It has become alarmingly obvious that in this country if you are not drinking on a night out, people think you are either pregnant or on antibiotics – or that there is something wrong with you.
It’s considered abnormal when people don’t drink; sure you’re ‘zero craic’ if you don’t have a few bevvies!
As a health professional I’m very aware that I have to practise what I preach and on the whole I think I do. I’m also a great believer that balance 80/20 NOT 50/50 is the best way to incorporate a few glasses of wine, your favourite pizza or chocolate bar into your diet without feeling deprived.
On the other hand, alcohol is one of the top reasons, I believe, that obesity and a decline in mental health are on the rise.
Aside from an over-consumption in high calorie junk foods and lack of movement, alcohol is right up there as a high calorie, nutrient devoid beverage that is packing on the pounds and offering nothing back in return.
It can also create a dependance that further exacerbates our problem with self-esteem and confidence.
After discussions with a few of my clients on alcohol, a few of us have taken the decision to ban the booze for six months.
We are going to see what it is like going on a night out and seeing if we can make our own craic, cope with the stresses of life without the glass of red in hand at the end of the day, and look forward to parties, weddings and holidays without the liquor.
I see many women like myself with full time jobs, young families and busy lives look like they are holding it together on the surface but in reality live a life where they cannot get though the weekends or even weekdays without alchohol.
Now, I’m not going to be a hypocrite because there is nothing I love more than a few cocktails on a night out or a glass or two of red wine on a Friday night after a long week at work.
However, it doesn’t love me back! My friends and husband tell me it’s not really a challenge as I drink so little – they are right.
I always stay well under the weekly NHS units and don’t have a dependence on it. But I have taken this decision for a host of other reasons.
Here are the main reasons I am giving up alcohol:
1. If I have more than two glasses of wine it affects my energy levels and work productivity the next day.
2. It throws my hormones and blood sugar levels off kilter, increasing my appetite for high sugar junk food. Who ever craved a chicken salad with a hangover?
3. I’m getting too bloody old! At 44 I can’t handle the three-day hangovers. In my twenties I could have gone partying all night and got up and went straight at it the next day. Not anymore.
4. I find that in the days after drinking any problems or insecurities I have become a huge ugly monster in my head. I feel vulnerable, paranoid and sad.
5. It affects my training intensity for days afterwards.
6. It bloats my stomach and can actually cause a painful and swollen abdomen.
7. As I get older I have to work twice as hard as I did in my twenties and thirties to maintain my weight. Alcohol equals calories that I just don’t need. Anyway, I’d rather eat my favourite bar of chocolate than drink the same calories in a glass of wine.
In summary, I value my mental health as well as my physical health and they both need looked after and cared for. The only person who can do that is myself.
I know for sure that alcohol is not the sticking plaster that a healthy state of mind requires. I don’t know if I will struggle or not, but I do know that the ladies who are completing this booze ban will be a support for each other and I’m looking forward to sharing stories with them, and not just talking the talk but walking the walk when it comes to a totally holistic approach to health.