By Lisa Larkin, MD, FACP, NCMP, IF
The new year is here, and with it comes the chance to reset after overindulging in a little too much holiday cheer over the past few months. One trend gaining ground is “Dry January” where people abstain from alcohol all month long.
Some people may scoff at that idea. After all, many like to unwind with a glass of wine after a long week or to celebrate the weekend. However, research has shown that too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of certain cancers
- Increased risk of dementia
Just how much is too much? Despite changing guidelines, many people think light-to-moderate drinking (no more than one drink a day) is safe. But research now shows that seven drinks in a week for women is certainly too much, and in fact, research now indicates that lower limits are more appropriate. For example, for breast cancer risk reduction, the limit is lower- at just three drinks per week, meaning that women who consume more than that are increasing their chance of developing breast cancer.
Dry January help can launch your new year with healthier habits. Passing up that glass of wine or sipping on seltzer instead of a cocktail can also bring about some significant (and immediate) health benefits, such as:
- Brighter skin that looks younger and more radiant
- A stronger immune system to fight off winter illnesses
- A more positive outlook and better overall mood
- A good night’s sleep – and less tossing and turning
- Weight loss from missed calories in alcoholic drinks
Tips for a successful Dry January
Many social events and our weekly routines sometimes center around alcohol. The idea of cutting it out completely for the month may seem a little daunting at first. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips to make Dry January a success.
Start a New Routine
Break the habit of a nightly or weekly glass of wine or beer with a new routine to take its place. Plan a walk around the block with your partner or friend. Sign up for an evening workout class. Chances are you’ll completely forgot about your regular habit – and feel stronger and better with more exercise.
Sip on Something Else
Try a mocktail or flavored seltzer instead of your usual drink. Check on one of the many healthy mocktail recipes for the nights that call for something a little more festive than water. If you really want to get fancy, try pouring it in a special glass.
Make it Work for You
If abstaining from alcohol the whole month isn’t feasible because of a special event or celebration, make a goal that’s right for you. Limit drinks to one night a week or only indulge during those special occasions.
Invite a Friend
Challenge a friend or your partner to join you during Dry January. Hold each other accountable and try out new activities together that don’t center on alcohol. And, when you do attend a party or social event with drinking, you’ll have someone to enjoy the night without breaking your no drinking streak.