Wine & Food

Snooth User: Erica Landin

Wine on a Diet (sigh)

Posted by Erica Landin, Aug 14, 2012.

Well if THAT's not the most boring topic I have started... but after a summer of excess (or actually, a couple of years) I've got to buckle down and get in shape. I've decided to follow a low-carb diet called "Paleo" or "caveman diet". Basically it's all about cooking from scratch with veggies, nuts, meat and very limited dairy and fruit. No grains. It works like any GI-diet - less carbs makes you less hungry and more satisfied, and you burn stored fat instead. Great so far.

But... Alcohol is a no-no on most diets including this one. It's got a decent amount of calories... A dry wine provides very little carbs but still a decent amount of calories, and the alcohol blocks the liver from converting fat to glucose until it's done processing.

However, I LOVE WINE! I DON'T WANT TO GIVE IT UP! Let's be honest: not a chance.

So, my question is: those of you who have spent some time losing weight in your life, how has drinking wine affected weight loss? Do you have any tricks or tips? Has a few glasses a week been ok or is it all or nothing?Any thoughts or inspirations on how to have my cake (well, wine) and eat it are highly appreciated.

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Replies

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 14, 2012.

Actually, "most diets" might be in the wrong. Check this out! http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholCaloriesAndWeight.html

YESSSS!

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 14, 2012.

Oh, even better, top Harvard researcher on weight and nutrition condones "drink wine in moderation daily". Yay!

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Reply by smithdaj54, Aug 14, 2012.

Wine is not the friendliest alcohol you can drink for weight loss, that'd be vodka gimlets...but I digress.  I lost a considerable amount of weight and I never gave up drinking.   I too couldn't give up wine.  I may have only had a glass or two, instead of a bottle.  It's also about cutting out the bad foods that slow down your metabolism.  Try and avoid beer and mixed drinks (sugar).  Overall, I think wine is part of a healthy diet.  

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Reply by outthere, Aug 14, 2012.

Quit dieting and exercise instead. Then you don't have to kid yourself about what you want to eat or drink. If diets actually worked Americans would be skinny. We went to the county fair the other day. OMFG is this country obese!?!

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 14, 2012.

Definitely agree with OT on exercise...I had been in a physical rut for a while, that is drinking too much without exercise. Now I'm mixing in two walk/runs a week of at least 3 miles each, a swim, and always a golf outing with my pops. 

As far as foods go, you probably know when it's in excess, so just gradually cutting out the trouble foods and trying to find other healthier foods that you actually like is my motto - 

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Reply by EMark, Aug 14, 2012.

I started taking mid-day constitutionals a few years ago--1.5 to 3 hours (lately it has been over the 100s F around here so the walks have been closer to 1.5 hours) 3 or 4 times a week.  It's nice to have the time to do it.  It has knocked my weight down, in addition to LDL and BP, and I eat what I want and drink wine every day.

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 14, 2012.

Congrats to you all for getting fit WITHOUT giving up on a lovely drop! Thanks for inspiring!

Sounds lovely to eat what you want just b/c of excercise, but frankly it hasn't been enough for me. I eat healthy most of the time (except wine journalist lunches - importers like to feed us) and work out three to five hours a week (spinning, dance, running) but nothing budges. However, when I cut the carbs, my sugar cravings go and I aquire that amazing thing called "self control" (now where have YOU been all my life). So more desperate measures it is. But not diet in the traditional sense of counting calories or eating only cauliflower soup. Just healthy, from scratch cooking with lots of veggies. It's actually the way I like to eat so it's not a bad thing

But I've been reading up on wine now - seems the zero wine view of most diets is false. A glass a day or a glass or two a few times a week should be no problem. Half an hour on a nordic walker burns less cals than a glass of wine, so to drop a few while still drinking wine I will have to be smart. I'm thinking I'll go for 10 days really strict just to "reset" the system (I've gotten into the habit of half a bottle a day over summer). After that I'll go back to that wonderfully annoying thing called "moderate drinking". If it doesn't work, I'll just have to learn to love my curves because no wine sounds like a boring life indeed. :)

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 14, 2012.

