Alcohol consumption is something I spend a lot of time talking with clients about. It is a topic fraught with uncertainty, sometimes embarrassment or shame, and often a sense of helplessness.
Most people I speak to about alcohol acknowledge that they want to reduce their consumption and are looking for strategies to help them do so easily. Consuming more alcohol than is right for a person (and I think this varies wildly depending on the person!) can result in low energy, “brain fog”, anxiety, depression, and sleep and gut disturbances.
Anxiety and denial of difficulties at work or in relationships are the most common reasons why many clients say they drink more alcohol than they believe to be healthy for them. We are seeking the flavour, relaxation sensation and dopamine effect in the brain to assist us in feeling better, even just for an evening.
However, alcohol washes out many of our B vitamins which support our brain in thinking, concentration, memory, and our responses and reactions to stressors. Alcohol also diminishes healthy gut bacteria. It is also common for it to make us sleepy to begin with, and then wake us up through the night.
I am entering anecdotal territory now, but the following is something I feel strongly about enough to share. From my two decades of practice I've observed that Shiraz varieties of wine seem to cause more reflux, oesophagitis, heartburn, migraines, high blood pressure, disturbed sleep, anxiety, hot flushes, and more hives (urticaria)in those who may be prone to them, than other wines or spirits. If you suffer from the any of the above and Shiraz is your alcohol of choice I would recommend taking a break from drinking (altogether, ideally!) and see what differences it makes for you.
How to make it easier to reduce alcohol or have a period of abstinence:
- Increase your calcium and magnesium intake, through your diet or supplemental, to help your nervous system as you reduce your alcohol intake.
- Increase your protein intake, to ensure more brain hormone foundation nutrients are present.
- Are you better to reduce slowly or going cold turkey? Knowing what is best for you is really important. For some, reducing over a week or more will limit any sugar cravings that you might experience, but for others its better just to draw the line in the sand.
- If you're reducing your daily intake, drink only with your dinner meal using a standard glass. Knowledge is power, and you might be surprised how little a standard drink feels like.
- Meeting friends for breakfast or brunch, when it is not usual to be drinking alcohol compared with a dinner meeting.
- Set yourself sober days goals based on your own situation. Aiming for a certain number of days alcohol free in a row, or a certain number per week can help you be motivated to reach your goals, and you could increase them over time.
Everyone is different, but my basic recommendation is no more than 2 standard drinks in a day. If you are planning to have a baby, a maximum of two standard drinks per week for both women and men may help you along the way. Not drinking at all if pregnant or breastfeeding is the safest option.
A big thanks to @moorhousecreative for the photography.