So You Wanna be an Intuitive Drinker? A Post on Intuitive Drinking
Today we’re chatting alcohol. Its seems 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 often. So I figured it was a great time to open up some conversation on intuitive drinking.
“How can I continue to honor my body and listen to my hunger cues while having a drink or two?”
“How can I check-in with myself on how I’m feeling WHILE I’m drinking?”
“I feel like I am 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 my personal opinion/experience and is for the person who does not consider themselves an alcoholic. 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!
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.
Take it from me. I had a few “too many” drinks this 4th of July and woke up the next day feeling like I would have done a few things differently: not gotten mad at Marco for cleaning up early, made sure that person who arrived late got dinner, and so on. This isn’t a perfect rodeo!
If you’re struggling a lot of nights like this, then perhaps you haven’t quite let go of the black or white mentality with drinking.
The mentality of “If I’m drinking, I’m going for it!” or “I don’t want to go overboard so I won’t drink at all.”
As I shared, every once in a while, if you get a little “hangy” as I call it, no big deal. In my opinion, don’t worry about it. Give yourself some grace. But if it’s happening too often, then I’m assuming you might be looking to make a change.
Like most things in life… moderation is key. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
When I was in high school and college (pre-21, somehow I calmed down ONCE I turned 21 – anyone else? Haha!) I would drink with a VERY all or nothing mentality. I remember my mom worried about this because of alcoholism runs in my family.
However, looking back… I can pinpoint exactly what was going on. I was trying to escape. I was trying to escape from the rules I’d placed on myself and was trying to find myself. At this time, I was very strict with myself. Very all or nothing in every area. In relationships, with money, with my weight, food, school, etc.
I had a behavior that went a little bit like this: if we’re eating a few chips we’re eating all of them because I should NOT be eating chips. If we’re dancing, we’re getting drunk because who dances sober? Apparently a lot of people, Paige! (My future self is better about this, ha!). If we’re going shopping, we’re SPLURGING and spending this whole paycheck! Gotta look cute, right?
It wasn’t until I began to really understand my worth and really let go of the black and white mentality in all areas of my life that this began to shift with drinking. It was like my blinders were lifted. I was able to see that hey… yeah, I actually 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? That’s the BEST PART! 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… but the biggest part 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 (maybe even three) when I’m out with friends and family. It may look like a drink with dinner or a glass of wine at the end of the day. Though, lately La Croix and I have been good friends. Being “sobs” most of the time feels pretty great to me.
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.
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. Trust me, I KNOW. I was exactly there.
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 $.99 tacos, nacho’s, skipping exercise the next day (hello, hangover)… it felt partially terrible and partially liberating after being so strict all week!
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, you’ll enjoy a couple slices of pizza with your beer for dinner. Or you’ll have a couple slices of bread with butter before dinner comes out. It’s all okay. Neutral neutral neutral.
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.
Side note: If you have JUST started eating intuitively, you may have a difference experience with this. Freedom is NEW to you. Freedom is EXCITING to you. There’s probably a reprateuar of foods you haven’t said yes to in a while. So if it seems you DO have a lot of cravings when you’re drinking my encouragement is to remember this: “Life is a long time. I have a lot of fun times ahead of me. A lot of opportunities to eat what I want. I don’t have to eat it all at once. Tonight, what would I like to have?” That’s grace. That’s patience. That’s neutral.
When you begin to crowd out the mindset that keeps you in the space of all or nothing thinking, with drinking, your NEED for bingeing on the salty “fun” foods reduces. You know that those foods are available anytime and therefore the energy around those foods balances out. It’s just as normal now as a slice of plain chicken (sort-of; you get the picture?).
If you find yourself REALLY tempted to reach for a fourth drink when you know that three is your limit, pause. Check-in. If you need to, go to the bathroom, sit in the stall, and have a little chat with yourself.
How are you going to feel if you keep drinking? Imagine and FEEL how you want to feel when you wake up? Do you want to have a clear mind, energy, and enjoy that morning cup of coffee?
