I am currently on a mini-vacation and well, wine is on the menu. But as you know, I usually have a couple glasses a night most nights of the week anyway, so this is pretty much the same routine.
And you know I talk about wine a lot.
Not because I think everyone should drink it, but because it’s simply an example, for me, of a preemptive cheat that I use to help me maintain my weight with little effort. Not because it helps me lose weight but because it takes the edge off my cravings so that I don’t have to exclusively use willpower to avoid eating more and worse crap later.
Wine is not a weight loss tool.
And I would never advocate someone begin drinking it if they don’t already (that’s silly), but I would encourage you, as always, to find that 1-3 food items that you can incorporate into your eating daily or several times a week that acts as a buffer for you – something to take the edge off the feelings of deprivation so that you can stay consistent.
I’ll use wine, or other times I’ll use dark or sugar-free chocolate. I’ll use cheese on my salad or a charcuterie plate out at dinner. I’ll use a little cream in my coffee or a protein bar after a meal. These things, while not exactly unhealthy, are also not foods you’d find on an “ideal diet” or competition prep plan.
In other words, I infuse my daily eating with moderate foods that keep the #SatisfactionFactor high at all times so that I always cruise into my next meal in control and with mindfulness.
Because eating 80-90% tight 100% of the time will always beat eating clean as a whistle Monday through Thursday, and then just crushing crap Friday through Sunday.
The #moderation365 way of doing things isn’t sexy. It’s not urgent or exciting, but it does work over time, guaranteed. You just need to figure out if you’re finally ready to automate your eating and stop program jumping.
Okay, so you may or may not want to drink wine. And again, I don’t want you to start if you don’t, but I think this is an important discussion to have, because the idea that you will just never drink alcohol again is silly. The advice “just abstain forever” is not useful. Because you will drink at some point, and because of that, it’s important to talk about strategy.
I talk to many women who say, “My diet would be perfect if it wasn’t for the booze!”
I get you. And so I wanted to take this opportunity to address how one should approach drinking.
Hence, the 3 ways to drink wine.
Can you handle wine? Here’s how to find out:
1) You can incorporate it semi-daily.
This will be an option for those people who, when having a glass of wine or two, will not end up overeating later. There’s a bell-shaped curve when it comes alcohol and if you go past that 1-2 glasses point, for many, it will mean opening up the appetite and eating more than if they’d just abstained.
You will also know if you can do it semi-regularly if it helps take the edge off your cravings.
For example, you get home from work fairly hungry. You have a glass of red while cooking dinner and then when you sit down to eat dinner an hour later, you don’t have to scarf it and you don’t overeat – the wine has acted as a buffer for your appetite. Yes, certain types of booze can suppress appetite. I love Jade’s comprehensive T-Nation article on alcohol here.
Finally, someone who has a couple of glasses of wine several nights a week realizes that they have to pick and choose their battles.
For example, if you are going to do wine, you can’t also do tons of starch plus dessert plus eat 6 times a day full meals, etc. Alcohol is not something you have on top of everything else – it is a conscious choice that requires you adjust elsewhere. I’m not saying skip meals and drink wine instead, but you have to be aware of the rest of your day. If you’re going to do wine, skip dessert. If you are going to do wine, maybe skip starch at dinner. You can’t have your wine and eat it too ;)
One more note about this approach: if you are going to drink wine regularly, work to enjoy it. Fifty percent of the time, I drink wine without eating at the same time. I will have a glass after dinner or before dinner – by itself. This is about reinforcing the experience of it. I take my time, actually taste it and savor it. And like desserts, don’t have any wine that you don’t absolutely love! Make it count.
2) One night a week, college-style.
This approach will be for those whose appetite does open up when drinking alcohol or who lose mindfulness around food, as a result of getting a little buzzed.
So this second approach would be the equivalent of a treat meal. You consciously choose to go all in for one night to enjoy the wine that you love but probably shouldn’t drink more than once a week.
Maybe you save this for a night out with girlfriends or a nice dinner with your partner. You give up the guilt, have what you want and wake up the next day (hopefully not with a hangover!) ready to get back to your moderate eating plan.
NOTE: Please don’t start depriving yourself and going crazy at the gym to “make up for” a little overindulgence the next day. Instead, get back into your moderate approach right away so that when you hit the next weekend night, you don’t actually have to go overboard because you’re pretty satisfied.
I am not a huge fan of balls-out cheat meals (I think they keep us mired in the black-and-white dieting mindset) but I think having a bottle of wine one night a week with an amazing dinner is fine. You won’t instantaneously gain 10 lbs.
But the key here is what happens the next day and the next week, because if you try to atone for the overindulgence, you will arrive at the next weekend even more ready to “cheat” and the repercussions will be worse – and you can see how the deprive-then-binge cycle starts to feed forward.
If you are currently engaged in the deprive-then-binge cycle, then the first step is incorporating preemptive cheats that don’t potentially have compensatory reactions. For example, find those 2-3 food items – not “perfect” but moderate – that you can begin incorporating weekly to help you smooth out the highs and lows in your eating.
I tend to think about the deprive-then-binge cycle as a roller coaster ride. The more you deprive, the bigger the eventual overindulgence. And then the bigger the overindulgence, the more strict the deprivation will be next time, and so on. This is a trap. And the only way to escape it is to slowly start evening out those highs and lows until you eat the same on Saturdays that you do on Mondays. #moderation365
Once you get to that point, you might experiment with wine. Have a glass before dinner and savor it. Have the experience of it. Stay mindful to your response after.
Hopefully this gives you some insight for how you should approach alcohol. It’s individual.
And remember, mindfulness is everything. Having a glass or two a few nights a week will not break your physique, but you have to stay in the moment with it. Don’t use booze as an excuse to throw in the towel, and start eating with abandon. It’s about using preemptive cheats to stay more consistent, not continue to deprive-then-binge.
Ready for more? Join my #moderation365 certification to learn exactly HOW to quit obsessive dieting for good and learn to eat the same on Saturday that you do on Monday.
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