I love a glass of dark red wine, hints of chocolate, the feel of the earth upon my tongue, the aroma of a forest in my glass. I love red wine so much, I invent descriptive phrases, like, “She is wild and untamed, a complicated spirit, both bold and shy. Her feet are adorned with leather, white roses decorate her hair.”
But this isn’t a post about my expressions for red wine. This is a post about health.
Red wine is said to contain health benefits (though I think that information was invented by the wine industry), lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancers. It can even eliminate an upset stomach. (The last one I can attest to.)
But every good thing has its downside, and wine is no different. Liver damage, disturbed sleep patterns, and weight gain are among the detrimental side effects of too much wine.
My husband and I have long enjoyed wine. For many months it was our beverage of choice with our evening meal, just a half-ounce or an ounce to keep cancer and heart risk at bay.
But apparently our budget didn’t love wine as much as we did. We found ourselves spending more than we wanted on this simple luxury. So we did what all good couples would do, we cut back.
Instead of drinking wine each evening, it became a weekend indulgence, and instead of sticking to my little half-ounce, I upped the amount, just a bit. My husband did the same. We ended up drinking the same amount, but in a shorter amount of time.
(Now, before you think we are a couple of lushes, or as Bing Crosby calls Fred Astaire (in the movie “Holiday Inn”), ‘fractured,’ keep in mind the amount we drank was still nothing compared to the amount doctors claim we can have (one glass for women per day, two for men, the typical glass containing five ounces). Still, it was too much for us. (Especially for a girl who passes out after an ounce or two).)
Like most everyone, our weekends had become our time to unwind, and wine was our weapon of choice, so when the holidays hit this last year, it was easy to carry our weekend unwinding into weekday celebrations. But by the end of the year, I began to notice something.
I wasn’t feeling well. Neither was my husband. Since we knew wine could help our stomachs, guess what we did? Yup, we drank more wine. (I never said we were quick learners.)
By early March, something snapped in both of us. I’m not sure of the key moment, but one day we looked at each other and said, “Enough.” And for the first time in years, we gave up wine. We turned our wine into water.
It wasn’t a magical moment. We didn’t turn into energy machines, and we certainly didn’t feel better. In fact, the first two weeks were pretty crappy. We were tired, restless at night, dreamt wild dreams, and our bodies went through some crazy cleanse.
I never thought of us as heavy drinkers, and by society’s standards, and according to doctors, we weren’t. Yet the constant stream of wine had begun to take a toll. It was when we let go of wine and drank more water that we began to see the impact.
I have always drank a lot of water. But I wonder if it was enough, considering how alcohol has a tendency to dehydrate our bodies, causing us to lose water quickly. And my husband has been borderline dehydrated many times he has had a physical. Crazy, considering we a world full of water.
Water is a necessary ingredient in our bodies, with many benefits. Here are a few:
BENEFITS OF WATER:
Hydration. Our bodies contain about 60% water. If we are sweating and eliminating water, our bodies expect to be replenished.
Calorie-Stopper. If we fill our bodies with the necessary amount of water, it’s hard to over-eat.
Natural Skin Moisturizer. What better way to moisturize your body than from the inside out.
Prepares Muscles for Working-Out. Muscles need not only food, but water.
We discovered the health benefits of water, something I knew all along, but didn’t realize how much I was stopping those benefits by drinking wine. It wasn’t only health benefits we discovered by giving up wine. It seems there were other benefits we would discover:
Time. Without shopping for wine, and making extra stops at the store on Friday night, we have more time.
Money. We spend less. By spending less, we have money to give to a worthy cause.
Sleep. We sleep better, overall. I can’t say we never have disrupted nights of sleep, but it is better than it used to be.
Health. My wine belly is gone, and my husband has lost weight. Both reasons to celebrate.
I still love a good glass of red wine. But now it will be a treat reserved for special occasions, which not only simplifies my life, but expands the budget. For now, I will enjoy a great glass of water.
If you have a hard time drinking water (I know many people who find water disgusting), here are a few things you can do.
- Add lemon, lime, or a squeeze of fresh orange.
- Add cucumber and celery.
- Add mint and a touch of honey.
- Add smashed berries.
- If you are having a really difficult time, try some sparkling water with the above ideas. It tastes like soda!
Have a simply happy, healthy day.