Women and Alcohol (the not so pretty picture)

Recent Australian research indicates that women over the age of 45 are the highest consumers of alcohol after the 18-25 year olds.  If you’re regularly consuming 2-3 glasses of wine more than 4 days a week, this could be you!

Australia’s problem only?  Sorry, no.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran this article:

“Gallup pollsters have repeatedly found that the more educated and well off a woman is, the more likely she is to imbibe. White women are more likely to drink than women of other racial backgrounds, but in the past few decades the percentage of women who classify themselves as regular drinkers has risen across the board.

An analysis of the drinking habits of 85,000 Americans in 2002 found that 47% of white women reported being regular drinkers, up from 37% in 1992. The percentage of black women who said they drank regularly rose from 21% to 30%, and the percentage of Hispanic women who said the same grew from 24% to 32%. (American Indian and Asian-American women were not recorded in the study)”.

Queensland University of Technology researcher Hanna Watling had this to say about her findings,

“My preliminary study suggests that for women in their 40s and 50s, drinking is not about getting drunk.”

“Instead it’s more that alcohol becomes a greater part of everyday life as you age, for example having a wine with dinner or in front of the TV. Alcohol also becomes a way of dealing with the stresses of busy lives such as family worries, work pressures or social commitments.

“But on the other hand what we are seeing is that with age there is an increase of women who are placing themselves at risk of a host of long-term negative health outcomes such as liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for many cancers, such as breast cancer.”

Not great news is it?

As the research indicated, alcohol has become an integral part of the way we socialise and relax.  As our lives become busier and more stressful (who’d have thought it would become tougher as we age and not easier!!!) it becomes really important to find way to decompress and socialise that  don’t involve potentially harmful substances.

I love a glass of chardonnay – it’s my vice.  For me a glass of wine is about relaxing, it symbolises summer and long hot evenings in the garden.  I know it doesn’t agree with me!  It plays havoc with fat burning hormones and impairs my best performance in my training.  So I’m constantly looking for better strategies to relax.

When I look for life philosophies I go to the greats for inspiration (lol).  And one of the “greats” is Australian/Russian boxer Kostya Tszyu who wrote in his book Fighting Fit, “the only way to rid yourself of an emotion or habit is to replace it.  When you give up drinking…..you are not really replacing alcohol, you are replacing a need, a craving.”

(And shame on you for thinking you couldn’t learn from a boxer – this is one smart man!).

He goes on to say “those who feel they might drink too much will replace their nightly (wine) with green tea and make it a pleasant experience by sitting out on the balcony and having time alone or chatting with their husband or wife.  Whatever works for you!  Don’t try to discard the bad habit, replace it!”

Now there’s wisdom!  Obviously exercise is a KEY strategy for reducing stress; scheduling time for yourself to do something you love will be helpful; finding a quiet time to read or meditate or just think might work for you.   When I’m not punching things, I love my garden – it’s a place of quiet and beauty that appeals to the yin in my nature and balances the yang of high intensity exercise like boxing!

Education and awareness are so important in understanding your health and the choices you make with your nutrition.  If this is important to you, THIS is another very smart man who wants to help you understand the food and drink choice you’re making!

Stay in touch on the blog and share your strategies for how you replace negative habits with the positive.  We love hearing your feedback and everyone gets to share the wisdom.