Day 8 now – whoopee! Not feeling quite as bright this morning as I couldn’t get to sleep for ages, but still had to get up for the school run. But hey ho, still waking up with a clear head and a clear conscience!
As I had four and a half months under my belt earlier this year before listening to Evil One (the voice that tells me ‘Go on, have a glass of wine, you deserve it’) one night, I thought I’d put down on paper (or screen in this case) what I found helped keep me off the poison (and it is) during that time.
- Finding a replacement drink
- Allowing myself a sweet treat
- Not letting myself get too hungry
- Having a pledge alert on my ‘I am sober’ app at 6pm
- Deep breathing
Finding a replacement drink
Did you know there are over 200 calories in a 250 ml glass of wine? And around 180 calories in a pint of beer? A friend of mine once referred to wine as ‘liquid cake’.
So, whatever your replacement drink, it’s probably not going to be as high in calories as either of the above. If I want a glass of wine, it’s around 6 pm that this craving will kick in, so if it does I drink; fizzy water with lime, lemon Tourntel (a bottled drink I found in France) and my new favourite – alcohol-free beer. At first I worried about whether it really was alcohol-free and if it was made up of all sorts of rubbish (says a woman who quite happily drank wine without a care in the world!). It’s not, and it’s good! In fact, I cannot understand why it’s not being marketed more. I’d go so far as to say it’s a health drink. Here’s why:
- If you’re watching your waistline, don’t worry. Alcohol contains 56 calories per unit, so alcohol-free beers are always lower in calories than their full-strength equivalent.
- The ingredients in alcohol-free beer are water, grain, yeast and hops – so like alcoholic beer but without the alcohol.
- In the EU, most beverages under 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) must include the ingredients on the label. So, while producers of full-strength beers can keep you in the dark about the ingredients they use, producers of low and no alcohol drinks can’t. (In other regions such as the US, producers don’t have to list the ingredients on the label. However, many do voluntarily, either on packaging or on their websites).
- Alcohol-free beer (as with alcoholic beer) also contains these vitamins and minerals in high enough amounts to have a positive effect on our bodies:
- vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- vitamin B3 (niacin)
- vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- vitamin B7 (biotin)
- vitamin B9 (folic acid)
- vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- sodium (salt)
It also contains polyphenols, which contain antioxidants and have various health benefits.
So, what’s not to love?! Also, did you know hops can act as a sedative that can help you sleep better? I should have had one last night! https://steadydrinker.com/articles/health-benefits-alcohol-free-beer/
And another one: it can be good for pregnant women, as it is thought the folic acid found in the alcohol-free beer can be good for baby too!
Folic acid is essential for the strong development of the spinal cord and brain. It’s also been shown to stimulate the production of milk during breastfeeding! https://www.musclefood.com/blog/5-surprising-benefits-to-drinking-alcohol-free-beer/
And my favourite one, being a runner: Non-alcoholic beer contains water, carbohydrates, protein and micronutrients. It’s a natural isotonic drink, meaning it contains a similar amount of salt and sugar as found in the human body. Usually consumed by endurance athletes, isotonic drinks replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating. An ice-cold alcohol-free beer is therefore not only refreshing AF, but it’s also ideal after a long training session to prevent cramping and aid in recovery. https://www.freeletics.com/en/blog/posts/alcohol-free-beer/
I rest my case!
I also often have a hot chocolate before bed…..I am regressing and enjoying the comforts of my childhood!
Allowing myself a sweet treat
As a little reward, to say ‘well done’ to myself, I have been allowing myself a treat in the form of a pudding in the evening – it can take whatever form you like 😉 I’m vegan and have been experimenting with vegan chocolate cakes, mousses etc. I’ll add some recipes to my ‘Recipes’ section.
Again, given the calories in alcohol, unless you’re replacing your alcohol intake with 3 slices of cake, 5 packets of crisps, whatever your ‘go-to’, I wouldn’t worry too much about piling on the pounds as you’ll probably still be in a calorie deficit compared to before. But maybe stick to one treat – you’ll thank yourself later. Also, try to avoid developing a sugar ‘habit’ instead – you don’t need a new addiction to battle with! We get our bodies used to sugar through the alcohol we drink, so sugar cravings are really common. I’ve heard, and read, so many times, that people who quit the booze immediately replace it with sugar, then seem to spend time and mental energy on worrying about their new addiction. So, fine – have sweets if that’s what you like – just not too many!
And if you need something sweet during the day, don’t be so hard on yourself and just eat it! You’re doing a fantastic thing by giving up alcohol 🙂
Not letting myself get too hungry
Feeling hungry can make me feel ‘hangry’, as my daughter would say – hungry and angry. I get tetchy, start to feel a little stressed, and that’s when the Evil One might start talking to me: ‘You’re having a difficult moment right now, how about a glass of wine later?’ No! I find that if I eat something small, I feel calmer. I was just hungry after all, and my body was craving calories, not alcohol. I try to make this snack a piece of fruit, but a biscuit would be better than booze any day!
Having a pledge alert on my ‘I am sober’ app at 6pm
There are lots of apps out there now to help you get, and stay alcohol free. The one I heard about, and have installed, is ‘I Am Sober’: https://iamsober.com/. It’s free, but there’s an upgrade you can pay for. I don’t see why you would need to, as it should have all you need on the free version: day tracker, milestones to reach, money you’ve saved by not drinking and even time you’ve not wasted on alcohol! You can set an alert at a ‘triggering’ time of the day and pledge not to booze away your evening. You can also comment on how easy/hard a day, but I don’t bother. I just like my counter telling me how many days I’ve been awesome for and how much time and money I’ve saved!
The 6pm alert I have set reminds me to stay strong, and not waste my evening on wine, followed by regret.
Sound a bit like ‘tree hugging hippy shit’ to you? Think on! I’m not talking about putting yourself into the lotus position and ‘ohm-ing’ to the sound of bells. Just taking a moment when you’re feeling overwhelmed and concentrating on really breathing ‘properly’, slowly and deeply.
Here’s an excerpt from a website article on this subject:
It may sound strange, but many people actually don’t breathe properly. Natural breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing. Over time, people forget how to breathe this way and instead use their chest and shoulders, causing short and shallow breaths, which can increase your stress and anxiety.https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-reduce-stress-by-deep-breathing-2797585
I have a lot to learn about this subject, and meditation as a way of beating stress, but for the moment I just try to stop what I’m doing and breathe properly for a few moments. It’s surprisingly effective!
Hope this has been useful x