The benefits of giving up alcohol for a month
How reducing how much you drink can help you in more ways than one.
Exercise Physiologist, Wellness Coach and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, Bell Silverthorne talks about the benefits of giving booze the boot.
After the celebration (read: indulgence) overload of holidays complete with festive grazing, and perhaps some less than ideal coping mechanisms (read; having multiple alcoholic beverages at the ready) to get through family events, return-to-work blues and school holidays, a few of us will ponder the virtues of going alcohol-free for a time. Whether it’s Febfast, Dry July or OcSober, there are many initiatives out there to encourage you to ditch booze or cut back. So does one month without alcohol actually do much for you?
Depending on your starting point, it certainly can! In our daily life, we get used to a certain way of being. We are stuck on autopilot without even questioning our habits or reasons for doing the things the way we do. So initiatives like this can be a great way to challenge your status quo. Sure, if you’re a very heavy drinker, it’s best to get some medical advice before you cut back, rather than go cold turkey and be in a world of hurt going through withdrawal hell and any other medical issues which could pop up. For those who aren’t quite as heavy drinkers, most of us will experience a few benefits of putting our drinks (and drinking habits) on ice for a month or more.
- Feeling healthier
- Sleeping better
- Being more productive
- Saving money
- Losing weight
- Have a sense of achievement at completing the challenge
- Realising you don’t need to rely on alcohol. Yes, you do have social skills without alcohol! And no, not having a drink in your hand doesn’t need to make you look like an idiot! Like any change, you’re just not used to it. It can feel weird before it feels normal.
- Trying different ways of catching up with mates. Sure, it’s easy to say “let’s catch up at the pub”, but what about broadening your horizons and doing something completely different? Spend the money you’d normally spend on a few drinks and Ubers and do something instead – axe throwing, ice skating, going to see a comedy show, whatever tickles your fancy!
If weight loss is your goal, alcohol should be avoided or at least limited as it slows down our metabolism and contains almost twice the total amount of calories present in carbohydrates.
In the long term, some people will continue to drink less than what they did before a challenge, which is a great reset switch. Given the national alcohol guidelines were recently revised and brought down, for long term health, stick to no more than ten drinks per week. The health messaging around alcohol has really changed that there is no “safe” amount of alcohol to drink (sorry to all the diehard “but red wine has antioxidants” fans out there).
Perhaps it’s a good time for all of us to consider our drinking habits. I for one would love more social activities to be centred on catching up rather than drinking and catching up. Who’s up for axe throwing?
NB: If you are looking for some help to get you started on cutting back on alcohol – head to https://www.hellosundaymorning.org/. Daybreak is a free app which is funded by the Department of Health.
Bell Silverthorne is an exercise physiologist, wellness coach and lifestyle medicine practitioner with a passion for every day Australians to be that little bit healthier. Whether it’s sleeping better, exercising more, eating more fruit and veggies each day or doing your best to maintain a good headspace. Bell is a massive advocate of lifestyle medicine – harnessing your everyday lifestyle habits to help prevent, manage or even reverse chronic disease.