Today we’re chatting alcohol. Its seems like I haven’t mentioned more than two-words about alcohol on the blog before (though my clients and I do talk about it) and it’s something I get questions about pretty often. This week especially, I’ve had clients bring it up. So I figured it was a great time to open up some conversation on intuitive drinking.
“Is alcohol bad for you?”
“How often should I drink it?”
“Does alcohol make you gain weight?”
“How can I continue to honor my body and listen to my hunger cues while having a drink or two?”
“I feel like I need to be black and white with drinking. Either I have none or I go overboard. Is this normal?”
So let’s get to talkin’! At the end of this post I’ll leave you with a list of a few of my favorite drinks. Sound good?
Disclaimer: This post is coming from my personal opinion/experience and is for the person who does not have a problem with drinking. If you struggle with alcohol, talk to someone more qualified to give you advice in this area. If you’ve decided to swear off drinking because of some serious pain it’s caused in your life – good for you. This post is not for you. Keep doing what you’re doing! Everyone – take this post lightly; this is only my personal experience with alcohol. This is not necessarily “advice,” rather, it’s just one persons (my) perspective. Do what works for YOU.
After a drink or two, things feel a little light, fun, a little silly, and everything is a little more relaxed.
How about about after three, four, five, and beyond?
I’m going to assume that this is when things get a little “out of control,” you feel a little less like yourself (which is what you could be going for)… this is also where your choices become other than your own (not what you would normally choose) and your perception is skewed.
This may be what you went for in high school or college… Or perhaps you’re still going through this because you haven’t quite let go of the black or white mentality in any area of your life. Or perhaps you’ve started to, but haven’t yet done so with drinking.
Like most things in life… moderation is key. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
Personal share: I have alcoholism in my family (though as the generations continue it dwindles and dwindles – thank God) as I’m sure many of you do, too. The older I get the more common I realize it is in most families. It’s something I stay mindful of. However, for myself, I don’t worry about it because I do not crave alcohol when I wake up. I don’t wish to drink alone from a bottle. I don’t wish to do most of the things that I’ve (again, this is personal) seen those who struggle with alcoholism do. I don’t like to feel wasted – though there was a time where I did because I didn’t understand that there was an in-between. This is something you’ll have to reflect on for yourself.
When I was in high school and college (pre-21, somehow I calmed down ONCE I turned 21 – anyone else? Ha!) I would drink either nothing at all, or I’d make myself sick. I remember my mom worried about this because of alcoholism in my family. However, looking back… I can pinpoint exactly what was going on. I was trying to escape. Trying to escape from the rules I’d placed on myself, trying to escape from being myself. At this time, “myself” was very strict. Very all or nothing. Very much if we’re eating a few chips we’re eating them all because MYSELF should NOT be having chips. If there’s dancing, we’re getting drunk because who in the world dances sober? Apparently a lot of people, Paige!
It wasn’t until I began to really understand my worth and really lay down the black and white mentality in all areas that this began to shift with drinking. It was like my blinders were lifted. I was able to see that hey… yeah, I don’t like to feel drunk. When I feel drunk I say things I don’t mean. I am not myself. And actually… hmm! I kinda like myself! I think I’d like to be myself more often. Who cares if I dance like a goofball sober? Who cares… I want to have fun. I want to feel good. I want to wake up in the morning and look forward to coffee after a night out. I don’t want to feel sick and in bed.
I think this also came with maturity for me… however the biggest part of it all WAS letting go of the black and white mentality with drinking, food, my body, my expectations of life, myself, and others… It came with having more awareness. Finding my worth in things outside of my body, success, etc…
For me, drinking in moderation can look like: a drink or two when you’re out with friends and family. It may look like a drink with dinner or a glass of wine at the end of the day. This is pretty normal. Having a drink or two doesn’t (usually) cause us to make decisions that are different than we normally would. I know a lot of people who have a glass or two of wine with most dinners and they’re completely fine. They don’t change who they are. They don’t turn into monsters. They’re able to be moderate pretty much 100% of the time with drinking (but again, no black and white… if you’re in a similar place as I was – you don’t have a drinking problem but you’ve taken it too far at times – you’ve gotta have grace for yourself as you figure this whole moderation thing out… Would you have grace for yourself if it were with food? Then this too, my friend.)
