Should I drink less? Dry January anyone?

Should I give up alcohol?

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Some of you may be trying a dry January already and if so good luck to you. This weeks’ tweak is all about alcohol.

Now I promise you that I’m not being “holier than thou” when I say this, but my relationship with alcohol ended 6 years ago. It did not end because I had a particular drink problem – although I did like (no love) a drink or a few! It ended as I battled to bring my Ulcerative Colitis under control and I had known for some time, deep down, that alcohol was a major trigger for my condition. It was very difficult for me to let it go, but when you get to a certain level of suffering, it can strengthen your resolve to make difficult changes.

A lot of the difficulty arose because I had built my social life around it. Working in London, often unsociable hours and with few hobbies -other than solitary ones; running and the gym- alcohol was an avenue in which to meet up with friends and socialize. In fact, so ingrained in our culture is it that on announcing that I had quit the booze one friend said to me “But, I don’t want to lose you as a friend”! That statement saddened me, but I’d already made up my mind. I’d got to the stage in my early 30s when for every hour of drinking, I’d spend 2,3 even 4 hours hung-over. And God forbid I should go out 2 nights in a row – that would practically wipe me out for half the following week!

So, in May 2011 I finally quit booze. Since then I did drink at my wedding (June 2012) and have had the odd glass at Christmas, but essentially nothing in nearly 6 years. At first it was very challenging. Going out to pubs and bars where everyone is drinking and you’re not is one of the most tedious things to do as a brand new teetotaler. It does however get easier and I found that arriving later, when everyone else is too far gone to ask you why you aren’t drinking, worked well. I also found that I was able to dance without booze, but in my head at least I certainly wasn’t as good! That said, my nights out were never quite the same again. It was most definitely a blessing that at this time I was settling into a new family life and trying to forge a new career; the free time that I’d had as a bachelor rapidly disappeared!

What did I notice with my new no booze regime? Quite a few things really. Gone were the hangovers (obviously). But, I also slept loads better. Was far less inclined to melancholy and low mood. I was and still am a lot more productive. My skin looked healthier. I didn’t have to exercise so much to keep my weight down. I had loads more energy – although a couple of young babies has since put paid to that!!!

So finally onto this weeks’ tweak. Take a booze break. It doesn’t have to be a whole month or a whole year. Just allocate a day or days during your week in which you would normally drink and go without on these days. If you are out socializing try to replace your alcoholic drinks, not with sugary soft drinks but with water or tonic water with a bit of lemon or lime – that way you’ll get the added benefit of fewer liquid calories. Most bars these days will serve you coffee late too, which is a must if you’re trying to keep up with your booze addled friends into the small hours – although it may disrupt your sleep!

Alcohol and calories

In the longer term, if you are serious about losing weight, then reduction or avoidance of alcohol is very important. Here are some interesting statistics:

In 2015 average annual alcohol consumption per head in Ireland was the equivalent of 445 pints beer or 116 bottles wine or 41 litres vodka. WOW! Lets look at that in terms of calories:

how many calories does alcohol contain?

That means that the average Irish person is getting more than a months’ worth of calories each year in alcohol alone! The table above also demonstrates what that could mean in terms of weight gain.

Now, I don’t want this blog to be a “you must do this or that” type of blog and I don’t want to be a killjoy. But, this information is worth knowing, because before I looked at it I hadn’t a clue just how calorific alcohol was.



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