October 11, 2018
Should you go sober for October?
Most adults enjoy a drink now and again. You might have a glass of wine with dinner, a nightcap before bed or a few pints of lager on a Friday night with your friends. However, it is becoming increasingly fashionable to give up drinking altogether this month, with people all over the world going sober for October.
Some do this for charity, others for the health benefits, while plenty simply want to take on the challenge. If you’re thinking about going for it, then there are a few things you should know before jumping straight in.
First of all, if you’re on the fence, there are a number of health benefits you should bear in mind that might convince you to give up alcohol this month. Once you decide, we’ve got some tips for you that should help you avoid drinking and not have to deal with cravings.
How giving up drinking can affect your health
In case you were wondering what the medical community thinks about drinking, the consensus is fairly clear. While it’s thought that small amounts of alcohol can be good for your health – for example, a glass of red wine each day may be beneficial to your heart – in general, doctors recommend sobriety.
Furthermore, you don’t have to give up drinking forever in order to experience the health benefits. Talking to Men’s Health, Dr Damon Raskin said: “Taking a break from drinking alcohol – even if it’s just for a couple of weeks – is a good idea, especially if you’re regularly consuming more than the recommended daily limit.”
So what are the benefits? Well, first and foremost, by giving up alcohol you’ll be consuming much fewer calories. An average pint of lager, for example, contains around 180 calories; roughly the same amount as a large slice of pizza. Similarly, a 175ml glass of wine contains around 160 calories.
To make things worse, these are empty calories, meaning they have no nutritional value to your body. While alcohol doesn’t contain any fat, drinking it leads to your body retaining more of the nutrient from other sources. It considers processing the alcohol as a priority, meaning calories from anything else you eat won’t be burned as energy and will be stored as fat instead.
These negative health effects would occur if you were drinking pure alcohol, but you’re probably not doing that. Unfortunately, a lot of drinks come with a significant helping of added sugar, especially ciders, alcopops and fortified wines. This adds even more calories to your habit.
Then there’s the hangover. Even a few alcoholic drinks can lead to you feeling less than fresh in the morning. This makes you less likely to have the energy to exercise, or prepare yourself healthy meals; in fact, you’re likely to find yourself craving starchy and fatty foods as a result of the alcohol.
How to go sober for October
Even if you’re just a light drinker, going without for an entire month can be difficult. Alcohol isn’t just an addictive chemical; it’s also a large part of many people’s social life, as well as being a way some choose to relax after a hard day at work. It can feel like giving up on alcohol means giving up on having fun nights out or a nice calm evening.
That’s why it’s important to work out what you get out of alcohol beyond the taste and the sensation of getting a bit tipsy. If it is a way for you to wind down, for example, you can get through a sober October by finding new relaxation strategies. You might find a bath or a herbal tea can have the same effect for you.
You should also be open and honest with your friends and family, especially about why you’re giving up drinking. Peer pressure can be a big factor, with your friends encouraging you to have a pint or a cocktail. If they know what you’re doing and why, they’ll be more likely to help and support you.
To this end, it might be a good idea to try to get sponsored. Your friends might scoff at the idea of you giving up drinking in order to lose weight, but it’s hard to argue with raising money for charity. This will also help you avoid temptation, as giving in means letting down a good cause.
However you choose to motivate yourself, don’t worry if you do slip up! If you have a drink, there’s no need to give up entirely. Having one or two drinks throughout October is still a lot better than having thirty. After a week or so it will become a lot easier, and by November you might wonder why you ever drank alcohol in the first place.