Allow me to share something… You’ve heard me say it before, but remember: “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” So, if you’ve got an all or nothing relationship to food, you may have the same relationship with drinking. You also may feel that drinking is your time to let loose – and you may LOVE this because if you’re dieting, nothing feels better than letting loose.
When I was dieting in college, I liked to drink on the weekends. It allowed me to LET GO. All week long I would be super “good” with my food, my exercise routine, my habits, etc… drinking allowed to “blame it on the alcohol” (I just said that…) and do whatever I wanted —> Jack n’ the Box, nacho’s, skipping exercise the next day (hello, hangover)… it felt partially terrible and partially liberating after being so strict all week!
Also, for those who worry about getting cravings for chips, pizza and nacho’s when you’re drinking… it’s totally normal and natural that you may crave a little more salt. Have some! It’s no big deal. When you can get neutral about this and just expect it; when it’s allowed… you won’t “just go for it” and “get it all in” before the night is over.
Rather, be neutral with your routine, remember that you don’t have strict rules, and if you sense that you need some fun, give it to yourself. Don’t hoard fun for the weekends and overwork yourself to boredom and struggle through a lack of connection throughout the week.
When you’re eating and living more intuitively you can have ANY food that you want at ANY time. You’re easier on yourself and you don’t feel the need to wildly LET LOOSE through things like drinking.
You begin to crowd out the mindset that keeps you in the space of all or nothing thinking, with drinking (I swear I didn’t mean for that to rhyme). You want to ask yourself WHY. If you’re reaching for another drink and you can feel that it’s going to put your over the edge, WHY?
Ask yourself: What part of me needs my attention? What part of me is freaking out? What part of me wants another drink when I’ve already had enough?
- Is it that part of me that feels awkward in social situations?
- That part of me that had a hard day at work and wants to ZONE out?
- Am I unhappy in some area that I don’t want to think about? Procrastinating in some way?
Well, my friends… part of this whole self-compassion/intuitive-eating/living journey is that you get comfortable with the uncomfortable parts of life so that when discomfort comes up it doesn’t overtake you. It doesn’t drive you to want to numb out. Life can be hard – this is part of life. We don’t need to avoid discomfort like the plague. Like it’s some horrible thing that NO ONE should experience. Truth is, we all deal with discomfort.
- Dealing with grief? Feel it. It will not kill you. Go through it. Use this as an opportunity to find positive support that feels good. Use this as an opportunity to care for yourself.
- Dealing with a bad day? That sucks. We all have bad days sometimes. This IS a part of life. There’s no avoiding all bad days (the saying “no bad days” is total crap – untrue!). How do you want to handle bad days when you have them? Having a normal or bad day is okay. Not everyday has to be GREAT!
- Have a screaming child? Ugh, that is SO hard. All parents deal with screaming children sometimes. No ones parenting journey is perfect. What do you need? Can you ask for help? How will you deal when your kido is having a rough day? What do YOU need when you’re having a rough day?
- Exhausted and need sleep? Lay down those unrealistic expectations that are keeping you awake (like continuing to work, study, or finish a movie when you’re EXHAUSTED). Turn off whatever you’re doing. Get some rest, restart tomorrow. Sleep is important.
- Feeling socially awkward? Hey, I bet you’re not the only one. Ask people questions. Get curious about OTHERS. Take the focus and pressure off yourself. Just show up. There’s no expectations, you can leave whenever you want. But it could be fun to get to know some new people, right? Try it. Be yourself.
If you want to go out and have fun with your friends, great! Do it. If you want to order a drink with dinner, awesome, go for it. But remember, moderation. As I shared earlier, with anything, we can do too much of a good thing and it will no longer feel good.
- A little bit of ice cream (as long as you’re not lactose), totally fine! Too much? Ugh, you feel sick.
- Buying something you’ve budgeted for? So fun! Spending way past your limits. Stressful.
- Enjoying some wine, cheese, and crackers during a girls night. So enjoyable! Bingeing on those things? Not fun at all.
Mostly, we need to get to know ourselves. Our fun sides, our awesome sides, and our totally dorky sides – and we need to be okay with all parts of ourselves.