Another good rule: Try to put in some physical activity before wining whenever possible. Don't get caught up in the calories/treadmill equaling such and such an amount of wine. You'll probably find the wine tastes better after physical activity anyway, so it's a definite win/win

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Reply by EMark, Aug 14, 2012.

I just realized that I may have shaded the truth when I said that I eat what I want.  Technically, that is true.  However, a few years ago I found that I really did not have to eat lunch  (Presumably, as we age and our metabolism slows, our appetite decreases.)  So, I don't.  Obviously, that that reduces my input.  It would probably be better if I did eat lunch and skipped, or skrimped on, dinner.  But I like to make an occassion of the evening meal.  While preparing dinner I'm also usually noshing on olives, hummus or cheese in addition to starting into the wine of the evening. 

Jon, I'd never thought about it before, but I will endorse your "wine after physical activity" comment.  It seems to work well for me.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 15, 2012.

Emark, my folks gave up lunch a while ago for the same reasons.  Oh, that sounds like I'm saying you are as old as they are.

So here's the deal:  I just got back from Europe.  (okay, okay, enough, I know.)  Landed in Salt Lake City and I noticed right away that lots of folks in Europe weren't anorexically svelte at, say, my age (49), but while there we saw hardly any obese folks besides the Americans we ran into.  Why?  They walk, they stand on the Metro, they ride bikes (love the Vel Lib in Paris!), and they don't trip off everything they eat--primi, secondi, so what?  Americans DRIVE  everywhere and park as close as they can to the mall, then eat Cinnabon and Annie's Pretzels when they aren't actually hungry, or drink soda when they are thirsty and really need water, not sugar.  Then they freak out and diet. They don't live in walkable neighborhoods--their garages have to be as big as a wealthy Parisian's apartment.  Americans are obese but they don't drink nearly as much wine as Europeans.  You figure it out.

About three months ago, I suffered a ruptured disc in my back.  I couldn't drive and I couldn't ride my bike, but I could take BART to the city I work in and walk 1 1/4 miles to the office.  Guess what? I lost weight.  Did I drink less wine?  No.  A few weeks of that and my clothes were really loose on me.  I repeat, I'm a heck of a lot older than you are with the slower metabolism that involves.  Still, just that change caused me to lose a few pounds without trying.

Back in my thirties, I ran marathons.  Lots of them and reasonably fast, plus half marathons a lot faster.  I ate any damn thing I wanted and was lean as hell. 

Lesson:  Get more active.  Don't worry about a few glasses of wine.  Walk to the wine shop, don't order online, make a walk part of your daily and necessary routine. Skip dessert if you have to and if you want to keep drinking wine--as someone said to me, "you get your empty calories the way you like, I'll get mine the way I like." 

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 15, 2012.

Oh, I like that last quote FOXALL! ;) But actually, wine isn't empty calories since it provides antioxidants.

I do have the same realization every time I head over to the US. Landing in SLC is always a bit of a rough awakening when compared to Sweden. However, the US "way of life" is slowly taking its toll over here too - more people have started enjoying US fast-food and pizza, big takeaway lattes and sodas on a regular basis. Luckily, our gas is still so expensive and parking in big cities impossible to find, so at least we still walk more. Actually, when I come over to the states and see much of the food culture and the extra large lattes with syrup and whipped cream I'm surprised people are not heavier than they are! At the same time, I find it easier to eat healthy in the states because fresh veggies, fruit and meat is cheaper than in Sweden. I always drop pounds when I come over to visit my parents in Utah (except maybe when I add a long weekend in NYC - man that town has some delicious food!!!) and gain weight in Sweden (we have wonderful baked goods, plus the winters are so dark it feeds the sugar craving). But I know I am an exception to that equation.

Nice to know you are all finding ways to balance health, weight and the enjoyment of good wine!

