I Had a Drinking Problem

I used to have a drinking problem.

I drank my calories. All. Day. Long.

If I had to make a list of the top three things that contributed to me gaining over 100 pounds it would be in this order:

  1. No Activity.
  2. Drinking My Calories.
  3. No Portion Control.

I’m going to describe a typical day of drinking in the old days. I’d wake up and I always had a big glass of orange juice with my breakfast (plus milk on my cereal).

I wasn’t having just a single serving either. I poured it into a big pint glass, which is probably two servings. Calories: 250.

I also drank a lot of the Lipton’s Sweetened Iced Tea. Like a lot. Maybe 3 a day? They were so sweet, I loved them. I sucked them down like they were water. 16 ounces was 140 calories x 3 = 420 calories.

I liked to get coffee in the morning on my way to work. But I wasn’t a huge fan of coffee itself so I loaded it with sugar. My favorite was a grande white chocolate mocha with caramel syrup and whipped cream.  Calories: 500 or so.

I drank a lot of soda too. On weekends I could drink  four a day. I usually had a soda with dinner. Dr. Pepper and Sprite were my favorites.

A can of Dr. Pepper is about 150 calories. Say I drank three in a day (sometimes one right after another). Calories: 450.

If was going out to a bar with friends, my drink of choice varied but it was often a strawberry daiquiri (with whipped cream of course) or a White Russian. Calories: 300.

And of course when you are at a bar with your friends, eating fried food and feeling good, you don’t just have one drink. Maybe two or three? Estimate that evening at over 1,000 calories just for the liquids. Have you noticed that I’m not drinking any water??

Another favorite was the Vitamin Water. Not real water, but sugar water. My favorite flavor was the dragonfruit. Calories: 150.

I haven’t even gotten to my snacking habits. I ate a lot of candy bars. Butterfingers and 5th Avenue bars were my absolute favorite. And you can’t enjoy chocolate without a big glass of cold milk. They went hand in hand for me.

I’d estimate the milk to be about 200 calories a glass.

That’s a lot of drinking! The above calories total 2, 270! No wonder I was developing diabetes! That’s more calories than what I currently EAT nowadays.

Boy have things changed. I started making small changes in the beginning. When I started counting my calories to stay under 2,000 a day I was shocked at how fast it added up when I drank my calories. I put an end to that.

  • I stopped drinking juice. Completely.
  • I switched to diet soda.
  • No more high calorie alcohol drinks.
  • No more coffee/candy drinks!

The changes I made worked. I saw a difference. I FELT a difference. I lost the weight!

How am I different now? I try to avoid any liquid that has calories. I prefer sparkling water or regular water. I drink unsweetened ice tea. Once in awhile I drink diet soda but not very often because I don’t like how it feels. The only time I ever drink juice now is when I am sick. I drink plain old black coffee with a little bit of creamer in it.

I do drink things with calories in them. I have a glass of milk with dessert on occasion but it’s not an every day thing. I drink wine. I drink beer. Again, in moderation and not everyday. Writing down all the calories I consumed in liquid form is pretty shocking to me. It’s hard to believe I did that for so long.

QUESTION: How many calories a day to you consume in drinks?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

24 thoughts on “I Had a Drinking Problem”

  1. Wow that really is eye opening to see how many calories a day you were drinking!! I’ve always been pretty conscious about not drinking my calories, and like you, I drink water, unsweetened iced tea, and seltzer normally. I used to ahve vodka cranberries out at bars, but now I have vodka sodas and I like them better! If I feel sick to my stomach, sometimes I’ll drink regular coke or ginger ale, but i rarely drink soda, and if i do, it’s diet.

  2. I’m not a calorie drinker-my biggest vice is a lot of creamer in my coffee. And because I love the creamer I use the scary sugar free chemical stuff. (Cause I’ve measured and with real cream? Yikes. It’s too many calories. Creamer is my one processed food vice). I drink seltzer water (Talking Rain!). I used to drink Diet Coke, but I don’t like the caffeine addiction it brings with it.
    In college I have many memories of buying diet cranberry juice as a mixer. A study came out while I was in undergrad about how using diet beverages as a mixer got you drunk faster. We, being smart young people, thought is made our mixer of choice even more awesome. Not only were our drinks low cal, we could drink fewer to get drunk! Win win!
    kalin recently posted..Marriage is Awesome and you go to the Beach.

    1. I had no idea that diet juice made you drunker faster. Too funny!

      I’m with you on the coffee creamer. I use it too because I am so not a black coffee drinker. I have 1 cup of coffee Monday-Friday and I put coffee creamer in it. I figure it’s okay. Coffee itself isn’t high in calories, just the stuff you add to it….But my 60 calorie coffee drink that I enjoy now is a far cry from the 800 calories coffee drinks I USED to have!

  3. I’ve never been one to drink my calories, though I do like juice and lemonade. I was addicted to Diet Coke and it was unhealthy. It made me feel bloated and, I’m sure, made me snack more (as research has shown). I never drink juice now unless I’m sick, as you said, but I do have Diet Coke now and then. I miss the taste and the bubbles, but not the bloated feeling. So I need to stay away from it! Usually I drink water and unsweetened iced tea too.

