For the last few years, I have taken part in “Dry January,” a popular English tradition where the British take a break from their bad binge drinking habits and give up alcohol for an entire month. As the rest of the world knows, English people are renowned for their love of booze and the idea of “going dry” for a month actually came about after the government tried to crack down on binge drinking!
The truth of the matter is:
Britain has one of the highest drinking rates in the world, with the average person in England drinking 15 and a half liters of pure alcohol per year. That’s the equivalent of 775 pints of beer…
But what about France?
I’ve been living here for the last six years, and I can assure you that France is a country where drinking wine is practically a national pastime. So what’s the real difference between France and England?
Well, France actually has a lower rate of alcohol consumption with the average person drinking around 11 litres of pure alcohol per year, a statistic that is still high!
I think the main, important difference between England and France is that in France, alcohol is consumed in moderation, with people mostly drinking alcohol with food and where binge-drinking is frowned upon. France has taught me to drink sensibly and to appreciate good wine with good food. They have found their alcohol equilibrium.
But let’s be honest, everyone could benefit from a break from alcohol now and again, which is why I think Dry January is such a good idea!
So what is Dry January?
Dry January is a 31-day detox where your friends sponsor you NOT to drink. All the money you raise goes to Cancer Research, making it a great opportunity to raise money for an important cause that affects so many families.
You sign up online and they send you a starter pack, which includes everything you need to carry out the Dryathlon. All the money you raise will go to the cancer charity of your choice, and all you have to do is not have a drop of alcohol for 31 days. It’s really easy to sign up and you can even do it from abroad as they deliver outside of the UK!
Why am I doing it?
I do Dry January because I used to be a big drinker. I used to drink every weekend without fail and often several times during the week, too. It’s such a “normal” part of life in England that you sadly don’t notice how poor of a life choice it is. Everyone around you drinks, so how bad can it really be?
My first Dry January was awful and I simply gave up in favor of a glass of wine. It was when the wine touched my lips that I realized, to my horror, that it was NOT worth breaking my detox. I was extremely disappointed in myself and couldn’t help thinking that if I couldn’t even go 31 days without a drink, then something definitely wasn’t right! I needed that glass of wine as much as a smoker needs a cigarette when they’re trying to quit. I was in no way addicted to alcohol BUT it had definitely become too much of a routine in my daily life. Realizing this made me feel uncomfortable.
What prompted me to try it?
What really prompted me to do the detox was the death of my grandmother and great uncle, who both died within months of each other from pancreatic cancer. As well as wanting to be a healthier person, I wanted to honor their passing somehow and raise money for people suffering with the same, sadly terminal form of cancer. Knowing that I accepted the challenge for a good cause helped me avoid that glass of wine after a hellish day at work. In fact, after a while, I lost all interest in drinking alcohol altogether. The cravings I had experienced in the first week or two evaporated into thin air!
What methods do I use?
First of all, to make it easier to avoid alcohol, I always step up my game at the gym. I find that by working out more, I socialize less and therefore avoid social situations with alcohol. I also feel great and lose those pesky glass-of-wine cravings.
Secondly, I organize events with my friends that don’t revolve around drinking. One of my favorite things to do is go bowling. It’s always a fun night out without alcohol!
Lastly, I set myself cooking challenges. I try to cook a new recipe every week, encouraging my brain to focus more on good food and less on empty alcohol calories.
How do I feel?
I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I feel absolutely fantastic at the end of January. I always lose those stubborn extra pounds I have been trying to shed for months and my body feels rejuvenated. I’m less tired, my skin is smoother and mood is better. I feel energized, happy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! It’s almost as if I’ve been on a spa weekend!
However, I’m not saying that Dry January is easy, because it’s not. Trust me when I say that 31 days without a delicious glass of French Chablis is a very, very long time. BUT, what I am saying is that the good outweighs the bad. The benefits of doing dry January for your physical and mental health are astonishing! And even more importantly it’s all for cancer research, a cause that is important to so many of us.
Since I started Dry January three years ago I’ve lost a grandmother, two great uncles and an aunt to cancer and just last year breast cancer also reared its ugly head in my family. Cancer affects so many families nowadays and I can’t stress enough how important I think raising money for cancer research is.
So, you’ve heard my verdict, now why not try Dry January next year or even Go Sober for October later this year and raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support?
Just remember, everyone suffering from cancer and the families that support them are all in need of their very own “Soberhero”.