Alcohol and the Middle Aged Woman

Google the title of this post and a whole lot of articles will show up. When teens drink, it’s a social problem. When middle aged women drink, it’s a health problem. And since we’re bringing things into the light, I drink way too much.

What’s “way too much”? First, it’s important (to me) to say that I fail all “Are you an alcoholic?” questionnaires. I don’t blame anything on my drinking. I don’t drink in the day. (though I do think about it.) I don’t ever miss anything because of a hangover. Alcohol doesn’t impede my work or my family life.

Rather, wine is a bad habit like peanut butter on whole wheat toast. It’s a fine thing which isn’t fine if certain limits are exceeded. Experts say that “safe” for most women is 14 units per week with at least two days with no alcohol at all. You’ll have to google alcohol units if you don’t speak that language. There are good calculators online. Lately, I’ve been drinking 21 units per week with no alcohol-free days.

I use wine like I use food – to numb or to distract from anxiety over the unknown. I’m fully aware that I have other coping strategies too but food and drink are the most enjoyable by a long shot. I’m afraid that the old “take a bubble bath” suggestion has never done it for me.

I also know that wine makes weight loss difficult and weight gain really really easy. It doesn’t have a lot of calories but I certainly eat more sweet and salty food when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. It also creates wine belly – which is probably the more accurate term for grief belly. Wine also interrupts my sleep and causes hot flashes which all make losing weight harder.

So here’s what happened yesterday. I bought a bottle of Valpoicella – one that I really like – and decided to savour it over 4 days. I planned how much I would pour. I planned when I would drink it. I got home after a long day and made dinner (a very strange dinner but it was a meal). Then I opened the wine and found it was corked! Ha! Foiled.

But in a good way. I just had to get on with my evening. I went to bed early, slept well and got up early. I feel happy about giving my liver a break.

First posted August 2013