Yesterday, I began a 5-Part series on how I made the decision to cut back, or basically, “break-up” with my good friend WINE.
It was not an easy decision to make and it came with a PROCESS like all good changes do.
Today, I’m going to take you through my BODY’s process and why I knew this change for my health was a much needed change for my BODY.
To get the context of how this particular health decision came to fruition I should explain that my body has been through A LOT of ups and downs because of my constant struggle with “trying to lose weight” and taking more and more severe measures to achieve that.
I would out myself as a “Strict-Binger” in the yo-yo dieting circus of my life.
Because I was so motivated to always get “leaner and leaner” I would practice incredibly STRICT diets of eliminating sugar, candy, high fat foods, grains and other carbs and replace them with protein supplements, artificial sweeteners and other “fake” processed food.
I would do this with a goal in mind, like, a vacation or a weekend night out. I would be super STRICT on my diet, exercise like a maniac (easily 2-3 hours a day) and then on my night out or vacation……BINGE city baby!! One drink of wine…..led to some cheese….which led to dessert and REPEAT until I basically fell out.
Then, as I inevitably put on anywhere from 5-10lbs over the weekend, out of guilt and shame I would go even stricter the next time around.
Each time, I would need larger and larger goals to keep me motivated to lose weight and workout like a crazy person!
This yo-yo mini-cycle eventually led me to the decision to do the bikini competition which I spoke about in my blog HERE. This competition required 5 months straight of no cheating, no alcohol, low low carb and high high protein. It was the longest I had gone on my overly strict regimen, for sure!
This bikini competition, like for so many of my fellow bloggers HERE and HERE and HERE came with some severe body consequences. I suffered from amorrhea (losing one’s menstrual cycle) and definite signs of nutrient deficiency throughout my body as well as some hormonal issues that I haven’t even figured out yet.
What was more, was the whirl wind part of my life was coming into high gear. My “ex boyfriend,” had decided to show up to my bikini competition as a surprise after 18-months of not hearing from or seeing him. As we reconnected a little on the day of my show about 5 days later called me and confessed he knew I was “the one” and then all of a sudden we were engaged! WHIRL WIND!!
So after a 5-month period of single living, uber strict eating, no alcohol, no cheating and crazy amounts of exercise…..within just a few short weeks, I was celebrating one of the most exciting times of my life and eating and drinking my way to enjoying it! Everything was cause for alcohol—with no one better than my best drinking mate of course! Everything was cause for celebration and indulgence and vacation after vacation after vacation!
So this ULTIMATE YO-YO of dieting lead to some pretty severe stomach issues. I still suffer from
digestive tract issues that I am not sure what is going on,
still ………after 18-months post-competition. 🙁
I AM making progress though and I have completely changed my approach on eating food. Instead of the Strict/Binge nutzo cycle, I now eat and promote a holistic approach to eating where you eat whole, unprocessed foods most of the time without being overly strict about it. I advocate this eating not just because it works for me (and my issues), but because it’s the most sustainable and least binge-inducing form of eating there is! Period.
So, as I cleaned up my eating quite easily (for me), there was this whole WINE issue that was clearly needing to be addressed in my body too.
One thing was certain, as fun as she was to hang-out with, my friend WINE made me feel pretty bad. Like, really, really bad.
While from a nutritional standpoint, I know alcohol wasn’t the only cause for my body issues, it certainly was a huge culprit that exacerbated the affects of all that was going on in my body.
Alcohol has no nutrition. It has calories of course (7 calories per gram) but it is void of all vitamins and minerals.
(As a reminder) Among other functions, vitamins and minerals are the essential components that allow our food to be broken down to be used as fuel.
Vitamins and Minerals are absorbed in the gut, mainly the small intestine, and then carried all over your body to do their functional thing.
Now, I know what you are thinking! Yes, wine does have some nutrients because of those antioxidants from the wine skins, but the problem for someone like me, who was having some digestive issues, is the good does NOT out weigh the bad.
When we ingest alcohol, our bodies want to get it digested FIRST before anything else! It is what’s called “highly reactive,” biochemically speaking.
(If I might pull out some random memory of my degree in Biology/Biochemistry) the hydroxyl ending of alcohol (-OH) is highly reactive in our bodies, so it gets first priority to biochemical reactions as it gets sent down to the stomach, to the small intestines and over to the liver to be oxidized and metabolized (i.e. broken down).
