‘So you’re not drinking, or what?’ This was the comment I regularly received when I turned down a glass of wine at dinner parties.
Last year I gave up wine for Lent – not that I’m religious, but I thought 40 days was a reasonable amount of time to go without a drink. This year I added chocolate and cookies to the list when I gave up alcohol for three months.
We’d been to New Zealand for two weeks and both my husband and I had enjoyed the NZ cuisine and wine a little too much for the waistline. So from the end of January to the end of April (my birthday), I went without all three – no alcohol, no choccies and no cakes.
I found it pretty easy to drink something else with dinner – usually water. I think the glass of wine at the end of the day is just a habit – and setting my mind to not drinking was easy – I felt quite self-righteous I have to admit.
The result was rewarding: I could stay up longer; I didn’t fall asleep in front of the TV, and I felt much better in the morning. No longer was I groaning as I swung my feet over the edge of my bed; instead I felt refreshed and energetic, ready to face the day.
It helped too that in March I got a puppy, True, those first few walks were a little challenging, but after about a week or so, I was looking forward to the walks as much as my puppy was enjoying them. And I’m keeping the middle-aged spread at bay.
So what did I learn from the experience? I think setting a time frame (like Lent, or another significant period) is a good idea. I found it more fun to abstain (from alcohol) with my partner as we kept each other honest.
I rewarded myself by getting a puppy, but I think you can motivate yourself by the promise of improved general health and wellbeing. And it is a conversation piece at those dinner parties (although I’m not sure I was very popular with my friends who continued drinking regularly – could they be a little jealous of my will-power?)
We broke our alcohol fast just before my birthday in late April. I did enjoy that first glass of red, but the habit of not drinking has stayed with me: I hardly drink in the evenings at home, nor do I drink during the day at lunch. I do have a glass with dinner if we’re going out – and I have to confess to a stint of drinking a few hot toddies, but that’s only because I had a feverish cold.
My husband is also drinking less, particularly less beer, which he says tastes gaseous to him. So if he and I can do it – and gain so much from the experience – why don’t you too take an alcohol break? And feel the difference.
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