My Red “Whine”

red-wineI get headaches from drinking red wine. Apparently, I am not alone in this conundrum. It seems every time I talk about this, people can relate, or at least know of someone with the affliction. It is a sad thing to deny oneself a drink that may boost heart health, improve cholesterol, fight weight gain and improve memory. They should add this to Canada’s Food Guide; it’s a bona fide superfood… in moderation of course.

Even though “leftover wine” seems to be an oxymoron in our house, it is not from over indulgence, well, not usually. A headache can occur after drinking only one glass. I have to say, however, that it is not all red wines that give me this unpleasant experience, so I keep trying.

Often things usually start quite innocently with an offer of red wine to which I respond, “Sorry, I can’t drink red wine. I get headaches.”

Hosts usually look at me with a mix of puzzled amazement or sadness as if I had just drowned their puppy.

“Oh come on, have just one,” the host pleads, “It can’t be that bad,” thrusting a glass of the red elixir my way.

Or, it might go something like, “Oh, I don’t have anything else to give you. Are you sure?”

Not wanting to offend anyone, I usually cave with a “Well okay, but just one.” Then, I must live with the consequences.

There are a few theories milling about on what causes red wine headaches. The most popular of which is said to be Sulphites (SO2). SO2 is a key ingredient that occurs naturally in all wines giving them antioxidant and antibacterial powers used to preserve its freshness. While it is true that people can be allergic sulphites, I would say that it is probably not the cause of your headache. If it were the culprit, people would react much more violently to a number of foods, including baked goods, deli meats and bacon, because these types of foods contain sulphites at a much higher rate then that of wine. In fact, many wines end up having 0 ppm because sulphates deteriorate over time. Suffice it to say that I am incredibly grateful I don’t get bacon headaches.

Many also blame the release histamines that create allergy-type symptoms. Problem is most allergy-type symptoms like itching, sneezing, hives, runny nose and watery eyes are never present. If your nose runs after drinking red wine, I would suggest you have a different issue.

There is another theory that many people cannot metabolise prostaglandin, which may cause headaches. The definition of prostaglandin is way too long to discuss in this article. Suffice it to say that the solution may be as easy as taking prostaglandin inhibitors like Asprin or Ibuprophin less than an hour before drinking red wine. (This is probably not the wisest advice as extended use can lead to unwanted adverse reactions. I am not a doctor, so please consult yours first.)

Researchers say that the problem could originate with the yeast or other bacteria found in red wine. Researchers also admit that they don’t really know the cause. But, one thing’s for sure: odds are if you indulge in a night of excess and wake up with a headache you have a hangover — Another self-induced alcohol-driven malady that people have been trying to cure for centuries.

Red wine headaches are not a very popular research cause. Understandably, the wine industry is not interested in throwing money at something that could throw shade on their livelihood. There is no Run for the Cure race or ice-bucket challenge to raise awareness and funding. True, it is not as popular as… let’s say… research for Viagra, but rest assured, even though they are a small group and they may not yet have the answers, there are people out there dedicated to finding a solution.

Although the verdict seems to be still out on what officially is the root cause of red wine headaches, I am sure that denying myself the drink of the Gods is not the only answer. Hopefully, someday I won’t have to say those dreaded words, “Sorry, I don’t drink red wine.” Until that day, I will stick to mostly white wines and keep on trying the occasional red — you never know, maybe one day, I’ll grow out of it — just a theory I have.

To your health!


“Talking ’bout a Revolution”


I am going to lose weight and get in better shape. I say this now, and now happens to be within the first week of January, so you’re probably guessing that I have made a resolution. Well, I haven’t; this is purely a coincidence.

As for resolutions, I don’t believe in them, because in my experience, they never work. They also have, what seems to be, unwritten rules attached to them. Like when you make a resolution, you must share it with others, because how can keeping a resolution to yourself be any fun, or real. Much like the conundrum, “If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it, did it really fall?” Personally, I think it did. We have fossil fuel as proof, but I digress. Still, the naysayers will ask, “Where’s the proof of my unannounced resolution?”

