Getting through dry January and beyond
REASONS TO GO DRY
Many people go dry in January and there are health good reasons for this. Research has shown that you get: Better quality sleep; Improved mood; Enhanced concentration; Increased energy; Improved complexion; Slimmer waistline; and Healthier digestion.
In general, none or limited alcohol consumption improves your overall health in the short term and longer term it reduces your risk of cancer, liver and heart disease. Though we all know this, it can still be challenging for some of us to cut down and deal with the sugar cravings. See the tips below to help you go beyond dry January and maintain your good new habit.
TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
Keep track of your units and measures
UK guidelines suggest drinking no more than 14 units per week and recommend that these should be spread over the week not consumed in one sitting. That’s about six glasses of wine or beer. Use a measuring cup to measure out your alcohol so you know what you are having. For further information on units have a look at the Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app to track your drinking over time.
Allocate your alcohol and alcohol-free days
By deciding which days of the week you will and won’t have an alcoholic drink can help you stick to your plan.
There are lots of non- alcoholic wines, gins and cocktail mixes popping up these days. Have a look in the supermarket and try out some over the next few weeks or months.
Google mocktail recipes and try out a different one each week as a fun Friday or Saturday night activity.
Start drinking sparkling water flavoured with fruit juice, cordials, sliced fruit or berries and herbs like mint and lemon balm leaves and sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
Distract yourself with other activities
There are lots of things you can do instead of drinking: read; listen to music or a podcast; watch a movie; do some exercise; dance; call a friend; cook; have a luxurious bath; do a craft or hobby activity; do a puzzle etc.
Manage your sugar cravings
Reducing or giving up alcohol can increase your sugar cravings. This is because when drinking alcohol your body converts it to sugar so less alcohol leads to lower blood sugar levels and cravings whilst your body gets used to it. So now you may not be having alcohol but the health benefits will be reduced if you are eating more sugary snacks like cakes, biscuits, and sweets instead. Like alcohol, sugar increases dopamine and serotonin in the brain which can initially improve mood but longer excess consumption can have the opposite effect. Here’s how to manage your cravings:
Try to wait it out - when your craving hits, allow a bit of time to wait it out and see if it subsides. Drink a glass of water or have a cup of tea to fill you up and do something to distract you. See ideas above.
Find healthy sweet treat recipes - there are lots of natural sweet treat recipes around with natural sweeteners like banana, apples, dates, cinnamon, maple syrup, honey and agave. Some lovely recipes can be found at the earth diet and Kris Carr dessert.
OTHER THERAPIES TO CONSIDER
Find a qualified therapist here to help you develop new habits.
Homeopathy and Flower essences
These therapies can also help you develop new habits and support you emotionally. Find therapists here and here. See my colleagues at Ilkley Complementary Therapies here and here.
Herbs, including food can be used help your body adapt to reduced alcohol and sugar and manage health related issues. Book a phone or video appointment with me or find an herbalist in your area here.
This can help reduce stress and anxiety, alcohol cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping or reducing alcohol. See my colleague here or in other UK areas here.
I can offer Swedish massage which can also be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety.
Over to you
If you want keep up your good January habits or start them, make a plan using the tips and strategies listed above and / or book a therapy session to suite your needs.
Enjoy a mocktail tonight.