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Reply by shsim, Aug 15, 2012.

Haha that quote is hilarious Foxall!

Exercise is definitely important! :D Make everything an exercise, like biking to work, walking instead of taking the elevator etc. Every little bit counts :)

Eat everything in moderation. But dont sacrifice what you love! I love my food but it is very important to know when you are full. Enjoying every bite of you food helps :) Portions in US is so big compared to where I come from so it is good to set aside a portion and put it away before you eat. And avoid sodas because they are empty calories and have no health benefits! Drink wine in place of them! :D 

Haha it is good to have a little extra weight in Sweden though because it is so cold! I was in Norway for awhile and the baked sweets are so delicious!! 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 15, 2012.

I noticed this trip to Europe that lots of younger people were drinking Coke and other American-style soft drinks with their meals.  Of course, it's taken generations of that kind of eating to reach the point we are at in America with obesity, so no surprise it's not showing yet.  In the Netherlands, the number of folks on bicycles at all ages in Leiden was impressive, and on the roads between Leiden and Amsterdam, you saw not so many private cars, and a fair number of bikes on the safe, smooth paths that parallel the roads.  All of this was viewed from windows of trains that were filled with people who went from here to there in Amsterdam and walked to the train and around their destinations.  Although the Dutch have a topography that makes the bike especially useful, the pattern repeated in other countries we visited.  It's just how things have developed there--and, oddly, NY has fairly low obesity rates compartatively for the same reason:  People don't drive.

The sodas were one thing I noticed, and the other was that more folks seemed to order food that you could eat without sitting down, less likely to go to a real restaurant.  Still nowhere near as bad as the US, but it's hard to see that the slow food movement is effective when things seem more American than ever.  Still, it's not that close.  We saw the odd Subway (not your worst choice), and of course McDonald's, but not in anything like the profusion.  Getting produce varied from country to country and many things were certainly more expensive but I live in California and even here we pay top dollar for beef that would be the very basic quality in Europe, and heirloom tomatoes can cost $6 per; in NYC, it's much more expensive still.  Good ice cream was amazingly cheap in Leiden (Soetenso, which also has insanely crafted candy that seems cheap for the workmanship) and not too bad in Rome--2 1/2 Euros for a not-so-piccolo scoop at Giolitti seems well worth it, and other places were cheaper and not at all bad.  (We had gelato twice a day in Rome--had to keep the kids fueled.)  So it all depends, I guess. We found a great farmer's market in Paris  in the 11th one day and just wished we needed more stuff, it was so good.

Okay, I have to come clean:  That was actually my own line.  It came about because my wife likes dessert, and I usually skip it and have a glass of wine at the end of the meal as well. There was a similar version that the sister of a winemaker said to me once, when she substituted her sister's wine for what was being served at a meeting:  "If I'm going to consume empty calories, they better be good."  Needless to say, I nodded in recognition and asked her if I could have a glass.

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 15, 2012.

Interesting observations and I would like to respond at length, but that would just be another one of my procrastinations. Have a deadline on the Future of Rioja and seriously have to buckle down. Will just say two things:

1. Heirloom tomatoes in Sweden are about 14 USD

2. Had a big discussion on twitter (I'm @ericawinetrips by the way) if I could take my own wine to a wedding last weekend where I knew they would serve plonk. In the end, my manners won to 75%, but we had a bottle of champagne hidden in a cooler under a table as a pre-dinner-drink for the hostesses. However, the view on twitter was that YES: bring the good wine. No use in wasting a perfectly lovely evening drinking mass produced crap and still getting the calories and the hangover. Regardless, it was an excellent party and my last night of debauchery before the diet started.

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Reply by shsim, Aug 15, 2012.

Hmm interesting point about fast food. Back home (Malaysia and Singapore), you can find plenty of fast food, but the portions are smaller. They tend to cater to the asian style of food as well. I used to eat Macdonalds almost every day as a teenager but I couldnt have done that here. But I am sure the intrusion of American fast food must have some sort of impact. 

