What five ounces of wine looks like in three different wine glasses.
No surprise here: I drink wine almost every day. Dinner without it almost seems incomplete. It always adds another dimension to a meal, and, let’s be honest, I love the way it relaxes me and tells me, You worked hard today. You earned this.
What I don’t love is that sometimes, the alcohol interferes with my sleep, so I feel sluggish the next day. In worse cases, I even have a headache. Ok, it’s a small hangover, really. In my mind, I never drink that much, at least by my 20-something standards. The sad truth, however, is that I’m no longer 20-something.
While I was in France, I read most of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book all about developing good habits called, Better Than Before. A paragraph in the book stuck with me. Calling moderation “a dangerous concept,” she writes:
“While the word ‘moderation’ implies reasonableness and restraint, it’s actually a relative term. Moderate in comparison to what? Two hundred years ago, Americans ate less than a fifth of the sugar that we eat today. So a ‘moderate’ amount of sugar by today’s standards could be considered excessive by historical standards.”
I like to think that moderation is basically my approach to life. I can eat a cupcake one day and not eat sweets for the rest of the week. But I realized, when it came to wine, I had lost track of what moderation looked like.
You see, when my husband and I sit down to dinner, we tend to pour ourselves tiny glasses of wine over and over again. The benefit is that we can give the wine a lot of space when we swirl it in the glass and we can see how it evolves as it sits in the open bottle. (I know, super geeky).
The problem with this method is that it’s easy for me to lose track of how much I drink. (Anyone who has cut up doughnuts into small pieces and then eaten who-knows-how-many understands this kind of danger.)
The US Dietary Guidelines say that one drink for women is considered moderate drinking. And they define one drink as five ounces of wine. I don’t know the alcohol level of the wine they used for this calculation, but still, it’s a place to start.
Soon after returning from France, I started measuring out five ounces of wine so I know what it looks like. (You can see five ounces of wine in three different glasses, above!) I now try to sip it slowly with dinner, holding on to those last few sips, until all of my food is gone.
Occasionally, if the wine is really good, I might cheat and have a little more. Unless the wine is exceptionally low alcohol (11% or less), I often regret my cheating the next day.
All of this is fine and good when it’s just the two of us, but what about more social situations? I’m going to try to stick to the five-ounce rule as much as I can. As long as I have an alarm clock in the form of a three-year-old, it’s worth it to me. When we have impromptu happy hours with our neighbors, I now give half the beer to my husband and use the other half to make a shandy so I can still have a half glass of wine at dinner. I’ll admit that the smaller pour of vino feels a little sad, but the lack of brain fog the next day makes my oh-so-tough sacrifice worth it.