Over 40s drinking – why non-alcoholic wine is your new best friend
What is Hangxiety?
If you’ve ever woken up after a night of drinking and felt a wave of dread or fear roll over you, then you might have experienced hangover anxiety, or as psychologists are now calling it, hangxiety.
Alcohol stimulates the production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a chemical in our brains that helps us relax. After a three or four drinks our brains also start to block Glutamate – the chemical responsible for anxiety. This is why drinking can give us a temporary feeling of calm.
But as the alcohol wears off our brains try to restore the chemical imbalance – producing more Glutamate and blocking GABA. In other words – instead of relaxed and calm, you’ll wake up tense and anxious.
This is particularly bad news for people who are already feeling anxious, so it’s worth noting that depression and anxiety have been liked with peri-menopause and menopause.
Why alcohol is responsible for sleep disturbance
Alcohol can really play havoc with your sleep. Yes a few glasses of wine might help you drift off – but drinking prevents us from sinking into deep REM sleep (the restorative part of the sleep cycle that we need to stay healthy).
Why is this more of an issue as we age? Well, the truth is that as we get older there are other factors that are already likely to be impacting our sleep (such as kids, work and stress).
The Sleep Foundation recommends a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night – so anything that prevents you from getting that is definitely not a friend.
Why alcohol can add weight gain
As we age our metabolism starts to slow down. For women, this is exacerbated further by peri menopause and menopause, because a fall in oestrogen makes it harder for our bodies to control blood sugar.
Unfortunately alcohol is full of empty calories. A large gin and tonic can be up to 170 calories; a bottle of beer can be as many as 150 and a glass of white wine can be 130 calories. So if you are susceptible to weight gain, these extra calories could be sabotaging your waistline.
How to cut back on alcohol
The good news is that all of these issues can be reduced by cutting down on booze. Here are a few ways that you can lower your alcohol intake.
- Set some drinking goals – it could be a couple of alcohol free days a week or a bigger challenge such as a week or month with no booze. Simply swap those days or months with alcohol-free alternatives
- Swap out your second, third and fourth drink of the night with the non-alcoholic equivalent (see some great low calorie alcoholic swaps below). Sipping on 1-2 alcohol-free G&T's will not only quench your thirst but slow down the amount of alcohol you consume during the evening.
- Shake up the way you socialise – lots of us like to catch up over a drink, which can be hard if you are trying to cut back. Try catching up with friends for breakfast or going for a walk and talk. Or even better, get a group of friends over for a BBQ and enjoy some non-alcoholic beers.
Top 3 low calorie alcohol-free alternatives
There is such an amazing range available that there is something for everyone. And the really good news is that many of them are low in sugar, calories and have added health benefits.
2. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
3. Craft Beer