Dry January is the UK’s one-month alcohol-free challenge. It is organised by the charity Alcohol Change, who states that going alcohol-free for a month has multiple benefits, including lower blood pressure and a reduced diabetes risk. It is also a way of developing healthier drinking habits that last all year round.
Why am I taking part?
When my doctor asks me “how often do you drink?”, I always say “once a month or less” – though if I had been asked this question during the last few months of 2020, my answer would have been different. Every week, I bought a bottle of white wine to use in recipes (for example, stuffed tomatoes in wine sauce, or tartiflette) and drank whatever was left over the next few days. There was wine in my food and wine in my glass, which meant I was drinking a lot more than usual.
Around the same time, I began a new role at Transform Housing & Support, a charity that provides housing, care and support for vulnerable people across Surrey and surrounding areas. Some of the clients we work with have alcohol issues, which are varied and don’t necessarily involve addiction. Our work is incredibly meaningful and learning about these clients made me question my own drinking habits.
I decided to try Dry January to see if it would make a difference to my health. Here are my thoughts, three weeks into the challenge.
Two days in and I am already feeling challenged. It’s time for me to go shopping, so I open my cupboard to see what needs re-stocking. I see rice, tomato purée, couscous… And the (expensive) bottle of white wine I have been saving since December. It’s for a special occasion.
“Not today,” I tell myself. I hurry out of my house with my shopping bags and start walking to the farm shop, but the thought of this wine and what it might taste like stays on my mind. I wonder if consciously keeping away from alcohol is making me think about it more.
Still, I resist.
Another week, another food shop. This time, I want to try a recipe I found online. It’s potato-based and looks vegetarian, so I don’t question it until I start scrolling down the page and see the last ingredient, which is white wine. I tell myself that ‘alcohol for food’ doesn’t count, but I know I am making excuses.
I buy red lentils and make soup instead.
On a more positive note, week two is when I start seeing real results. My previous bloating has gone down and I feel more energetic, which means I am performing better during my workouts. My mind also feels more awake.
I also notice that my parents have been drinking a glass of red wine every day this week. I ask them if they want to take part in Dry January, but they ignore me. I suppose the real question is: how strong is my resolve?
My parents no longer drink wine around the dinner table. They are on a diet. Ha!
I could write entire paragraphs about the benefits Dry January has had on my body and lifestyle. For clarity’s sake, I have listed them below:
Will you take part in Dry January?
I recommend taking part in this challenge if you want to ‘reset’ your relationship with alcohol. It has been an enlightening experience for me – and who knows, I might even sign up for Sober Spring.
Some helpful resources:
By Melissa Saryazdi, a Social Media Officer Graduate Trainee at Transform Housing & Support