Okay okay, so I have 5 days left – but the hard part is over! (Hopefully). And honestly, it wasn’t even that hard at all.
My boyfriend and I did “Whole30” this month, which means no alcohol, no sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes. Looking back the biggest challenge was no hummus (chickpeas are legumes), since I’m a vegetarian and I usually have hummus almost every day! I didn’t miss sugary sweets, grains or dairy too much.
Alcohol? That was interesting!
Really, I thought it would be harder than it actually was. January has all the elements for wanting a drink – it’s cold and gray (perfect time for a warm hot toddy or a holiday drink with baileys), it’s prime football time (are you kidding me? A crisp IPA or a bloody mary on gameday is perfection), and it’s hibernation time (meaning wine nights, dinner parties, netflix binges). Not to mention special occasions like friends’ birthdays, office parties and 3-day weekends! BUT even with all of that – there were only a few times where I thought “oh man I’d love a cocktail…” the rest was really a piece of cake!
Some things I learned along the way:
1. You CAN and SHOULD continue to be social
Anyone can hibernate in their house for a month binge watching movies and TV shows to make the time go faster. But the point of this “cleanse” (for me at least), is to remind yourself how good your body feels when you take care of it, and that it is possible to make healthy choices without depriving yourself!I tried my hardest to say “yes” to as many social events as possible – to prove that you can have a good time without drinking. And every time I had the same or even more energy and cheer than the people I was out with!
2. Find some non-alcoholic drinks that you enjoy
I love bloody marys. And they taste exactly the same without the vodka – so as long as the mix had no added sugar or soy sauce, I was good to go! Sometimes you just don’t feel like dealing with explaining to the people you’re out with why you’re not drinking – or you don’t want them to feel like they shouldn’t be drinking – so just slip under the radar and enjoy a healthy, non-alcoholic drink. For me, it’s also just something to do with my hands! Having a water or seltzer water helps me feel at ease. Another great choice – club soda with lime or fresh berries!
3. Some people will not understand, and they will want you to drink.
People don’t like to drink alone – and they have a harder time letting their guard down and “loosening up” when they know someone is sober and may be judging them. Make sure you’re not giving off an “I’m better than you” vibe – even if it’s unintentional! Don’t go on an on about how amazing you feel and how other people should try it — unless they ask, and are genuinely interested! Just be yourself and have a great time, and you’ll learn quickly that it’s not hard being out without having a drink.And if someone is still giving you a hard time “come on, just one!” “stop being so lame”… then maybe it’s time to reanalyze that friendship 😉
4. Getting in touch with what your body and your mind truly want
One thing I realized this month was how often I order a drink out of habit. Oh, there’s a football game on – I’ll have a beer. Oh, my roommates are watching a movie – I’ll have a glass of wine. Oh, it was a stressful day at work – let’s have a martini.There are certainly times that I truly want a drink – and that is A OKAY in my book. Celebratory occasions, or even just normal fun nights with friends. But it’s so good to just take a minute and think about it… Do I really want this drink right now? Am I drinking it for the taste? For the ritual? For the buzz? For the feeling of social inclusion? Ask those questions and let yourself figure out the answer – and you may find yourself skipping the occasional random Mich Ultra or Tuesday night glass of wine… the random meaningless drinks that add up in calories and make you feel groggy. It’s all about balance!
5. As always, AVOID sugar
This month was a great reminder of how much sugar is in the food that we eat. If it’s in a box, it probably has added sugar. Soda? Seriously, don’t even go near it. And the same is true for alcohol! There are so many delicious cocktails that are loaded with sugar, which has all sorts of negative impacts on your body – including a worse hangover. Most mixed drinks have simple syrup in them, which is literally reduced cane sugar in water.Some ways to avoid the extra sugar and calories
- Stay away from pre-made mixes, like margarita mix, daiquiri mix, etc.
- Always ask for light on the simple syrup
- Have a water or a club soda in between each drink – this will help you drink less, stay hydrated, and cleanse your palette
- Slow down. Give your body a chance to process what you’re drinking and to let you know when you’ve had enough. This will also help avoid a major blood-sugar spike.
- Make your own! If you’re drinking at home, make your own cocktail with just fresh fruit or a dash of honey
As always, find your own balance. If you can drink on occasion and still feel healthy and happy – than I see no problem in that.