When it comes to many things – especially food and drink – we seem to be a society of indulgers or abstainers, taking things to unhealthy extremes either way. We’ve lost touch with a basic bit of wisdom: moderation in all things, including alcohol. Sure, when people drink to excess it can wreak havoc on their body and their life. On the other hand, when consumed in moderation – a glass of wine with dinner, a single dram of scotch after a long day of work, a couple of beers on the dock – plenty of research and respectable studies demonstrate health benefits.
However, I was encouraged by some close friends to participate in “Dry January”, a month free of any booze. And while I admit, I was skeptical. How was a sommelier and wine educator supposed to sustain? My connection to all things fermented and distilled is very strong, but so too is my dedication, and I decided to jump right in and give it a genuine go. Here are 5 things I learned from having a dry month:
1. I was far more productive.
No hangovers, no foggy mornings and a clear, focused mind. I was able to concentrate and finish many tasks and I felt motivated to tackle new projects.
2. I saved money.
A ton. I wouldn’t classify myself as a heavy drinker, but I do enjoy the finer libations: be it a beautiful bottle of wine, a well-made artisanal cocktail, or a craft beer or two and that can certainly add up.
3. I ate healthier.
For me, having a beer and something deep fried and salty is the perfect pairing. Cheese with wine? Yes, please? Cutting out alcohol allowed me to focus on clean eating without any temptations.
4. I realized my willpower.
From industry events, a best friends birthday party, and stressful workdays, there were several times throughout the month that had me thinking of imbibing something delicious. However, I made a pact with myself and stuck with it…. all 31 days.
5. I felt good.
Maybe a domino effect of healthier eating habits, maybe the undisrupted, restful sleep, maybe the added confidence of really great productivity, and most likely a combination of all, I truly did feel great.
So, the first week of February is coming to a close, and did it have me running home to open three bottles of red? Not exactly. Was I excited to visit my favourite cocktail bar again? Absolutely. Moderation is key and while I have never been a big fan of resolutions, I think dry January is a practice I will be doing for years to come.