Monday, 27 July 2015

The Jane Plan Diet - Part 2: Stop drinking your calories

It’s tempting to reach for a glass of wine to reduce stress, but just learn to say no with these Jane Plan Diet strategies

Written by Jane Michell
The latest government statistics show that behind the closed doors of many homes, alcohol consumption has reached an all-time high. And, unlike in the past, women are now the biggest culprits.

Almost one in five women drinks to excess – and the number who drink more than the recommended maximum number of units (14 per week for a woman) has grown by a fifth in the past decade, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics. By contrast, men’s drinking habits have remained constant over the past 10 years. (The recommended maximum number of units for a man is 21.)

Ladies, we lead tough, stressful lives, and I know that even pouring a drop of wine into a glass can instil a feeling of calm, but if you’re trying to lose weight the Jane Plan way, alcohol is a definite nono: certainly in the first two weeks or so.

The reason? Not only is alcohol high in calories (about 7 calories per gram; almost as high as fat), but it also has little nutritional value. What’s more, it can add unwanted pounds, push up blood pressure, damage your liver as well as increasing the risk of some cancers, including breast cancer. So cutting back on alcohol isn’t just good for your waistline, it’s good for your health, too.

And of course, after a couple of drinks, you are more likely to lose your ‘diet’ resolve. As the old saying goes, ‘Willpower is soluble in alcohol.’ That said, I do know how hard it can be to give up on that evening glass of wine for good, so if you’re really struggling, try to give up completely during your first week, then have a rethink to see if you can bear another wine-free week.

Keep repeating this exercise, remembering that it takes 28 days to break a habit. After a month, reintroduce wine at weekends, but no more than two glasses on two nights. Pour your wine into a tall, thin glass, and make sure you always take three sips of water for every sip of wine, to keep yourself fully hydrated.

Always buy the best-quality wine you can afford, and savour every sip. You will drink less, and the more expensive the wine the less you will be tempted to glug it down without thinking.

I know how tricky some moments can be when you would just kill for a glass of wine; for example, straight after work, when the children go to bed, or while cooking the dinner. The secret is to put some coping strategies in place to stop you reaching for the bottle.

The office-to-the-wine-bar moment
It’s easy to get into the habit of rushing from the office to the wine bar in an attempt to relax after the pressures of the day, but the truth is a glass or two of wine will increase stress levels as well as expanding your waistline.

Adopt another habit, such as going to the gym or running. If it’s company you’re after, go to a film after work with a friend or for a browse around the shops on your way home.

The wine o’clock moment
Mums, you know this only too well. As soon as the children hit the pillow all you want is a glass of wine.

Don’t keep chilled wine in the fridge. Pour yourself some fizzy mineral water or a slimline tonic, add a slice of lemon or lime and some crushed ice. Then sit down and savour it.

The chop-chop-chop, sip-sip-sip moment
You open the bottle as you’re cooking supper, but before you know it you have quaffed half of it before you’ve even sat down at the table.

Keep the bottle unopened until dinner is ready and listen to music as you cook – it will help to fill the void that the glass of wine has left.

The secret-drinking moment
You nip into the kitchen after your dinner guests have gone and carry on drinking. Stop kidding yourself that you deserve it. All you are doing is adding another 180 calories to your daily count and increasing the risk of a hangover.

Think of wine as a treat to be enjoyed with family and friends.

In our 7 August issue: recipes to reduce your waist and increase your taste. The Jane Plan Diet, by Jane Michell, is published by Piatkus, priced £13.99.

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