We’re now a week into the New Year, and after an indulgent few weeks of drinking and partying many people have sworn off the drink and are taking part in Dry January. Myself included.
A scheme supported by both Alcohol Concern and Cancer Research UK, Dry January encourages adults to steer clear of the booze for 31 days with a promise of feeling better, slimming down and saving money – something many of us could do with after the festive season.
What’s important to note is that living alcohol free for the first month of the year is not an excuse to go all out and binge as soon as our calendars turn to 1st February. Alcohol Concern hope that us Brits will follow the lead of Australia and New Zealand, where a third of participants said they drank less frequently for the rest of the year after following a similar scheme.
What can Dry January do for our health?
If you’ve overindulged over the festive season, it will ultimately give your liver some respite. While our livers are equipped to regenerate themselves, one month alcohol free is not enough to cancel out the damage from years of drinking.
The liver is capable of metabolising alcohol efficiently – one unit an hour – however it does need a break from drink, ideally at least two or three days a week to work efficiently and prevent damage.
“Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics found that 58 per cent of people surveyed had drank alcohol at least once in the last week, while more than one in ten admitted to having a drink virtually every day.”
For people who do drink regularly then Dry January could be really helpful; not only for the health benefits but also to allow us to address our relationship with alcohol. Do we need that glass of wine after work or is it just habit? Do we really need alcohol to relax? 31 days is long enough to allow us to rethink our attitude towards the drink, and perhaps instil new habits when and if we do decide to start drinking again.
A month alcohol free could also do wonders for our waistlines, boosting those New Year’s weight loss efforts. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, alcohol makes up nearly 10% of total calorie intake among drinkers which is quite significant for something that has no nutritional value. Containing seven calories per gram, alcohol is the ultimate empty calorie, and that’s before you add on that greasy takeaway at the end of a big night out.
So weight loss, a clearer head and better relationship with alcohol are just three reasons to consider giving Dry January. The fourth, and something I’m looking forward to seeing, is the financial gains. While I don’t drink as much as I used to in my student days, I do find that living in London you end up paying over the odds for alcohol. That bottle of wine shared over dinner, after-work cocktail or ‘quick drink’ all adds up, so the cash I could have spent on drink can instead be spent on a little treat for myself at the end of the month. Win.
Are you taking part in Dry January? What do you think of the scheme?