    1. That’s great that you never really fell into that trap. I also see that when I drink diet soda I crave junk food. I suddenly want chocolate or chips. It’s weird!

      I LOVE that I switched to sparkling water. I feel sooo much better when I drink it.

  4. It’s pretty common to be ignorant about how many calories are in drinks. This reminds me of those new billboards that have a photo of a soda and say, “You just drank 16 packs of sugar!”
    I drink espresso from home in the morning with plain organic soymilk, so about 40-60 calories. If I have smoothies, they’re usually in place of a meal. And I drink beer/wine no more than once per week.
    Eleah recently posted..Bad Blogger

    1. I’ve seen those billboards on the bus! It’s nuts! I wish I had seen those ads about sugar and soda back then. I think that would have shocked me into making changes. I cannot believe how much sugar is in everything.

  5. WOW! What a great post! Isn’t it funny how little by little our habits can get out of hand? And yes, I DID notice you weren’t drinking water (uh – I know from experience) – and for me, the “thirst” signal is STILL so elusive… I don’t really get thirsty (I don’t think), but I get cranky, down, crave sweets, lethargic and I think those are all sideways thirst signals for me. I’m not a big calorie counter, because it can be kinda depressing (I’m having a love affair with almonds right now), but it is eye opening – even if very frightening! Thanks for sharing Lisa!
    Kris @Krazy_Kris recently posted..For Me, Creating a Healthy Lifestyle is ALL About Small Changes

    1. You make an amazing point, Kris–even NOW I struggle with listening to my “thirst signals.” I OFTEN confuse them for hunger pains when in reality I’m just really thirsty. I am trying to be better about drinking water and going to water before food.

  6. I pretty much stopped drinking soda at 19. Instead, I drank a lot of water, sometimes juice, sweetened iced tea and the occasional chai tea latte. I didn’t drink much skim milk (now I have it in smoothies or with cereal). I wasn’t trying to be healthy, I was just cheap. Juice is pricey. So is alcohol. I did drink alcohol, but not much out of concern for my wallet, trying to be responsible (I often had to drive).

    Not drinking my calories and getting plenty of water were probably the easiest part of losing weight for me.

    On long or hard run days, I have Gatorade on the run and chocolate milk post-run. I’ve also developed a Diet Coke habit, but that’s maybe 2xs a week. I prefer the tiny 8 oz cans. I’m not a daily coffee drinker. I usually drink about half a cup, but I do add sugar and creamer. I can’t drink it otherwise. As for alcohol, I have beer or wine a few time a month.
    cindylu recently posted..Will run 18 miles for bacon, birria and beer

    1. Glad you brought up Gatorade. That’s another “iffy” one for me. I try not to drink it unless I’m hiking/biking/running. It’s an easy go-to drink during the summer so I have to remind myself to limit that.

  7. WOW! That really puts things into perspective! That is a lot of liquid calories. That is where a food journal has been so helpful for me in losing weight. Sometimes we just pop things into our mouths without giving it a second thought. Calories add up quickly!!

    Dr Pepper was my all time favorite! I miss him sometimes! 🙂
    Jill recently posted..I was Lost

    1. I do have some Diet Dr. Pepper once in awhile. 😉

      I am totally for food journals/calorie trackers/apps etc. It makes a HUGE difference. Often when I try to calculate/estimate in my head I under calculate. Plus, those little extra bites and nibbles add up fast too.

  8. Have you seen the NYC Department of Health “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat” ad campaign. It’s so graphic that I immediately stopped drinking soda. I occasionally have a ginger ale when I have a stomach ache or want something carbonated but that’s rare. It’s scary to think about how much sugar there is in beverages!

    Carly D. @ CarlyBananas recently posted..The Weirdest Pre-Race Dream Ever – Featuring Lil Wayne

  9. I used to drink white russians too, THEY’RE SO GOOD!!!
    But yeah, liquid calories go down quick!
    I think in the summer I consume more liquid calories than in the winter because I go through bottle of Gatorade through the course of the day. I do that though to try & get my electrolytes that I need to be an athlete in the summer.
    Of all those drinks to kick, soda was the best to go!

    1. My doctor recommended I drink Gatorade last summer. I was having dizzy spells pretty badly and I was worried that running outside during the summer I’d collapse somewhere. She said my electrolytes were probably off. So I think drinking my calories is okay in the summer–like you said. Athletes need that stuff IF they are burning the calories!

  10. I never liked juice or milk, but I was definitely addicted to diet soda and fizzy water (like seltzer, but with artificial sweetener). I gave it all up for just water or unsweetened tea – even if there are no calories, I decided I didn’t need the chemicals!
    Mary recently posted..BTH: Week Nine

  11. Yeah, isn’t is amazing how you can drink calories without really thinking about it. That is why I don’t drink much but water. I add the crystal light packets to change up the water. I have told many people who want to buy me a flavored coffee or slushie, etc that I don’t want it b/c I would rather Eat my calories than drink them.

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