Millions of people join this annual movement to abstain from alcohol for a month; it is a registered trademark for the charity Alcohol Concern, who have previously partnered up with Public Health England.
- Lose weight
- Sleep better
- Save money
- Get healthier
- Feel happier
Some controversy does surround the efficacy of the practice, although 2014 results did prove a positive correlation with 72% of patients ‘keeping harmful drinking episodes down’, and 4% of those still abstaining from complete alcohol use (BBC, 2015) . It can really make you question your relationship with alcohol; why do you drink it? Is it impacting your life at all? Does it affect your relationships?
A unit of alcohol is usually between 10ml to 80ml of pure alcohol; this is the amount an adult’s liver can process in one hour. To keep alcohol intake to a sensible level, in order to not harm health and wellbeing, it is advised not to drink more than 14 units in one week. The key is to try and ease yourself away from habitual drinking, and replace this (if required) with further coping mechanisms (Welch, K. 2017) .
The benefits of abstaining from alcohol are significant, in the sense of financial savings, social behaviour and lethargic feeling (Burke, T. 1998) . When out for a meal, for example, the price of a bottle of wine will substantially increase the bill cost – sometimes by almost double! Further to this, you are then unable to drive and would require the further cost of public transport or a taxi to safely get yourself home. All in all, it is an expensive addition to your dining experience. Avoiding the alcohol can escape the prospect of a heavy head and lethargy the next morning; something which can really take the spark out of your day. There’s also a reduction in the possibility of having to apologise for any potentially inappropriate behaviour!
Some particular events and social influences can be the reason a percentage of us drink more than is recommended, especially as it is well-documented some individuals consistently under-report drinking quantities (Mozaffarian, 2011) .
Social conditioning cues can make us want alcohol; but these can still be responded to more healthily through the use of alcohol-free products (Marczinski and Fillmore, 2005) . Market forces are starting to guide the creation of more sophisticated and attractive alcohol-free, luxury drinks to replace alcoholic ones. Ranging from champagne-like sparkling dry wines, red and rose wines and a wide range of artisan craft beers, these products can be used in place of alcohol when the cravings are created by the social situations. Furthermore, to create a more realistic setting, using champagne/wine glasses, ice buckets and elegant drinking accessories can help to create a placebo effect, but not to the point of impairing one’s judgement or affecting the ability to drive.
Used in safe quantities, alcohol can be a pleasant treat to indulge in, but it shouldn’t be abused and used on such a regular and frequent basis as seems to be the trend now. Replacement with alcohol-free substitute products is achievable and should be considered to positively impact overall wellbeing.
FMT Nutritional Therapist
Nutritionist BSc Hons ANutr.
- BBC – ‘Dry January’ linked to drinking less in long term. (2015). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30038307.
- Welch, K. Alcohol Consumption and brain health. BMJ. 2017; 357. J2645.
- Burke, TR. The economic impact of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. PMC. 1998.
- In a personal communication with a Slimming World Consultant, January 2018: Some slimming group advisors have remarked that the big challenge to their weight loss groups is not so much the food choices the members are making, it is the binge drinking at weekends that threatens successful weight loss and healthy choices.
- Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-404
- Marczinski CA, Fillmore MT. Alcohol increases reliance on cues that signal acts of control. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005;13:15–24.