I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of food restriction challenges. Hearing about the Whole 30, 21-day “cleanse” or Keto diet sends me over the edge. Giving things up for Lent is about as close as I would come to being that restrictive with my diet. In fact, I have given up, “giving up” things for Lent over the years. But for some reason, I decided to try “Dry January” and see how I’d feel being alcohol-free for a month. While I don’t drink in excess, I was drinking more frequently over the holidays than I’d prefer. Here’s what I noticed.
- Socializing almost always involves some form of alcohol. Dinner with friends, book club, happy hour with co-workers. It’s difficult to get away from. My book club friends didn’t even notice I wasn’t drinking except when a toast to the New Year was made. I raised my glass of seltzer, mentioned my dry intentions once and moved on.
- My sleep improved. I enjoy cocktails on the weekend for the most part when I can sleep in. I’ve found that the older I get, the less tolerance for alcohol I have. I woke up with more energy than I usually have.
- My skin looked brighter and didn’t break out as much. Alcohol is known to exacerbate rosacea. You’d think being 50+ would reduce my chance for breakouts, but alas, I have not been that lucky. Alcohol makes my face red, puffy and bumpy.
- I lost a few pounds. This was not my goal, though post-holiday, I was a fluffier version of myself. I noticed that my mid-section was a wee bit smaller. Alcohol makes our body store more fat and it’s typically around the middle.
- My mood got better. Most people don’t realize that alcohol is a depressant. Though we drink to “feel better”, celebrate, unwind, fill in the blank. While I would enjoy alcohol while I drank it, I would almost always be sulky and bitchy the next day. No fun.
- My memory improved. This is probably one of the most significant improvements in my overall health to me. My mother developed dementia at a fairly early age (mid 60’s) and I live in fear of losing my memory. I noticed I could recall names, places and things more easily than I had been.
Will I stop drinking forever? Maybe. To be honest, I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I enjoyed knowing I won’t wake up feeling foggy and tired. I like feeling a little lighter in my clothes. I’m not worried about what people will think while I drink seltzer water. Giving up coffee is another story. And I just won’t go there.
Having been in the field of nutrition nearly 30 years, I know what nutrition can and cannot do for the body. I read research studies about fiber and gut health and potassium and blood pressure. I recognize that hydration may aid with reducing constipation and that too much caffeine causes insomnia. I know more than the average bear as this is what I do. Nutrition is my bread and butter, my meat and potatoes. Puns intended.
I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for close to 25 years. While gluten-free and other restrictive diets have worked for some people, I have tried them with moderate success, but still require chronic medication to keep me feeling somewhat normal. This is something I have accepted and have no issue doing. I am so thankful for insurance coverage to pay for my medication. Without it, I’d be in pretty bad shape.
I am a healthcare professional in a wellness field. I weigh 130 lbs and exercise regularly. I don’t look ill. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. Having 2 parents with diabetes put me at high risk for diabetes and at the age of 50, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. My doctor told me I could try no medication for 6 months, but with my weight being normal and exercise being regular, there was not much wiggle room. My blood sugar is in good control with diet, exercise AND meds. I need medication and I am not ashamed to admit it, yet when I tell people my situation, they are in shock. Why?
Why do people feel defeated when they need medication? Do they feel like a failure if they get a sinus infection and need antibiotics? Do they get angry for having a migraine and needing medication to help it? It’s as if it’s their fault that they got arthritis, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. And again, while diet therapy can help control these chronic issues, medication has its place and thank God we have it.
This month, I had blood drawn for my annual physical. I’ll admit, I had cookies over the holidays and my share of cheese but did not go overboard. In fact, my weight did not change and neither did my exercise level. But, you can’t outrun your heredity. My cholesterol is close to 240 and LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol is nearly 150. With a chronic inflammatory illness and family history of heart disease, my risk for heart disease is higher than most.
So, guess what? My doctor practically insisted that I start medicine to lower my cholesterol. Am I happy about it? No. But do I want to have a heart attack or need bypass surgery in the next 10 years? Definitely not. I will continue to eat a healthy diet to help reduce my risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. I will continue to exercise to maintain decent joint function and keep my weight in check. Dietitians are not super humans. We are people with chronic diseases just like the clients we help. We recognize that diet therapy can only do so much. And that is OK.
Have you seen the headlines today for the latest “diet”? I think it’s pretty exciting that researchers were not only looking at nutrition, but environmental sustainability. I (unlike some people who shall remain nameless), believe that global warming is REAL.
I am all for less sugar and less red meat and more fruit, veggies, nuts and whole grains. Cheese and other dairy still allowed? Win win. I suppose my only concern is the 2500 calorie mark. This (to me) is likely too high for women and anyone trying to lose weight (unless you’re a big person or super active). What are your thoughts? Article below.
Do you need some quick meal ideas using pantry staples, or want to know how to prevent food waste? It may surprise you that 40% of the food in the US ends up in a landfill. If you’re curious about making the most of your food dollar, join me tonight (January 10) and every Thursday until January 31 to “taste, don’t waste”. Class meets at Starfire from 6:30-7:30 PM. The fee is $60.00 for the series, payable via PayPal to email@example.com
This hour long class will teach you shopping and cooking techniques as well as ways to season food and up-cycle leftovers. Click on the link to sign up! Space is limited. Call 513-675-6780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.