are effects other than calorie
- Decreases discipline to watch what you eat. You may start out with the best intentions to avoid bread and dessert … but after a few drinks, you find your hand reaching into the bread basket or your fork diving into the dessert platter
- Can cause more hunger later on in the night. When your night has come to an end, many of my clients feel hungry again – even if you just had a large meal. Personally, I could have had a full meal with friends (that includes a few glasses of wine). But on my way home I get these incredible urges for chocolate and often stop into Duane Reade for a “treat”. CONFESSION
- Poor sleep. You may crash as soon as your head hits the pillow but chances are you are not getting a sound sleep. It’s been shown the alcohol causes a broken sleep due to our bodies are metabolizing it in the middle of the night.
- Feeling “off” the next day. While most of us (but not all of us!) are way past the stage of “massive hangover”days, even having 2
alcoholic beverages can make us feel out of sorts the next day. Unfortunately as we age, our bodies don’t metabolize alcohol like we used too. Feeling off will likely lead to increased hunger or cravings and poor food choices
- Decreased desire to exercise the next day. Whether it’s from a broken sleep/fatigue or feeling “off”, chances are you skip your workout when the alarm goes off at 7 am or you’re dragging by the end of the day so your bootcamp class is not going to happen.
Sneaky tips to drink less alcohol
- Why do you drink? If you are drinking more than you want to, think about why you drink. Is it for relaxation after a long day? Habit (i.e. your and your spouse share a bottle of good wine every night with dinner)? You feel you “need” to when on a business dinner? You feel you should when out with friends to fit in with the group? You just enjoy having multiple drinks when out with friends? Before you can come up with game plan, you need to think about why you drink.
- Find a strong motivator. Assuming you want to drink less, it’s important to think about WHY this is important to you. It’s important that you have a strong motivator or you won’t be able to make changes long term. Examples: You’re tired of feeling like a slug the next day and blowing off your workout. Or the scale just won’t budge. You’ll need to keep these motivators on the front burner and remind yourself before you reach for the glass. My example: I realized that as I’ve gotten older I just don’t feel as well the next day when I have more than 2 glasses of wine. And when you are having long dinners with friends, it can be difficult to keep it to two. But I’ve realized that it’s just not worth it the next day when I have a splitting headache. This helps keep me in chec
- Choose your “drinking nights”. Whether you have a busy evening social calendar or like relaxing with a glass (or two) of wine at night, it will be important for you to prioritize what nights are most important for you to drink. I often set a goal for how many drinks you can have a week with my clients (assuming they want to set this goal. As a health coach, I like to have my clients set goals for themselves … I may offer a “light suggestion” but don’t enforce goals) If you know you have a business dinner Wednesday night and drinks with your friends on Friday, skip the “wind-down” drink at home on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
- Find a non-alcohol way to relax. For many people, a stressful day means unwinding with a glass of wine. Find alternative ways to relieve stress. Go for a run/walk or to the gym. Take a yoga class (if you can’t get to a class, find one On Demand or YouTube). Practice meditation – see my previous post on Meditation Apps. Read a book. Watch a mindless tv show. Have a nice cup of tea instead of a drink.
- Have a goal in mind before you head out. For example, see a goal of one or two drinks … or no drinks (if it is a non-drinking night). Stay focused and stick to it.
- Plan your excuse. You will likely encounter some resistance if out with “drinking” friends. Use a trendy excuse “I’m on a cleanse this week” or “my nutritionist told me to limit it this week” or “this is a non-drinking night” or “I’m having blood work done tomorrow”. If they persist in bugging you, they have the problem, not you!
- Be tardy for the party. Arriving a little late will cut down help cut down on drinking time. My example: Many of my friends like to meet for drinks before dinner. This one is easy for me … I just tend to skip that part and meet for the actual dinner. Or you could go to the “pre-party” and just have a club soda with a twist (or club soda with an olive in martini glass to feel more festive and fit in with the martini crowd) and then have a glass of wine with dinner
- Drink the drink that goes down the slowest. My example: white wine goes down much more quickly than red wine.
- Book a workout class early the next day. (Flywheel is my treat as I already belong to Equinox). That way you’ll be less likely to overindulge so you don’t lose your $35 the next day
- Drink a ton of water or keep ordering club sodas. It can help to just drink SOMETHING and it doesn’t have to be booze. This can slow you down. Pic of me with a giant club soda along with my wine.
- When drinking at home, use smaller glasses.
- Consider a month without any alcohol. I’ve had several clients do this and say it made them feel great. They didn’t even miss the alcohol.
- This not really a “sneaky” tip …. Seek help if needed. Many of my clients go to “moderation specialists” in the city and have found them very helpful. You don’t have to totally give it up; but you learn how to moderate it. And of course, there is always AA.
Share with us if you find it hard to limit your alcohol and what tips/tricks you help you!
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.