How to Cut Back on Alcohol Without Going Cold Turkey

by | Jan 9, 2017

After a move from Chicago to California, Mary found herself slowly gaining weight to the tune of 1 pound every 3 months. After awhile she was dismayed to find she was up 15 lbs, and wanted to find the reason.

She tried several things to cut back a bit on calories without any luck. Her last resort was her evening routine of drinking several glasses of wine, a habit that’s proving more difficult to break than any of the others.

This worries Mary for a few reasons. Obviously she wants to lose the weight and feel back in control of her healthstyle. But we all know alcohol is an addictive substance, so part of her fear is that this may be related to why she hasn’t been able to cut back.

Alcohol is a difficult habit to work with, and as a wine lover myself I can definitely relate. Mary had done a few experiments and is fairly confident she isn’t dependent on the substance. Together we come up with some strategies for her to cut back enough to feel more in control and potentially lose the weight.

Wish you had more time to listen to the podcast? I use an app called Overcast (no affiliation) to play back my favorite podcasts at faster speeds, dynamically shortening silences in talk shows so it doesn’t sound weird. It’s pretty rad.

Related links:

What to Do When Willpower Isn’t Enough (The Power of One)

How to Burn More Calories Without Breaking a Sweat



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6 Responses to “How to Cut Back on Alcohol Without Going Cold Turkey”

  1. I suppose that like a lot of us I started partying in grade school with my friends. I love the communal aspect of rolling a bone and having a few drinks with good friends and it really pisses me off that I allowed things to get as out of control as they are. Oh well I have no one to blame but myself.

  2. I have 2 ideas for Mary:

    I know she said her physician did blood work on her and she was “fine, good, healthy”. I am wondering if they did an hgbA1C test, too. Her fasting sugar may have been in the “normal” zone, but she may actually have prediabetes if she is 15 lbs overweight and is drinking alcohol (sugar). If she gets that diagnosis, she may have the compelling reason to stop. She wants to be healthy for herself and her family.

    My other suggestion is: she said she tried drinking tea in the evening instead of wine and it did not do the same thing for her. Wondering if she tried rooibos or chamomile teas? Rooibos is definitely a relaxing tea and neither have caffeine.

  3. Maria Race says:

    Thanks so much for addressing this issue without judgement. It was very informative for me.

  4. Gustavo Woltmann says:

    The post is really informative. Keep up the good work. Thank you!

    – gustavo woltmann

  5. Stephanie says:

    I just wanted to comment on something that popped into my head when I was listening to the episode.It sounds like Mary (like myself and a number of us) is also not drinking the wine mindfully. With water it doesn’t necessarily matter if you are drinking it mindfully, but for something like wine and particularly because of her love for it (but also because of her conflicted feelings towards wanting to lose the 15lbs but not wanting to give up something she loves) – it may help her satiety if she tries out drinking it the way she mentioned her husband drinks wine. He savors it – concentrating on the smell, the look of it, the taste. It struck me like a lightning bolt during this podcast that the concept of mindfulness can not only be applied to meals but also beverages.

  6. Cassie T says:

    What an amazing episode! My husband and I really enjoy drinking (the taste, the buzz, the association with relaxation and socializing…) and, like Mary, since we experience very few negative side effects from it it can be difficult to cut back. I’m so so glad this was addressed on the show. As always, I love your problem solving, experimental approach!

    Something that’s worked for me:
    I’ve noticed that the days I’ll reach for a beer when I get home, sometimes all I actually want is something fizzy. I started keeping a few cans of carbonated water in the fridge – it gives me the option to have something bubbly that’s not soda or beer. Then, once I’m finished drinking it if I’m still in the mood for a beer, I’ll have one!

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