Dry January and beyond! The way forward for women who want to cut down or cut out alcohol.

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Make mine a mocktail! Dry January and beyond!

As we write this, according to YouGov, 3 million people in the UK are allegedly 14 days into Dry January. This month they’ll shun alcohol in all its forms. They'll scour the internet looking for new ideas for alcohol-free drinks to have at  those times when they usually wind-down with glass of wine, G&T or cold beer, transitioning from gloomy days to winter evenings or looking for something sippable at social events.  A recent YouGov poll of around 2000 people reported that those aged between 35-54 are most likely to do Dry January. Gaining popularity each year, DJ has become a sober ‘lifestyle trend’ to add to the calendar, so it’s likely that a significant number of peri-menopausal and menopausal women will be taking part. We say ‘allegedly’ part way through the journey, as we're wondering how many of them make it through the thirty-one days of the month?

So, let’s look at some of the facts! We can’t ignore the benefits of cutting out alcohol for a month:

(A 2013 experiment by New Scientist & Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School) found that when giving up alcohol for 30 day:

  • liver fat, cholesterol, weight and blood sugars fall
  • quality and length of sleep improve

Whatever your reason for choosing to cut out alcohol, seductive and compelling figures from Alcohol Concern add grist to the mill for the idea of going a month without booze. Doing this delivers an ice-bucketful of physical and mental health benefits.

-49 % lose weight

-62 % find their sleep improves

-79 % save money  (It's estimated that the average person spends around £50,000 on booze in their lifetime!)

There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving up alcohol. Many of us tap in our card numbers to order potions, tablets and teas that we hope will help us to lose weight, calm down and sleep better. One of the best tactics is right under our nose, abstinence for a month. It might be boring and tough for the first couple of weeks but then you’ll be over the hump and you’ll start to feel some of the benefits, especially in terms of the all-important sleep.

Whilst these are the facts, the reality is that lots of us won’t follow Dry January as we can’t imagine a month without drinking, we don’t want to, or we feel January is a pretty miserable enough month anyway. Then there are those who throw in the towel part way through and reach for a drink. All understandable if alcohol is part of your life.

If going dry isn’t going to cut it for you, go ‘damp’! Treat Dry January as a reset button. Nurture your liver! Women who’ve drifted into the habit of drinking every day should follow the British Liver Trust advice; have 3 consecutive ‘nights-off’ alcohol to allow liver cells to recover and repair themselves. Rather than going dry and then hitting hurricane season, break the habit of daily drinking by changing your drinking behaviour in the long-term; your liver, your menopause and your purse will thank you!

Laura Willoughby, founder of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement, supports people who either want to cut down or cut out alcohol. Read her Hot Flush blog where she shares her thoughts on Women, Alcohol and Menopause.

You might also want to check our HotFlush tips on alcohol-free alternatives for women who don’t want to drink cloying, syrupy, gas-filled drinks but rather sip something zesty, sour or zingy.

We spoke to Clare, personal trainer and pilates teacher, on how she dealt with her decision for going alcohol-free.