As June comes to a close and I embark on a new month, I thought I’d reflect on my month of cutting down alcohol. I didn’t manage to cut it out completely, however I did cut down quite significantly.
- People are very disconcerted by someone who doesn’t drink. I get lots of strange looks, as if I have multiple heads. Followed by the obvious questions, ‘Why don’t you drink’? ‘Where’s the fun in not drinking?’ or statements along the lines of ‘oh, you’re very good’ or ‘Oh I couldn’t do that’. Many people continue to justify to me why they drink, and tell me more often than not that they are the black sheep of the family and that no one else in the family drinks as much. No one as yet has made a positive comment about the fact I am choosing not to drink. It’s not generally the bar owners, they have been amazingly supportive, in fact, one bar that we frequent in Portugal has made virgin cocktails to brighten up the monotony of sparkling water. Both of our favourite bars add a variety of fruit, or put sparkling water into a nicer glass so that it looks more special. It’s generally the other customers who seem to have a real problem with a non-drinker in their midst. This has got me wondering what would the situation be if I was genuinely an alcoholic. This is a choice I have made because alcohol makes me feel a bit rubbish, it’s not an addiction I am trying to quit. Are people generally so lacking in understanding that they think it’s acceptable to grill someone on their reasons for not drinking? I can easily understand why anyone who was struggling with an addiction to alcohol would choose to avoid bars as it’s an incredibly tough environment to be in as a non-drinker.
- Generally, the choice of non-alcoholic alternatives in bars and restaurants is fairly rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, many places do offer a full range of alternatives: soft drinks, fruit juices, even virgin cocktails, however, these are usually fully laden with sugar. Whilst sitting waiting for friends in a local restaurant I ‘googled’ sugar content of drinks – many alcoholic drinks have lower sugar content than non-alcoholic drinks. Yes, I can hear you shout, what about the diet versions? But what about sweetener – the effects of which are equally as bad, if not worse, than sugar. So taking all of this into account, I am pretty much left with sparkling water. You might argue I am being too picky – but I don’t see the point of going to all the effort of cutting out alcohol, just to replace it with a different version of bad (in my eyes).
- Drunk people can be rude, insensitive and invasive. Some, not all. For some reason, after some people have had a drink, it becomes their prerogative to interfere in all aspects of your life – suddenly no topic is off limits. They know everything about you; they know everything you have done and have done it at least a million times better; they know what you need to do to fix / improve every aspect of your life; they become incredibly nosey and ask the kinds of questions that they wouldn’t dare ask when they are sober. All of a sudden they are experts on each and every aspect of your life. Now, this could be because I am now sober in the bar – but my capacity for dealing with this has diminished and I can feel my frustrations rising. I can well understand that previously, I didn’t really hear, or really didn’t care due to the wine I had consumed myself.
As yet, I can’t say that there has been a startling improvement in how I feel or look. In particular, I have been looking for improvements in hot flushes, tiredness and quality of sleep, all of which can be attributed to menopause. As I mention previously, weight loss isn’t as high a priority for me as feeling and looking healthy.
Hot flushes: there has been little or no difference in the number / intensity of hot flushes, particularly over night. Now, it is super hot in the UK at the moment – but still – no change.
Exhaustion: I still have days when I feel utterly exhausted, like I am walking in treacle. Clearly, having a glass of wine didn’t improve them, but it would seem they weren’t caused entirely by wine consumption. I suspect they are more related to hormones and I need to continue the research to find a solution to this.
Sleep: Still rubbish, and still very intermittent. I still haven’t managed to sleep through the night without interruption, although I’m not sure how much the weather has been a contributory factor in this.
There have, however, been some improvements:
- The restless legs have calmed down. I haven’t been quite so plagued by my legs kicking through the night.
- I feel a little brighter in the morning when I wake up.
- I’ve recovered a little sense of myself. I feel a little more like the old me, and am increasingly confident about walking into social situations knowing I am going to order non-alcholic drinks. Because I feel more at ease, I am more relaxed and generally a happier person to be with. I’m not putting myself under pressure to be someone I’m not, and as a consequence am enjoying going out much more than I was before.
I’ve decided that each month I will cut out one more thing and add in one thing. As I only started exercising properly at the beginning of last week, I’m going to continue increasing the level of exercise throughout July. The temptation to add in something else is immense, but I’m keen not to take on too much at once, which is something I find particularly difficult.
So, beside continuing to cut alcohol out of my diet I am also going to cut out caffeine. Apparently, this is another contributor to hot flushes due to menopause, so we’ll see how this month goes! Clearly, if the weather continues they way it is, it may not be the best month to be judging how effective it is to remove caffeine from my day!