Check-in with yourself right now. Do you drink more than you would like to in any specific situation(s)? Think about those situations… What’s going on there? Why does it seem like a good idea to “just go for it” during those times? What parts of yourself can you EMBRACE, instead? What parts of yourself do you need to have more grace for? Pay attention to?
Let’s recognize that sometimes there really is too much of a good thing and also trust that we don’t need to drink in order to have fun. Rather, if we’re having a drink it’s just a natural, normal thing. Nothing needs to be excessive about it. Start to neutralize your thoughts around alcohol. It’s not going to save you. It’s not going to make the weekend. It’s not going to be the best part of the night. What IS going to make your weekend? What IS going to relax you? What IS going to be the best part of the night? Decide on the real stuff. Like the laughter, the connection, etc… and learn how to get those things without having to be drunk.
Tips & Tricks
Here are some things that I’ve experienced and things that my clients have brought up:
- “When all of my friends are drinking and we stay out for HOURS… How do I just have one or two drinks? It’s almost like it’s awkward to not be drinking something.”
- “I live in San Francisco [haha – this is true, right?!] and people here drink ALL the time. What do I do when people ask me out for drinks, literally, Monday through Sunday?”
- “I love having a drink at the end of the day, is this okay?”
- “How can I pace myself to make drinking less easier?”
Here are my “tips & tricks” – I hope they help:
- Create a neutral mindset about alcohol. Take the power away. You don’t have to drink to have a good night. If you want a drink, fine. No problem at all. But you can have fun, feel or just be, without it. Let the alcohol be a small addition; not the whole event.
- When you’re out with friends, drink water between drinks. I swear by this! Order your drink, “babysit” it (sip it slow even when people make fun of you!) and have a glass of ice water (with lime?) in between. I do this with beer too – I always feel better with water!
- EAT before you drink or while you’re drinking. Do not, I repeat, do not drink on an empty stomach. It’s never a good idea and you’re not going to feel well. It’s good to eat when you’re drinking.
- Order non-sugary drinks whenever you can. Sugar and alcohol don’t mix well. Which is why we typically crave things like chips and salsa after a night out.
- Having a drink at the end of the day is not excessive by any means, but check in with yourself. Is there anything else you’d LIKE to do? You want to make sure you’re checking in with yourself and how you’re doing before you instantly resort to a drink (my opinion). What is it that you want to experience by having a drink? How can you also give that to yourself in a non-drinking form? You can use your motivations for drinking as signals of what needs to be paid attention to.
- Lastly, recommend other things to your friends. Especially if you live in a place like San Fran where EVERYONE recommends that you “grab a drink and an appetizer” after work. I’m sure you’re not the only person who is sick of drinking (haha!). Come up with something else to do! I swear – the city has more than just bars and alcohol. 😉 (So many of my San Fran clients talk to me about this – even more than my New Yorkers!)
Order: “Peach Vodka Soda with Lime.” <– with extra lime if you’d like!
To make at home:
- 4 large ice cubes
- 1 oz peach vodka
- the juice of half a lime
- a slice or two of lime (it’s just pretty!)
- the rest, fill with club soda (note: tonic is loaded with sugar)
Enjoy! Marco calls this a “Peach Breeze” – ha! This drink is sweet without loads of sugar.
Order: “Gin and Lime, shaken, in a martini glass.” This is only for those of you who LIKE Gin – it’s strong! People will almost always say “so you want a Gimlet?” NO. Most Gimlet’s have a sugary syrup in them and in my opinion it ruins the drink. Unless you LIKE sweet. Then go for it!
Order: “Gin Extra Dirty Martini” and you may as well bring me a cup of olives on the side. Extra dirty just means extra olive juice. Like I shared… I don’t like sweet, but I do like salty!
I also love any grapefruit beer, Blue Moon, and for Marco… occasionally a Coors Light. 😉
Let’s start some convo below. I’d love to answer questions and/or hear from you: What are your drinking tips & tricks? Can you relate to this post? How do you practice moderation with alcohol? Leave a comment!
I hope this was helpful – if it was, please share it with a girl friend and/or on social media. As you leave here today, please remember that I’m not the expert in this area: I’m just sharing personal experience, girl to girl. Thanks! 🙂