This action overall slows down your metabolism because of our body’s need to oxidize alcohol so quickly to “detox” will lead to a slow down of ALL other systems. Some people who want to support their detox system make use of glutathione mercury detoxification so I hear. This is why some of my smart friends and mentors write articles about how alcohol inhibits fat loss too.
The problem is that not only is alcohol void of any vitamins and minerals itself, it is actually worse because it still requires vitamins and minerals from our body to get metabolized.
For this reason, it’s actually called an Anti-Nutrient because it basically steals the much needed vitamins and minerals from our bodies without replacing them!
So alcohol has been that friend that just takes and takes and takes and never gives anything back! Soooo rude, right?!
In addition to this fact, it can also lead to a whole host of other unfavorable affects. According to an article on the Telegraph.UK, alcohol “to varying degrees it can deplete minerals, affect microbes and bacteria in the gut, tax the immune system, interrupt sleep patterns, accelerate aging and lead to dehydration.”
These adverse affects can get even worse for some of us experiencing digestive issues.
According to website Alcohol Rehab
- * It can cause malabsorption so that the individual is not absorbing all the nutrients from food they need.
- * It may cause leaky gut syndrome where unwanted toxins are able to leak through the intestine into the rest of the body. These toxins then cause problems and lead to ill-health.
- * It can exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome
- *Alcohol can cause both diarrhea and constipation
In the same article, it also explains that for some really excessive drinkers, alcohol has actually not just shown poor nutrition, but MALNUTRITION. Malnutrition means that you are so severely nutrient deficient in macronutrient or micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), you are actually suffering sever body consequences and life threatening disorders. (wikipedia.com)
The reason is that because you are getting so many calories from the anti-nutrient alcohol, you are not hungry. When you’re not hungry, you’re not eating enough food to get the protein, energy and vitamins and minerals you need (or you’re just eating Taco Bell at 2am, which, let’s face it, is also not getting you many vitamins and minerals, either). It can become a very serious deal at this point!!
OK OK OK…..I can practically hear the whistles blowing and “Party Fouls” I’ve just been given though the interweb here. I get it, I’ve just put a major damper on some of your happy hour plans this weekend!
But, AGAIN, I am not here up on my soap box trying to tell YOU what to do. I am only telling you what was physically going on in MY body and one of the main reasons I had to step back.
Ultimately, alcohol does’t work so well in MY body. You might be one of those lucky people that has no adverse physical reactions to alcohol and might only feel some of the benefits that wine can bring. I’m just not one of those lucky ones.
If you are experiencing some intestinal issues or any other body symptoms that you think might be caused or exacerbated from alcohol, the only way to find out is to actually go through the process of elimination and reintroduction. This can go for ANY substance or food that you think might be giving your body some “issues”.
Elimination: For a period of minimum 21 days (preferably 30 days), you completely eliminate the food/drink group(s) from your system. Absolutely no cheating, sips, tastes or accidental ingestion. If you take one sip, you start your 21-30 days over.
Reintroduction: After going 30 days without the food/substance, you try moderately reintroducing it back into your diet. I have found the best practice to do this is to focus on just 1 meal, have a moderate portion of the item and take note of how you feel in the moment and how you feel the next day.
For some who are extra motivated, I always recommend the challenge “The Whole 30” and the book It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. They take you through 30 days of eliminating ALL things that might give a person digestive or body issues and then take the time to reintroduce each food group (including alcohol) back into your body. This is the best way to prove that your issues are caused by, say, alcohol, and not gluten AND alcohol.
It’s not an easy undertaking for some, and I always, ALWAYS caution my clients to see it as a testing experiment, NOT a diet of restrictive RULES to follow. The reason is that if you only focus on “losing weight” while restricting food/alcohol choices you will more than like binge on the foods when done (thereby making your 30-day experiment null and void) and you’ll be disappointed if you don’t “lose the amount of weight you thought you would by being so strict.”
It’s a system that is not about weight loss, its about body awareness. A key distinction!
After all of this, you would think that after feeling these adverse BODY affects to alcohol, it would have been a ‘no-brainer’ to just go without, but my relationship with WINE was not over just because I knew it had some adverse affects on my body.
No, I had to dig deeper to get to this point. Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the awakenings I had to MENTALLY get to the point of being able to break-up with my friend WINE.