Last night I watched a programme on the BBC called The Truth About Alcohol.
(Thanks for the tip SW6Mum)
It was a light hearted look at the effects that alcohol has on the body.
It was a tad trivial, with the usual discussion about 'how to avoid hangovers', and 'why a little red wine is actually good for you.' But, even so, great to have a programme about the negative effects of booze on prime time TV.
Inevitably, they looked at the impact alcohol has on our weight.
Now, we all know that alcohol is full of 'empty calories', and they pointed out that drinking a pint of beer has the same effect, calorie wise, as eating a jam donut. A glass of wine is like eating a tea cake.
If I ever think about taking up booze again, I imagine sitting in front of the TV and eating five tea cakes in swift succession. Bleurgh!
But that wasn't the interesting bit.
They then took two groups of young men and put each group in a room with 2 pints of beer each, and several bowls of snacks.
What the men didn't know is that whilst one group were drinking 'proper beer', the other group had alcohol free beer (my favourite: Becks Blue. They ought to sponsor me).
After about an hour they totted up the results and discovered that the group with the real beer ate significantly more than the Becks Blue chaps. The booze made them hungrier.
And when you added the booze calories and snack calories together, the boozy lot demolished 30% more calories than the others.
Imagine doing that every night!
And we've all been there, haven't we? Hoovering up the crisps at the drinks party, ordering Death by Chocolate at the restaurant, or raiding the snack cupboard after a big night out.
Plus, what they didn't discuss in the programme is the morning after!
If you wake up with a hangover the last thing in the world you want for breakfast is a green smoothie. Oh no! You want CARBS. And FAT. Preferably combined in something like a bacon sandwich, or a greasy fry up.
It's no wonder I gained 21 pounds in a decade. Frankly, it's a miracle it wasn't more.
But, here's my (familiar to all you regular readers) health warning:
DO NOT EXPECT TO LOSE WEIGHT STRAIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU QUIT.
I know. It's really unfair. You give up all those calories and then..... Nothing. In fact, many people GAIN weight initially.
Do not panic. Our metabolisms are complicated machines, and they take a while to adjust. And you'll probably crave sugar initially. Quitting booze is not easy, and if cake helps then EAT IT.
Most people find that, at around 100 days alcohol free, the weight starts to come off. Slowly slowly. About half a pound a week.
(Plus, even before the scales start moving you'll notice that you look much less puffy and the wine belly starts shrinking).
And here's the magic thing: it stays off! Unlike every other 'diet' I've ever done.
Fourteen months in and I've lost that 21 pounds, without changing the amount I eat all all.
I've stopped losing weight now, but it's not going back on. And I still eat cake.
So, if you weren't already convinced that quitting booze was the right thing to do, then look down at that wine belly and think again..,.
Love SM x