There’s a ton of information available online about the health benefits of alcohol. And the harm it can do (from inebriation and just health-related).
I’m just here to give my personal opinion on the topic.
I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had a drink on a daily basis. I’ve certainly gone through phases where I’ve started football Saturdays with a drink at 10am and spent the whole day trying to keep up with the boys. (That really never turned out well, for the record.) I grew up with nightly happy hour – my brothers and I were allowed a soda while my parents had a glass of wine or rum and Coke.
Now I’m working an unpaid internship 40+ hours a week and I’ve just fallen out of the habit. Because it absolutely was a habit this time last year.
I don’t see the harm in having a drink a few times a week. Or every night, if you prefer. As long as you’re happy with your health and with your weight. But regular alcohol consumption has been associated with high triglycerides which can be worrisome if you have other risk factors for heart disease. It’s also been associated with increased risk of various cancers and there’s also the obvious liver damage. Plus, because the body perceives alcohol as a toxin it puts all other fuel on hold and metabolizes the alcohol first. That pizza you’re enjoying with your beer? Going to be turned into fat and head straight to your hips or gut while the beer is used for energy to fuel the rest of your evening.
So if you’re otherwise healthy and still have some room left in your calorie balance for the day, enjoy your drink.
I personally have significantly cut back because
- It’s expensive and I’m not earning money right now.
- I’ve put on 5-10 lbs in the last 9 months and I’d rather lose those than spend my (non-existant) money on new pants.
- I’ve noticed recently that even after one drink I’m a lot more likely to want to indulge in a dessert that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to if I were sober.
- If I have more than one drink before bed I’ll wake up thirsty and hot a few hours later as my body metabolizes the last of the alcohol, so I end up losing sleep.
- I wake up between 4:45 and 5am six days of the week to either workout before my internship or to get ready for a 5:45 bakery shift. And it’s a struggle to get out of bed even if I didn’t have a drink the night before.
- Since Saturdays are my only chance to sleep in, Friday nights are really the only night that I can drink and not feel the repercussions the next day.
- My go to drinks at home are beer or wine, with red wine being my preference in colder months (I don’t really want cold beer when I’m already cold). And they don’t sell decent wine in single serving containers. It’s easier not to buy the bottle (or even the mini-box) so that I don’t feel the need to rush and finish it off before it starts to turn, because then I’ll have multiple mornings of sluggishness.
I had two beers last night (the relatively low ABV Smithwicks in honor of St. Paddy) and I’m still having trouble getting my thoughts moving this morning. Maybe I’m just getting old.
Will my habits change next month as the weather stays warm, I finish my internship, and am able to pick up more shifts at the bakery? Maybe. But I also plan to keep sparkling water in the fridge (La Croix or Dasani or whatever is unsweetened and on sale) to enjoy on the porch after work, so maybe not.
So I’m not someone who says you shouldn’t drink. But you should still consider your health, your family health history, and whether or not the drinking is a habit or whether it’s a genuine pleasure. If it’s just habit at this point maybe it’s time to at least consider stepping away for a week or so and let it become something special again. You might even lose a pound or two in the process.
Hey, we’re all unique. The information on this blog isn’t a substitute for individualized advice from a healthcare professional. Check with your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle.