Is not drinking alcohol the new frontier of healthy living?

Like many others, my relationship with alcohol is fairly uneventful. I definitely drank way too much in my 20s, and when I drink more than a couple of glasses of wine now as a 31 year old, I’m a literal corpse the next day or two. I shame spiral when this happens, annoyed at myself for drinking more than I like to, eating food that doesn’t agree with me, a pounding head, a puffy face, the list goes on. My mornings of waking up like this have decreased dramatically, and I suspect will continue to do so, and as a classic foray into “dry January” I started to consider, what if I just stopped drinking entirely?

Upon hearing that Chrissy Teigen did just that after reading the book by Holly Whitaker "Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed withI decided to read the book as well to kickstart my month of no alcohol, and I wanted to share some of my immediate takeaways from the book:

1. The book really puts into perspective how crazy our society is surrounding drinking. We are truly led to believe that you have to drink once you become an adult in order to enjoy life. That you must drink at every celebration, every nice dinner, every social event- and if any event doesn’t have alcohol, it’s not a good event. This is something that as someone who likes to drink in extreme moderation makes me anxious at every event I go to- the feeling that I have to drink or nurse a couple of drinks so people don’t push drinking on me (and once I have more than 2 my judgement to stop is as good as anyone else’s), or the anxiousness of knowing I may not have a fun time if I don’t drink. I’ve even thought that during a dry month that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends in the same way, or that I should pre-warn them that I’ll be not drinking just to level set expectations of the night. It’s insane. I have noticed the divide in my adult life of those who like to drink more and those who like to drink less, and usually I gravitate toward those who want to drink less and be functional the next day.

2. The impact on your body- we know that waking up with a headache, the bad sleep, a puffy face, bloat, bad breath and extreme nausea is unpleasant and unnatural so why do we continue to do it? The science of what it does to your body is alarming:

It’s too good not to share the quote from Holly in its entirety, so here it is:

"We read labels, we shun gluten, dairy, processed foods, and refined sugars. We buy organic, we use natural sunscreen and beauty products. We worry about fluoride in our water, smog in our air, hydrogenated oils in our food, and we debate whether plastic bottles are safe to drink from.

We replace toxic cleaning products with Mrs. Myers and homemade vinegar concoctions. We do yoga, we run, we SoulCycle and Fitbit, we go paleo and keto, we juice, we cleanse. We do coffee enemas and steam our yonis, and drink clay and charcoal, and shoot up vitamins, and sit in infrared foil boxes, and hire naturopaths, and shamans, and functional doctors, and we take nootropics and we stress about our telomeres. These are all real words.

We are hyper-vigilant about everything we put into our body, everything we do to our body, and we are proud of this. We Instagram how proud we are of this, and we follow Goop and Well+Good, and we drop 40 bucks on an exercise class because there are healing crystals in the floor.

The global wellness economy is estimated to be worth $4 trillion. $4 TRILLION DOLLARS. We are on an endless and expensive quest for wellness and vitality and youth. And we drink fucking rocket fuel.” - Holly Whitaker

Given all of the gross side effects and our culture of label reading I am genuinely surprised it’s not chic, or more “in vogue” to not drink alcohol, at all.

3. The person you can be without drinking. I have to say, reading the book and imagining a life where I just didn’t drink actually really excited me. A major reason I try not to drink now is mostly because I don’t feel like I have that kind of time to waste. I have a full time job and a full time business that I have to be present for on weekends. I can’t waste a Sunday on the couch ordering food when I have a business to operate and grow. So when I do find (pre covid life) that there’s a social event I need to go to, I find myself being really antsy about potentially losing a day of the weekend to a potential hangover. Imagine just saying no. The money I’d save (which let’s be honest, I’d rather invest in fashion) the yummy food I would enjoy without washing it down with alcohol. The time I would get back. The moments I would remember more clearly. The mistakes I wouldn’t make. It all sounds like the kind of person I aspire to be- so why do I dance around alcohol so much? The book really highlights the societal pressure we get since a young age surrounding it. It’s weird to say no to alcohol without people questioning if you’re pregnant, extremely religious, extremely boring, or that you are an alcoholic.

4. The way alcohol is marketed is alarming, and similar to the way cigarette ads used to be that we are shocked by now. I find myself even noticing that we, as a brand do it as well. We promote rosé lifestyle, and often pose with wine glasses in our hands as accessories. I’m not saying we won’t do that anymore, but I do want to be conscious of it as a marketer promoting alcohol at all times.

I’m not saying I’ll quit drinking for good but I highly recommend this book if you are interested in taking a break- and I am absolutely here for a society that praises binge drinking and hangovers less.

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