Weight + Building a Healthy Body Image
As we begin to heal our bodies from past alcohol use and focus on a more global wellness, we may begin to take a look at our weight and body image. While we know that obesity has many negative consequences, we also know that substance use disorder and many eating disorders frequently co-occur together. If you know that body image and weight are triggering topics for you, please feel welcome to forgo this reading today.
Weight in Alcohol-Free Living
A common misconception in the alcohol-free or sober curious community is that as soon as you remove alcohol use, you will begin to lose excess weight. While this is true for some, it is not a universal side effect of quitting the booze. As we noted when we discussed sugar, a sweet tooth is just as common as weight loss—you may have found that your weight has stayed the same or even increased post-quitting alcohol. This is a perfectly normal experience, and we are given an invitation to practice non-judgement and self-care for ourselves if this happens.
Some folks do begin to lose weight, as they intake fewer calories without alcohol. (Both from the alcohol itself, and any snacks we might be prone to eating while intoxicated. Just me?) If you’re drinking 500 calories of wine a day, and suddenly you are no longer consuming those 500 extra calories, it’s likely you will notice a change.
When we consider weight, we are most concerned with the negative health effects of obesity. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is diagnosed at a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher. Risks of obesity include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, among other issues. Obesity also has an impact on self-esteem and self-worth for some. That said, numbers on a scale are not always a clear indication of health and wellness—if this is something you are concerned about, consult with a health professional like your general practitioner.
There are many things we can do to maintain a healthy body weight, especially when we focus on a well-rounded, healthy diet, and exercise. So many of the building blocks of alcohol-free living also benefit our physical health, including our weight. Movement, good sleep, reducing our stress, no longer drinking alcohol; all of these components help us build a healthy body.