Belly Dance Fitness for You

Belly Dancers: Just One Drink? Be Smart

One of the top rules in dieting has always been to cut out alcoholic beverages first. This is because alcohol intake equals empty calories, or calories without nutritional benefit. But during a stressful holiday season, it can be difficult to turn down that glass of red wine, even when you know the effects can be an extra pound or two.

Why alcohol is bad for you?

Alcohol is digested first before carbohydrates or fat, and as Robert C. Atkins is quoted as saying on, “Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that's going on, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop the weight loss, it simply postpones it”. In addition to delaying weight burn, alcohol can also decrease your diet determination. Anyone who’s had a few drinks can relate to the lessening of your resolve to avoid that extra slice of pie or helping of stuffing. That’s because alcohol can simulate appetite. So if you weren’t hungry before your drink, you may be hungry after.

According to Spark People, “Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it causes water loss and dehydration. Along with this water loss you lose important minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc.”  Water intake is essential to a successful diet, so anything that gets in the way of water consumption can end up being more detrimental than you’d have thought. With all this discussion on how alcohol is bad, how can you avoid these drinks?

The most obvious answer is to avoid social gatherings with alcohol. This means choosing locations for outings that don't serve alcohol, which at a shopping mall can be easy, but for dinner may prove more difficult. You can also choose to stop keeping alcoholic beverages at home. A trip to the store after all day working can be enough of a deterrent.

But if you’re a social butterfly belly dancer, avoiding locations with alcohol is like finding a bed in a hotel without a mattress - it just doesn’t make sense.  Another alternative is to grab a glass of zero or low calorie beverages, like diet soda, when you go out for the night. Better yet, sip on water, and keep getting it refilled. Drinking water can help you lose weight.

If you drink when you’re stressed or upset, find alternative routes to deal (like belly dance!). Using alcohol to cope is already unhealthy, you don’t need extra pounds around the waist to keep you angry.

Sometimes the hardest part about not drinking at a bar, is being the only person at the bar not drinking. To avoid feeling out of place, offer to give people a ride home. Your friends won’t be as likely to give you a hard time when they save money on a cab ride. Also, many bars had designated driver deals where you can drink free soda (diet please!) all night.

Eliminating all alcohol is a good option, but if you can’t get rid of it entirely, drink smart.

According to MSNBC, this means that men need to drink less than two drinks per day, or one drink for women. If you’re looking for the magical one drink limit, “One drink is defined as a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine, 12 ounces of regular beer (1 bottle) or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.”  

When combining spirits with mixers, avoid calorie-laden soft drinks and syrups. In an article on WebMD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson Dawn Blatner-Jackson, MS, RD, is quoted as saying "You can save 100 calories if you have a diet soda as your mixer."  

Alternate alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will this save you money and calories, but you can avoid a hangover by staying hydrated.

At the end of the day, willpower is an important part of dieting. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be work. Try to keep a journal of how you feel daily. Drinking shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your life, and you may find that by decreasing your alcohol, you might not miss it all that much.