This year has been a crazy and stressful hasn’t it? March was a little scary and anxiety-ridden, then it became disruptive and tiring. You may have found it challenging to maintain healthy eating habits and your exercise routine through it all. In addition, you may also be enjoying a few more cocktails or glasses of wine than usual. That’s okay.

However, stressful times requires more physical activity and self-care, not less. So if you find yourself struggling to get out of the house, away from your computer, off your couch…just make mini-committments. I guarantee you a short walk or a few exercises in home office will make you feel better. Even doing 15 jumping jacks, lunges across the room and back, 10-minutes on an exercise machine or a gentle stretching stretching session will make you feel better.

Nobody can be perfect, but with a little thought and planning, you can gain some control, modify your routine, and reduce your feelings of anxiety and stress in healthier ways.

Assessing Your Cocktail Habit

While we may have joked about the “quaran-tini” earlier this year, alcohol abuse is no joke. It’s fine to enjoy a nice cocktail or a bottle of wine with dinner once in a while, but if you are finding it to be a daily habit, read on. The current recommendation for safe alcohol consumption is no more than 1 drink per day for women, and no more than 2 for men. This could possibly become more restrictive in the upcoming 2020 Dietary Guidelines, as the committee recommended “no more than one alcoholic beverage a day” for both men and women. In any case, it’s a good idea to take a look at your overall alcohol consumption pattern. Have you been drinking more this year? Is it due to stress? Has it just become a mindless habit because you’re home more?

In addition to the health consequences of overconsumption of alcohol (it can increase blood pressure and is hard on your vessels, it’s related to the risk of some cancers, and it can cause serious, life-threatening liver damage), alcohol packs in the calories. In addition to the extra empty calories from the alcohol, having a couple of drinks may give you the munchies. All of these habits can lead to a few extra pounds.

Drinking Often Encourages More Snacking

While it is a good idea to eat when you drink something, you want to keep it mindful. When you feel like a snack – ask yourself “what do I really want?”. Be present, portion it onto a small plate or bowl, and enjoy it! Portioning it out is important, because some high calorie snacks aren’t going to be filling, so you may overeat.

If you set out a snack board for example, balance out the nutrition and calories with a variety of foods. You might choose cheese, meats, nuts or hummus provide protein, and add in a few whole grain crackers for fiber. But the calories in those foods add up quickly, so you want to add some less calorie dense foods that help fill you up. For volume, add in lots of fruits and veggies. Adding veggies like carrots, celery, cucumber slices or bell pepper strips will also add antioxidants to the board (here’s a snack board idea that the whole family can enjoy) and fill you up. This will help you control overall calories by limiting the higher calorie cheese and nuts. Apple slices, grapes, dried apricots or pear slices are nice additions to a snack board too. Be sure to use the right size too. If it’s just two of you, a smaller board will do.

How Big Are Your Wine and Cocktail Glasses?

One way to manage your alcohol intake is to drink from smaller glasses (same rule for food – smaller plates!). You may laugh, but I challenge you to go check out the glasses in your bar cabinet. Using a glass measuring cup, fill them with water, and pour that water into the measure, and see how much your glass holds.

More than you thought right? I’ll bet you guessed 8 ounces when it was 12. Or 12 ounces when it was 16. You may be surprised to find out that you have a wine glass (or other cocktail glass) that holds a lot more than you thought.

The visual below compares a 5 ounce pour into a smaller glass (top left) and a 12-ounce pour into a large glass. That large glass is over two servings of wine.

The bottom right photo shows the same large glass with a 5-ounce pour. “One serving” of wine is 5 ounces. One 12-ounce serving of beer or a mixed drink made with 1.5 ounces of alcohol is one serving. Filling your wine glass may actually be two to three servings.

Make a Mindful Switch

Sometimes behaviors just becomes habitual. You may mindlessly pour a glass of wine after work, or pour a second glass after dinner. To break the habit, sub in something else. Try strategies like switching to a flavored water or seltzer, or a refreshing club soda with a squeeze of lime. Pouring them into a pretty champagne flute or your favorite wine glass, makes it feel more special. You might realize that drinking the flavored water from the wine glass is just as satisfying as that second glass of wine. And, it’s calorie free, hydrates you, and will make you feel better in the long run.

If you find yourself using that evening wine or cocktail as a stress reducer, make a cup of herbal tea with honey instead, and sit and sip. Take a mind-break and some deep breaths. How do you feel?

Drop a comment if you’ve struggled with breaking your daily cocktail habit. Share your tips for breaking the cycle.