Some joke that wine is “cheaper than therapy.”
If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve probably seen someone refer to “mommy juice” on social media. “Mommy juice” is that filled-to-the-brim glass of wine you have after the kids go to bed, either by yourself with your feet up on the couch, or with your other mom friends.
Despite its cute and babyish name, the health risks of this new trend are anything but innocent. The recent uptick in heavy wine consumption among women, especially moms, has health experts concerned.
How Much Wine Is Too Much?
It’s true that wine is OK in moderation. Doctors even know that a small amount of alcohol can actually raise the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. However, any health effects of alcohol on the heart start to backfire if you start drinking too much. (Learn more about how alcohol affects heart health here.)
“Moderate” drinking is defined as just a single drink a day for women. When it comes to wine, that means five ounces, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. To minimize your risk of developing alcohol use disorder, NIAAA recommends having no more than three drinks on any single day, and no more than seven a week.
If you pride yourself on only drinking one glass a night, you may want to re-assess: A wine glass can hold much more than five ounces, especially if you have a jumbo-sized glass. If you’re filling your glass to the brim, your “single glass of wine” might actually count as two or three glasses, and you might be sipping much more than you realize.
The Health Risks of Excessive Wine Drinking
Excessive drinking impairs more than just your speech, coordination, and cognition. What has health experts worried is the potential long-term health effects that can build up as you imbibe freely on rosé night after night.
For women, experts warn that heavy drinking on the regular could increase their risk of:
Unwanted weight gain (find out how many calories are in a glass of wine here)
Cognitive changes, like memory loss and brain shrinkage
Pregnancy problems, like miscarriage, premature delivery, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Pancreatitis, or dangerous inflammation of the pancreas
A weakened immune system, which increases the risk of infectious diseases
Disruptions to the menstrual cycle, which could lead to fertility problems
And cancer, including breast cancer, head and neck cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer.
Another health problem that “mommy juice” may impose on women is the risk of dependence and even alcohol use disorder. Many moms (as well as childfree women) refer to their evening wine as a stress reliever, and some joke that it’s “cheaper than therapy.” Besides the fact that this is inaccurate when you factor in health expenses down the road, it’s also a dangerous mentality.
Alcohol can definitely calm the nerves in the moment, but research shows it can make mental health worse later on. Ever notice how you feel more irritable and anxious the morning after a night of heavy drinking? (Here are more health effects caused by a night of binge drinking.)
Furthermore, drinking regularly to soothe stress can lead to dependence, in which you’ll need more and more glasses to get the effect you’re thirsting for. This can leave you more stressed in the long run as you deal with the expense of alcohol, the frequent hangovers, and the constant urge for another glass.
If you love wine, stick to one glass—or no more than seven a week. When it comes to stress, look for healthier ways to take the edge off. For example, here are 5 stress relievers to try (besides meditation).
Alcohol’s effects on the body. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (Accessed on July 11, 2019 at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-body.)
Excessive alcohol use and risks to women’s health. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on July 11, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/womens-health.htm.)
Drinking levels defined. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (Accessed on July 11, 2019 at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking.)
The link between stress and alcohol. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (Accessed on July 11, 2019 at https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA85/AA85.htm.)
What is a standard drink? Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (Accessed on July 11, 2019 at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink.)