Also, when a resolution goes by the wayside, unfulfilled, you must feel a considerable amount of guilt, akin to the amount of guilt bestowed on Catholics by virtue of their breathing. Immediately after failing to keep a resolution, guilt starts to feel oppressive. Excuses get thrown about like all the losing 50-50 ticket stubs strewn throughout the bleachers of any baseball park. You take on an “I don’t care” attitude that only reinforces the idea that you really needed to succeed.

So all that said, I give you my “New Year’s Revolution.” You don’t like it? You think it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I disagree. I have never in my life started a revolution. I think this might be a game changer. I will be in the same ranks as Spartacus, Mahatma Ghandi, and Malala Yousafzai. Okay, maybe not exactly. I won’t be changing the world, or even my block for that matter, but I will be changing me.

This is going to be my personal revolution. My personal revolution against all the bad self-talk, the negative outlook, and all the reasons I have ever given as to why I can’t succeed at attaining my goal. It is where I will say, “Yes!” Yes to moderation, yes to healthy eating, yes to exercise, and yes to me!

The Oxford dictionary gives many definitions of the word revolution. The one I believe is most fitting is, “Alteration, change; upheaval; reversal of fortune.” If all that is true, bring it on. I cannot say it better than Tracy Chapman, when she says, “‘Cause finally the tables are starting to turn, talking ’bout a revolution.” I am so ready for this revolution.

Smoke and Mirrors

In all my excitement to talk about my new foray into running and blogging, I forgot to mention something else I had quit doing… Smoking. Yup, I took the plunge. It wasn’t easy; and I must admit I had a bit of a panic attack the days leading up to my quit date. But, so far so good.

Seeing as this blog is all about getting better back, I thought this would be an appropriate subject to take on.

It has been well documented that nicotine, a naturally occurring stimulant, can suppress appetite.  So natural plus appetite curbing properties equals healthy. Right? That conclusion begs the question, however rhetorical – Is appetite suppression a healthy thing to partake in? I surmised that surely if cigarette companies could blatantly advertise that cigarettes could essentially improve body image by maintaining your weight, who was I to argue, and I needed all the help I could get.

Throughout my back story as a smoker, I had been often asked the question, why do you smoke? I have had numerous answers to this question including, but not limited to:

It relaxes me;

I enjoy smoking;

It’s a great stress reliever; and

If I stop now, I’ll gain weight and I really can’t afford to gain more.

That last one was as if smoking had a health benefit. No need to point out the obvious that I had gained weight while smoking. Of course I knew I had gained weight, but I did not think it was much until one day while in the mirror; I could not believe what I had seen. My weight had crept up on me so slowly that I hadn’t really noticed, until the day I couldn’t help but notice. I was at least 25 pounds overweight and thought, when the hell did that happen? Being only 5’1”, I knew I couldn’t really afford to gain too much before having to search for clothing in the big and short aisle. Not a pretty picture.

But, I still clung, albeit subconsciously, to the notion that cigarettes held a trace of a health benefit. In fact, coupled with a good dose of coffee in the morning, every smoker knows that they speed up the laxative properties of coffee. Surely they can’t be all that bad, I reasoned.

With all that, I still could not see that smoking was more detrimental to my health, and on a far greater scale, than gaining a few extra few pounds of weight ever would be. And I knew that I would be hard pressed to find a doctor that would back my skewed reasoning behind my not quitting.

I also knew that there were triggers to smoking. I think indulged in all of them. If I were to quit smoking, would I have quit coffee and alcohol as well? What the hell was I supposed to do after meals? I couldn’t be expected to quit eating too? No, quitting smoking was a way too difficult task, chock-full of wrenches adept at bringing any plan to a grinding halt and rendering me a full-on certifiable bitch.  So, I kept on inhaling those cigarettes.

Check back for part two to see how this journey is progressing…