Yea it is interesting that in Japan, fruits are more expensive than other food! It was like commodity over there! Dmcker can probably verify that. Perhaps i just did not go to the right place but we avoided the touristy areas and went to local markets and it was still expensive. 

Erica, let us know how everything goes! :) Don't give up the wine! 

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Reply by Erica Landin, Aug 15, 2012.

( By the way, I know I'm only on day four without wine, but spending all day writing about my favorite producer, R.Lopez de Heredia, without a single drop is really rough)

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Reply by gregt, Aug 15, 2012.

I think exercise is the key.

And the best exercise by far, if you're looking to lose weight, is called the push-away.

Doesn't matter if you're an American or Swede or whatever. 

Then the other thing Americans do is snack. Oh, just a little piece of candy, or just one donut, or just this little piece of pizza.  What happened to water? That's a good snack.

Finally, and I have this conversation several times a week, why are people so obsessed with three meals a day? When people rose before dawn they'd eat a hearty meal.  Why? Because for the next six hours they were plowing fields, hunting moose, pitching hay, or whatever. And they'd stop and have a huge mid-day meal called lunch.  Why? Because they'd been exercising non-stop all morning. That was called "work". Then at night they'd come in and have a supper, not a huge meal, argue with their spouses, and it was off to bed.  Calories burned: thousands.  Calories consumed: also thousands.

Today, people get up and have something quick that probably has as many calories as eggs and grits but that comes out of a package - say pre-made waffles or "granola" that's loaded with sugar.  Then they drive to wherever they're going, or in NYC, take the train, and then they sit. For hours.  Maybe snack just a little bit. Then it's lunch and that may be Chinese take-out, pizza, fast food, or a "healthy" wrap. Then it's back to sitting. For hours. And maybe a couple little snacks.  Then it's a nice big dinner because gee they're exhausted.  Calories burned: ten.  Calories consumed: thousands.

Gotta have those three square.

I look around where I work and 1/4 of the people are morbidly obese. "I walked up the stairs and that makes me breathe hard so I better get myself a smoothie to recover my strength. Besides, it's healthy."

The idea of maintaining the eating schedule of a peasant toiling the fields is ludicrous when most people would be quite fine with a single small meal a day or maybe a couple of snacks.

BTW Fox - that line is correct. I like sweets and even opened a pastry shop at one point. But last time I actually made a pastry was a few weeks ago and last time before that was Christmas. Can't live on sweets and wine alone!

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Reply by napagirl68, Aug 15, 2012.

Hi Erica,

I feel your pain!  For me, reaching the age of 40 changed everything that had worked for me, diet and exercise-wise, before.  AND being female complicates things as we have less muscle mass than men of the same age along with hormonal fluctuations.  As far as diet, what finally worked for me was eating lean meats, non starchy veggies, egg whites, and that was about it.  No grain, a few almonds here and there, no processed foods,no carbs, no fruits, etc.  Also, my female dr. told me the only way to trim down as a female after 40 was to SWEAT it off.  Most people do not get their heartrate up enough during walking, so I started jogging.  I soon came to love jogging, but then injured my achilles tendon which has ended my jogging career, except for light jogs here and there.  I am relegated to the dreaded elliptical, which is the most boring piece of exercise equipment ever.  Yet in the last year, I found the elliptical had become mostly ineffective.  After much research, I began pretty intense strength training, and only 3 20min elliptical sessions per week  (I was killing myself with 5x 45min sessions at peak heart rate with no results).  The elliptical is not weight bearing (good for joints) but not so good for muscles.  In short, I was losing muscle mass, thus lowering my metabolism.  Strength training is the key, IMO.

Back to the diet and wine.  When I was on the lean meat, non starchy veg, and egg white (combined with running), I was in the best shape ever- toned muscles, no aches/pains.  I also drank wine.  I drank any wine I wanted and did not limit it.  But my calorie intake was very low because of my limited diet, I had to be careful of "normal" wine consumption when taking in a very lowered amount of calories! When you cut calories a lot, wine can get to you fast!  However, wine did not seem to affect me glycemically, once I was established on this very limited diet.

