Is your waist feeling softer than it used to? Yet you eat a healthy diet, so you can’t understand why. If you enjoy a glass of wine (or two) with dinner, you could have a ‘wine waist’. Here’s how to lose it – without ditching the drop completely.
Most Aussies love a drink or two. In fact, when surveyed, 83 per cent of us said we were recent drinkers. While most of us are aware of the negative health effects of too much alcohol, the impact on our appearance and weight are usually overlooked.
“I see so many men and women with a ‘wine waist’”, says dietitian Zoe Wilson.
“Sometimes it isn’t always about the wrong food, often it’s the result of drinking wine at least three nights a week.”
It’s so easy to overlook the two glasses of red we have with a healthy dinner. But alcoholic drinks give us ‘empty kilojoules’ as they don’t give us any other beneficial nutrients like protein, fibre, vitamins or minerals.
“Many people don’t realise that wine is loaded with kilojoules,” says Wilson. “Think of it this way, just 1g of pure alcohol contains 29kJ, almost as much as 1g fat, at 37kJ! So having one big glass (which is normally the size we pour at home), you’re consuming about the same amount of kilojoules as a slice of ham and cheese pizza without realising.”
Refraining on most days of the week isn’t going to help if you drink a lot (i.e a bottle) over one or two nights. A study found women who drank in this sort of pattern had an extra 10cm around their waist, and men had an extra 5cm. This was compared to those who drank a little (i.e one small glass), but more often (i.e most nights).
While the reasons for this hefty weight gain weren’t clear, the authors theorised it could be the combination of kilojoules in the drinks and the poor food choices that are often made around a high intake of alcohol.
However, it’s not all bad news. Studies show a moderate amount of red wine, which contains an antioxidant called resveratrol, is beneficial for the heart. But the benefits don’t accumulate the more you drink, so stick to the recommended 1–2 standard drinks or less per day, with a few days off a week. More than that, and you’re into kilojoule overload.
Eleven Easy Ways to Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
1. When do you drink most?
Is it when you’ve had a tough day? Often we think a glass of wine will help to improve our mood, but it’s not the answer. Alcohol is a depressant so could actually make your mood worse.
2. Distract yourself.
Instead of reaching for the bottle as soon as you get home, have a calming bath or a cup of tea first. This may take the edge off your need for wine. Wait until after you’ve eaten, you may then find you don’t want one.
3. Rethink your social life
If you usually meet friends in a pub after work, change your activities. Try meeting for a coffee or quick bite before going to the cinema instead.
4. Keep busy
Dedicate two or three nights a week to non-drinking activities, such as an art class or exercise class, so you won’t be so tempted by wine when you’re bored at night.
Use smaller glasses at home and put the bottle away once you’ve poured a glass. That way you’ll have to think about whether or not you really want a second or third glass.
Choose a non-alcoholic drink (preferably water) between glasses of wine so you reduce how much you drink and also reduce the dehydrating effects of the alcohol.
7. Treat yourself
Work out how much you spend on alcohol every month and buy something nice for yourself with the money you save by cutting down instead.
8. Savour it
Treat your favourite wine like dark chocolate. Stick to one or two small glasses only, drink it slowly and savour it. Teach yourself to put the wine glass down after each sip so you aren’t tempted to drink too quickly.
9. Stop and think
Before pouring yourself a second glass, walk away for five minutes and ask yourself if you really need another. Try cleaning your teeth so you feel fresh and imagine how much better you’ll feel the next day.
10. Steer clear of rounds
This creates pressure to keep drinking. Buying your own also makes it easier to alternate a non-alcoholic drink with an alcoholic one.
11. Shop earlier in the day
A late-night dash to get dinner will make it more tempting to grab a bottle of wine too.