WHY do you want another drink? Do you think you’ll have more fun? Are people starting to dance and you don’t feel “drunk enough” yet? (I hear this from so many women). Be yourself girl! Throw your hands around. Be silly. Have fun!
The truth is more alcohol does not = more fun. If you believe in this equation, you’ve got to reframe it for yourself.
Here are some other questions you can ask yourself (and by the way, feel free to save this post in your phone and read it the next time you’re having that bathroom-stall chat with yourself):
- 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?
Part of this whole self-compassion/intuitive-eating/living journey is that you gotttttttta 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. I do! So often!
- 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 bad days (the saying “no bad days” is total crap and 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.
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. Leaves you asking yourself “Ugh, why did I do that AGAIN?”
- Enjoying some wine, cheese, and crackers during a girls night. So enjoyable! Bingeing on those things? Not fun at all. Stomachache. Ouch!
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 YOU 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 (I could have reminded myself of this on the 4th of July!). 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 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?”
- “How can I remind myself, once I’m already drinking, to check-in? It’s easy to forget to check-in once you start having fun or get distracted!”
- “How do I handle those old diet rules related to drinking like ‘Only drink light beer!’ or ‘No sugar!’ or ‘Don’t drink too much or you’ll eat bad’?”
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. Come up with something else to do! I swear – the city has more than just bars and alcohol. 😉
- In terms of how you can check-in once you’ve already started having fun and drinking (I soo hear you! This is why I got ahead of myself on the 4th of July – I was having fun!) I would encourage you to take solo breaks. My favorite trick is to go to the bathroom. That’s where I have my come-to-Jesus how-am-I-feeling check-ins. Ha! I can always seem to be real with myself when I’m sitting there, alone, and can notice “Yeah, I’m feeling buzzed. I’ll get a water next.” The other thing I’ll say is to set yourself up for success here. If you know you’re going to be out for six hours, don’t drink three drinks in the first hour. Have one, drink some fancy/fun water, and then get another a bit later. It’s not a race to catch a buzz 😉 You’re already fun, you’re already great, enjoyyy.
- And to the last question above on “How do I let go of diet-related thoughts about drinking?” I would say… come back to how you feel. Don’t “not drink sugar” because you “shouldn’t drink sugar” but ONLY skip sugar if it doesn’t make you feel good (like I talked about). If you can handle a sugary drink – and guys, I can handle a sugary drink if I want one – then go ahead. Enjoy. There’s no “should or shouldn’t.” It all comes back to asking yourself “What do I want?” And again, if you’re new to intuitive eating, you have to give yourself a learning period for sure. You have to HAVE an experience of drinking something sugary to learn whether you like it or not. In fact, all of life is a “learning period.” Instead of giving yourself rules, treat everything moving forward from here as an experiment to see how you feel. Test out what you like and don’t like and follow your preferences, not your rules.
Order: “Peach Vodka Soda with Lime.” <– with extra lime if you’d like!
To make at home:
- 4 large ice cubes
- 1-2 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 (tonic is loaded with sugar)
Enjoy! Marco calls this a “Peach Breeze” – ha! This drink is sweet without added 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: “Extra Dirty Martini” (with vodka or gin – whatever you like)
…and you may as well bring me a cup of olives on the side. Extra dirty means extra olive juice. Like I shared… I don’t like sweet, but I do love salty!
Order: “Vodka soda with orange, lime, and mint on top!”
This is my favorite drink to order when I’m at the lake or beach where there’s a bar. Just a regular vodka soda with lime, basically, but then I have them add some mint leaves and orange too. It makes it feel nice and fun without the sugar.
I keep saying “without the sugar” because sugar, for me, makes me sleep horrrrrribly that night. I already don’t sleep as good when I’ve had something to drink, but add sugar into the mix and I’m up at night for an hour.
I also love any grapefruit beer, Blue Moon, and for Marco… occasionally a Coors Light. 😉
Okay, so let’s have 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.