I realised recently that I haven't consumed alcohol since November 2016. This has been both unintentional and conscious at the same time. An odd sentence I know but one that actually makes this former calorie-counter and food obsessor very happy.
The last drink that I had wasn't a terrible experience by any stretch of the imagination. I was with a dear friend on a sunny afternoon and we were seated overlooking the ocean enjoying a glass of red wine. The thing is that as mindful as I was, with each sip my mouth and tongue became drier and more acidic. This happened despite being well hydrated and then the headache arrived. Within an hour, I noticed how different my appetite and tummy felt. In short: this wasn't my normal and I didn't like it.
Through my 20's, alcohol has wavered from a regular presence - say 1-3 glasses of wine per week - to being non-existent. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that growing up in Australia with an enormous drinking culture, I'm in the minority.
Now however, as with all food choices, I go with what feels best in my body. Not what others are doing, not even what's "right," just simply what I want. And as I said, for someone who used to weigh and record every gram of food and drink that passed my lips - this is a win. So whilst I consciously have stayed away from alcohol because I don't want to feel the way I've described, I've also set no intentional rules about it.
What's the deal with alcohol?
You may not like this though the truth is the truth - alcohol is a poison to our body. I don't feel dry, headache-y and icky for no reason. Hangovers are the ultimate insight to this fact.
Bear with me though as if you've been a reader of this blog for a while now, you know that I'm not about prescription or extremes so it's not all bad news.
Drinking alcohol takes a large hit on our body's hydration levels. In a nutshell, it interferes with the mechanisms that regulate water levels in the body. Hence - my dry mouth and headache.
There's also considerable load in removing the alcohol from our body as efficiently as possible and the liver is the key player here, with the kidneys playing a supporting role. So in a healthy individual, alcohol can be metabolised - broken down into water soluble molecules - and excreted by urine, sweat and exhalation. The vast majority of the alcohol however is absorbed by our gut - stomach and small intestine particularly.
So the deal with alcohol is that it is a big deal with far-reaching effects on every system in our body.
Can I never drink alcohol?
First of all, you can do as you please. However, from a health and wellness perspective, I'd encourage reviewing when/how/what you drink just as you would with the food you choose to eat.
As I've shared in the past, I grew up in a European household where wine was absolutely enjoyed by adults as part of a meal. In fact my grandmother enjoyed a small red wine spritzer with her lunch most days of her later life. Key word there being enjoyed. These days, my sister and mum will often share a glass of red and friends around me will do exactly the same. I too have been in that circumstance and have really enjoyed the experience.
The drinking culture of how you've grown up and where you live has a lot to do with your choices. Being mindful and more conscious of what you truly want is always a positive practice.
I place alcohol in the 20 portion of 80/20. It's a sometimes thing. And I feel it's best for every cell in our body to treat it as such.
- One standard drink is useful in that it's shown to be roughly what an average, healthy liver can manage to detox within an hour. That however, doesn't mean it's gone.
- Bring mindfulness to your consumption of alcohol and don't simply assume you will drink - do you even want to?
- Enjoy alcohol in good company and positive environments - over a delicious meal with friends for instance where drinking is not the name of the game
- Hydrate! Ensure you're keeping H20 levels up by consuming water whilst drinking alcohol
- Buy sparkling water and add fruit - it feels fancy and is hydrating!
- Try red wine over say white because whilst it's not quite the same as eating antioxidants via our fruit and veggies, red wine does contain an antioxidant called resveratrol
- Explore the delicious non-alcoholic options out there - like this spritzer recipe below
- 600g mango flesh (3 medium mangoes)
- 4 medium passionfruit
- 50ml lime juice (2 limes)
- 1.5L sparkling water
- Sprigs fresh thyme, to serve
- Blend mango flesh on high for a minute or until smooth
- Halve passionfruit to spoon seeds and juice into serving jug
- Add mango, lime juice and sparkling water
- Stir well to combine
- Serve over ice with a sprig of thyme in each glass
For instance, papaya or pawpaw, watermelon or berries.