It’s the same thing every day. Get home from a stressful, long day at work. Help kids do homework. Drive them to practice. Make dinner. Clean up from dinner. And now it’s wine ‘o clock. It is very easy to pick up an after dinner wine habit. This habit does have its positives, but could also be the culprit getting in the way of your health goals. Is it time for you to quit your after-dinner wine habit?
Over the past couple of decades, we have learned that wine, especially red wine, can be very good for our hearts. One 5 oz. glass of wine per day has been accepted as a realistic part of a healthy diet. In addition to heart-healthy benefits, drinking wine can relax you after a long day and help relieve some of the stress you carry in this fast-paced world.
Even though wine has its positive attributes, you cannot ignore the fact that wine has calories. And as you know, excess calories lead to weight gain, no matter what food they come from. So if you haven’t been offsetting the cost of your wine calories with extra exercise or cutting calories somewhere else, you may start to see the scale creep upward. Or if you are trying to lose weight, you might struggle to see the pounds come off. It’s time to face the facts.
One glass of wine contains between 130 and 175 calories, and that’s with an exact 5 oz. measurement. If you’re heavy-handed with the bottle, you are looking at more. But that’s not the only calorie hit from drinking wine daily. You see, when you drink wine, it ramps up your appetite, making you want to eat more. As you can probably guess, it doesn’t make you want to eat celery sticks, but more indulgent things like chips and cookies. Lastly, even though drinking wine might help you fall asleep easier, it can lead to very disruptive sleep. When you aren’t well-rested, your body tends to hold on to calories more, and again, you are more likely to eat more junk food.
So what’s a wine-loving girl to do? Well, I am going to walk you through some tips you can try for kicking your wine habit altogether. However, if that is not realistic for you (and it’s not for me either), you can also use these same tips to reduce the number of days you are drinking wine after dinner. This is a much more attainable goal. If you feel like you want to try to quit altogether in the future, then work up to it. You have to do what is right for you. You can still drink wine after dinner, but try to stick to three or four days a week. If you notice it starting to become a daily habit again, step back and look at what you can do to get back on track.
#1 – Keep a journal
You know how people keep food journals when they are trying to lose weight? Well, try keeping a wine journal. Every time you have a glass of wine, write it down. Be specific as to the time of day it is and the exact amount you drink. Writing it down makes you pay more attention to the habit. It may also be helpful to note how you are feeling at the time. This can help you identify your triggers. What makes you want that wine? Is it a stressful time of day? Then, you can come up with some other ways to deal with that stress (see #2).
#2 – Replace it
If you have been using wine as a way to wind down in the evening, work on replacing it with something else that will have the same effect. Maybe you can take a long shower at that time, or a nice hot bubble bath. Read a book or scroll Facebook to take your mind off of stressful things. You are going to have to realize, however, that you probably won’t be able to replace your wine habit immediately (see #6).
#3 – Stop buying wine
I know this sounds obvious and kind of funny, but it’s the same way with junk food. If it’s not in your house, you can’t drink it. When you have a fully stocked wine rack staring at you after dinner, it’s just going to make you want it. If you have to drive to the store to buy a bottle after a long, stressful day, chances are you won’t feel like it.
#4 – Create a reward system
Back to #3 for a second…if you stop buying wine, you are going to rack up some extra bucks pretty quickly. Depending on how often you drink wine, you may go through one or two bottles every week. You’re talking $20-$50 there. Every week. That’s $80-$200 per month. Holy cow! That’s a lot of money! Think about what you could do with that money instead of drinking it in a wine glass. Put your saved wine money in a jar and label it with your reward. You could do this by the week, month, or longer.
#5 – Walk first
If you feel the need for that glass of wine, tell yourself you can have it…but you have to exercise or take a walk first. Exercise is one of the most underused methods of treating anxiety and depression. It can lift your mood and help clear your head, almost immediately. You will also burn some calories, so that if you do still end up drinking some wine, it will be offset by the exercise. Hopefully, the walk or burst of exercise will make you feel good enough all on its own so you won’t need the wine.
#6 – Wean yourself
Just like with any habit (think smoking, nail biting), it takes time and repeated attempts before the habit can be changed. The best thing to do is wean yourself a little bit at a time. You might wean by the number of days each week that you drink wine. Set a small goal, like replacing wine with a hot bath two days this week. Then the next week, make it three days. Keep building it up from there. Or you might want to wean by the amount of wine in your glass every night. Drop the fill line by 25% every day for one week. The next week, go to half a glass. Keep going like this until you can kick it altogether.
Try out one or more of these strategies to help you kick your after-dinner wine habit. If you don’t end up quitting wine altogether, I still think working on reducing it is worth it, and totally acceptable. Maybe you will be happy with wine three days a week, or a half glass every night. You never know until you try.