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Summer Nutrition Challenge: Week 13

Posted Sep 09 2013 5:31pm

REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION TO FRIDAY & SATURDAY ONLY.

C’mon don’t act like this one came out of left field or that you’re shocked. We all know that alcohol is nothing but empty calories. We may not want to admit it, but we know that alcohol is certainly not healthy for us. If all foods and beverages can be described as either adding to health or taking away from health, I think it’s pretty obvious that alcohol fits into the latter. We learned in a previous post that carbohydrates & protein give us 4 calories per gram and fat gives us 9 calories per gram. Well folks, alcohol give us 7 calories per gram. (Source 1) That’s almost double the calories you get when eating carbs or protein and those calories add up fast.

So if just the calorie counts alone weren’t enough to convince you to give up alcohol for a bit, let’s get into some health reasons why.

Psychological Response

Consuming alcohol causes a reduction in our inhibitions and makes it really very easy to make bad decisions. I am only going to focus on the food decisions that are made while one is drinking. “Hey let’s go out after work for drinks and a salad”…said NO ONE EVER. It usually sounds like this “hey let’s go out after work for drinks and apps.” Yup apps, appetizers, whatever you want to call them, I know what I don’t call them…good for you.  I’m sorry but there is no way mozzarella sticks, Buffalo wings, loaded nachos, potato skins, or chili cheese fries are remotely healthy. Those items pack a huge calorie punch and when paired with alcoholic drinks will most likely cost you your entire daily calorie allowance in one meal. Now if this splurge is done every so often then no big deal.  But for the majority, booze and junk food go hand-in-hand. And I know it’s common for some to throw in the towel with their eating once one meal’s worth of bad decisions have been made. You know the ol’ “I just ruined my “diet” so might as well eat whatever I want.” This is where the wheels fall off the wagon and most give up. Which reminds of this pin…

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Spurce: mamakat77

Hormone Response

Consuming alcohol alters our normal blood sugar regulation by disruption the action of insulin and glucagon which can lead to systemic inflammation. (Source 2) So what exactly does that mean? Remember that insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to a high carbohydrate/sugar meal. Insulin takes sugar from the blood and allows it to enter cells for storage. This is good. If our bodies didn’t do this our blood sugar would remain high and we would be on our way to diabetes. Glucagon is the opposite of insulin. It’s released from the pancreas when blood sugar levels are too low. Glucagon and insulin work synergistically to keep our blood sugar in check. Alcohol consumption messes with this.

Gut Health

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can alter the balance of our gut flora and lead to gut dysbiosis. (Source 3)

It Disrupts Sleep

I don’t know about you, but I find that when I drink close to my bed time I have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, I wake up earlier than I want to, and I don’t feel rested at all when I do wake up. I remember saying to myself that if you wake up before your alarm clock (or on your own) then it should be a rule that you are not tired. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together and realize that my glass of wine before bed was the cause of my sleep disturbances.

According to sleepacadamy.org:

“The consumption of alcoholic beverages before bedtime, interestingly enough, will effectively serve to cut the number of hours actually acquired in half. In fact, drinking alcohol at any time three hours or less before bed can lead to both early waking and disruptions in the sleep cycle on the whole. Studies have shown that the consumption of alcohol even just an hour before bedtime causes major disruptions in the second part of the sleep cycle, which will lead to early awakening.”

Ah, so I wasn’t crazy….it was the glass of wine before bed messing with my sleep.

It’s Toxic

Finally, alcohol is neurotoxic-even in small amounts. It alters the normal activity of our nervous system causing damage to nerve tissue and even killing of neurons (the cells that process and transmit signals in the brain.) (Source 2)

I’ve given you a list of only 5 reasons why alcohol does not promote good health. Trust me, with the research I did there are lots more that I could have listed but I wanted to keep this post to the most important ones IMO. The 2 reasons why I don’t drink often come down to the empty calories and the sleep disruptions. I am only 4’11” tall and I noticed this summer that while on school vacation it was very easy to indulge in a glass of wine several times a week. Those calories really added up for me and I started to notice that I was getting a little thick in the middle. For me, I spend too much time eating clean & working out to throw away all my hard work and commitment on booze. It’s just not that important to me. I’ve made rules in the past that I will only drink when it’s social with friends and not just me and Brent hanging out in front of the TV. I’m cool with a cup of tea.  There is a new paleo challenge starting up at my CrossFit box on September 16th called a Lurong Challenge . Although I will not be paying to participate, I do plan on using the 2 month period to take a break from drinking and my occasional indulgence of “top of the fridge foods.” My top of the fridge foods consist of any or all of the following: plantain chips, veggie straws, potato chip, popcorn, or any other gluten-free processed junk food that either my kids or Brent likes. I keep them on top of the fridge to make it hard for me to get to them because frankly I can’t reach them (insert short joke here.) In order for me to get to them I need to grab a kitchen chair and stand on it to reach the goodies. Doing that requires actual thought and that is usually enough to dissuade me from eating them…most times.

PamSignature

 

 

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