So that’s it, Alcohol Awareness week is over, and I promised to tell you about how I got on with my challenge to stick to the recommended weekly guidelines: that’s 14 units a week, spread across the week, evenly over three or more days with a couple of alcohol free days. I continued to keep a track of my units with the help of the Drinkaware app, and alongside it, kept a diary of what I had to drink and the circumstances in which I was drinking. Here are a few things I learned:
Sticking to the guidelines isn’t as hard as you think
If I can do it, anyone can. I had more alcohol free days and felt such a ridiculous sense of achievement waking up the next morning knowing I’d completed another AFD.
It’s not always what’s in the glass that’s important
Often, for me, it’s more about the ceremony of having a nice glass of something on hand to sip, especially if I’m watching television (which is when I seem to absent mindedly demolish a couple of glasses of wine without thinking about it). Also, hot chocolate works well for stemming the ‘I’ve had a busy day’ glass of wine craving. Snuggling up with a creamy cup of cocoa (extra marshmallows, please) is so comforting – I quickly forgot that I’d wanted a glass of wine. And if you’re drinking gin and tonic and fancy another, it’s an easy fix just to refill your glass with tonic – you can already taste the gin from the last one. I’m also going to look through my friend Helen’s book, Teetotal Tipples, again, for more fancy schmancy alcohol free cocktails to try.
Drink free days bring a whole new meaning to ‘the morning after the night before’
I wake up feeling fab when I haven’t drunk alcohol the night before. I’m an early riser anyway, but the days I didn’t drink, I sprang out of bed feeling fantastic and ready to face the day. I had fewer headaches (probably often due to dehydration – see next point), and I was proud of myself for making healthier choices.
When I’m not drinking I drink much more water
We splashed out on some nice fizzy water, and with a couple of ice cubes and a slice of orange, it fulfils the ceremony requirements (see point 1) and feels healthy too. Winning.
Tracking what you drink really helps
The act of tracking (and measuring) what you’re drinking (using the clever Drinkaware app and the unit measuring cup) really makes you aware of just how many top ups you’re having. You can set a limit for the days you choose to drink and the app will gently remind you when you’re nearing that point, which keeps you mindful (helpful if you’ve had a couple and your defences are lowered).
If you live out in the sticks, not drinking can save you a fortune
On our trip out to dinner in Marlow, we usually would have paid for a car there and back (possibly another £70-80). Added bonus? Because I was designated driver (and saving myself all those alcohol calories), I indulged in a decadent dessert.
So, moving forward, will it change how I drink?
Yes, I think it will. I’ll keep using the app to track my units and continue to try and be aware of how much and when I’m drinking. On the nights I am drinking, I’ll make sure I’m having a glass of water or a soft drink between glasses, and Mr E and I have vowed to keep a lid on what we call second bottle syndrome (you know, when you’re enjoying the wine so much, your defences are down and you crack on and open another). We’ve decided to choose the wine we drink much more carefully and – dare I say it – maybe even splash out a little more, then really savour the one bottle rather than guzzle two. I’ll also volunteer to be designated driver more often (and have that amazing dessert), and I’ll even think about doing dry January!
Thanks for all your messages – I loved your feedback and knowing that we were in this together was really inspiring, and as usual, feel free to chat on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.