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Do you feel like alcohol is the reason your diet is not going well? You might be right! It’s hard to know how much is OK when dieting. Should it be zero, a few drinks once in a while or a few sips every day? Let’s see why alcohol might be holding you back and how to change that.

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Alcohol is a somewhat hidden issue for people who are trying to manage their weight or simply improve their lifestyle. It’s socially accepted and it doesn’t provoke such a negative reaction as junk food so it’s easy for a few drinks to fly under the radar. The problem is that alcohol carries a lot of calories just like junk food and doesn’t bring you much in terms of essential nutrients or satiety.

Glasses of alcohol
The average 0,5 l (17 oz.) of beer contains about 150 kcal, amount equivalent to 3-4 slices of bread. © Profimedia

You should focus on your alcohol consumption even if the extra calories aren’t a problem for you. It’s common to drink alcohol in the evening, which makes it really easy for alcohol to ruin your sleep quality. It might create the illusion that you fall asleep quickly and easily. But research shows that alcohol consumption reduces the amount of REM sleep, makes your sleep more fragmented and you’re more likely to wake up throughout the night.

Drinking alcohol can also stimulate your appetite and make that late-night snacking you want to avoid much more likely. Combining the extra calories, worse sleep, and increased appetite, it’s easy to see how alcohol can be a big obstacle in your journey towards a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Burger with beer
Alcohol stimulates your appetite.

Don’t have an “all or nothing” mindset

It’s common to think “well, I can’t give up alcohol so might as well keep doing what I do.” But that’s not a helpful attitude. Even a small change can have a big impact over time. You can start by asking yourself what action you could take to feel a little better about your alcohol intake? Maybe one glass tonight instead of two? Could you drink slowly so that one glass lasts longer? Or could you have a glass of water between cocktails? Unless alcohol has a significant negative impact, there’s no need to take drastic measures. Small changes like this will be more sustainable for sure.

Wine glass
What about just one glass instead of two?

Drink because you genuinely enjoy it

Another thing that will improve your relationship with alcohol is focusing on the reason why you drink it. If you drink because of stress or out of a habit, it’s much more likely to get out of hand and become a bigger issue. But if you drink because it brings pleasure and adds value to your life then you’re more likely to stay in charge of how much and when you drink.

Trade-offs

Think of drinking alcohol as a trade-off. Limiting alcohol is not done in a vacuum. There’s always a trade-off. For example, getting six-pack abs might mean giving up those few Friday and Saturday drinks every week. Or improving sleep and mood might mean giving up your daily wine with dinner. You should always be clear about what you’re going to gain by giving up or limiting alcohol consumption. That will make it much easier to stick with your new habit.

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