The holidays may be a time for a family, but with every get together there’s cookies, cakes, delicious foods. As they say, “if you don’t put on 10 pounds during the holiday season, you’re celebrating wrong.” It can leave you coming out the other side feeling sluggish and nobody wants to start the new year dealing with a little extra girth and fatigue. Which is why many celebrate Dry January.
It’s bigger in Europe but it’s growing in the United States. Recently, research has started to find a lot of health issues with drinking a lot. Binge drinking is particularly hard on the digestive system, skin and liver. Alcohol in general is proven to keep your brain from getting the proper rest it needs and impacts your digestive system. But what is binge drinking? At one point, it was known as a number of drinks in a short time. But now three drinks in a single day or seven in a week is binge drinking for women. For men? Four drinks per day and 14 drinks per week.
Dry January then is to abstain from alcohol or at least significantly reduce your intake. It gives your body a chance to process all of the bad and unhealthy foods from the holidays. When coupled with better eating and more activity, dry January can help reverse many of the digestive issues you may experience. You may also sleep better (activity and lack of alcohol will influence this) and overall feel better. But going dry isn’t easy. Here are some tips to help you through your dry spell:
- See how much and when you drink: You need to have an accurate picture of your intake to tackle it. Are you more of a social drinker? Someone into his daily nightcap? Do you drink when you’re stressed or to celebrate? When you do drink, do you have just one or a couple? Knowing your patterns allows you to avoid those triggers and replace your coping method with something healthier.
- Change how you go out: if you’re a social drinker, maybe going out for drinks isn’t that great during Dry January. But go one step further. Brunch and dinner are also popular for drinking. Can you ask your friend or whomever you’re meeting to get coffee instead or get lunch? Steering clear of a situation where there’s likely to be alcohol can help tremendously.
- Choose alternatives and mock-tails: Maybe you can’t avoid the bar or dinner. Or you just like the feel of a drink. I get you. Just choose a non-alcoholic version! You can still make fun and tasty drinks without the alcohol and for the more stressed crowd, mixing your own drink can be a great stress reliever. Skip the alcohol, dial up the fun and try it out.
- Do it with a friend: nothing makes a goal more attainable than teamwork. Tell a friend you’re abstaining from alcohol and ask them to join you. On the days, you really want a drink you can hang out and push through together. Friends also make mock-tails and lunch more fun. Even if they won’t join you, having your friends know about your goal can make them more considerate about where they ask to meet you.
- Hide your alcohol: If you drink at home, it’s harder to fight. It’s cheap, easy and accessible but if you’re going to commit, commit! You can start slow: instead of a daily nightcap, stretch out how many days you go without a drink. Feel free to reward yourself, for every drink you didn’t imbibe, maybe you put away five dollars into a vacation fund.
Dry January isn’t supposed to be a drag! By the end of it, you should feel healthier and ready for 2018. You will feel more in control and it can be a great way to reinforce friendships and find things to do together.