Being a wine lover, I am also a food lover!  And that limited low carb diet I could not sustain indefinitely.  I added in whole wheat pasta, quinoa, etc.  And my weight loss stopped.  I then experimented with gluten free- rice pasta and corn tortillas.  That was a bit better.  But the bottom line for me was, if I ate that limited, low carb diet, I had no cravings and could turn away pasta/pizza anytime.  It takes about 3-4 days for hunger to go away once carbs are elimated, but it will. 

what I have found with eating carbs, even "good" carbs or gluten free carbs, is that my appetite is there always, on a low level.  If I drink wine, I tend to get the munchies.  I think for me, wine influences my appetite.  Since I am unable to permanently eat just chicken breast, lean beef, green veg and egg white, I have limited wines, most of the time, to the non-work nights only.  The caveat is: don't blow it on the weekends... a common mistake of overindulgence. 

Every person is different, and what will work for you may be very different than what works for me... I need low carb, intense weight bearing exercise and strength training to lose/maintain weight at this point in my life.  Others do better with a vegetarian diet, yoga, swimming, etc.  You have to find what works for you.   Wine does have calories, so don't overdo, but I do not believe, based on my experience, that it will kill a low carb diet, UNLESS it happens to make you crave after drinking it.

And remember:  It is human to underestimate what you eat and overestimate your exercise!! 

I track my food intake through mydailyplate.com.  you will be surprised how much you eat, calorie-wise, unless you watch it.  BTW- peanut butter is the worst!

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Reply by Shelley Bowen, Aug 15, 2012.

First of all, congratulations on the journey you have begun.  I feel I am somewhat of an expert in your area in that I have recently a) lost an incredible 47 pounds relatively painlessly, and b) not given up the wine at all.  And, might I add, I am a 45 year old woman of Eastern European descent (Ukrainian) who has been overweight for most of her adult life.  The key - tracking every single calorie through the ingenious app "My Fitness Pal", reading the book "Wheat Belly" and subsequently giving up gluten/flour, giving up sugar, and exercising moderately 5 or 6 days a week (let's be real, I'm on the treadmill for half an hour watching The Food Channel).  

You must be patient and give your body time to adjust.  Life is not too short to give up bread and sugar, but it is definitely too short to give up wine.  I allow myself one glass per day, and more if I feel like it.  I stick primarily to light white wines (I'm fiercely Canadian, so Okanagan Pinot Auxerrois or Riesling from Gray Monk vineyards are a house staple).  You can do it - and you can feel fantastic.  

Please keep us posted of your progress.  I have 10 more pounds to go before I hit my ultimate goal, and I'm going to do it!  You will too :)

 

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Reply by mrpicky, Aug 16, 2012.

Erica,

I could SO relate to your post! I just reached my goal weight (yesterday in fact) and have had quite a journey to get there.  I was 100% raw for 2.5 years and have tried Paleo and every other diet out there! I have learned that exercise makes you feel great, adds muscle tone and reduces insulin/prevents diabetes BUT is it enough to allow you to eat as much as you want? No! After going raw I never went back to wheat, dairy or sugar and will never eat them again, it's been 5 years and I don't miss them and feel SO much better for it.  My recent and hopefully final weight loss came from joining weight watchers.  It really works and you can adjust it to fit your needs and preferences, it's all about moderation.  I drink wine every night, usually 8-12 ounces.  To help moderate my intake I invented a Moderation Wine Glass!  This tool has been my MVT (most valuable tool) throughout the process.  Life is WAY to short to avoid things as wonderful and good for you as wine, moderation is the key.  Check out the glasses and most recent article from leading heart surgeon Dr. Gundry on my website: mr-picky.com.  Cheers and best of luck!!

Mrs Picky

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