As I have mentioned in a few of my previous posts, I was recently out of town on a business trip. The conference I was attending was a fantastic experience in which I was able to reconnect with quite a few business colleagues who I absolutely adore. Some of the best connections happened over a beer or two (or, lets be honest, five). I realized that there is no fooling my body into thinking it is still 22 years old. I cannot drink like I used to. Nor should I. Nor do I want to!
I will say that I’ve been noticing this change over the past year or so, and since going Vegan I have noticed LESS of a change. Yes, that’s right. I have certainly cut back on my drinking over the past few months, so you would think that my tolerance would be way down. But I actually didn’t feel the effects of the alcohol nearly as much as I feared I would during this trip. I didn’t have the desire to drink as much as I used to, but I think that all the detoxifying veggies I have been pumping through my body have freshened up my liver. It’s only a theory, but I am also guessing that since my body doesn’t have to work as hard to detox processed foods and unhealthy fats, it probably is more willing to deal with the processing of alcohol. Again, just a theory, but it makes sense to me.
Anyways, back to the point. Just because I didn’t hurt tragically after drinking, when I finally made it home again I decided it would be a good time to try a “dry month” for the first time in my life. Close friends are gasping in shock right now because the idea of Monique giving up alcohol is more ludicrous than the idea of her giving up cheese ever was, and people were plenty shocked at my transition to Veganism. I am slightly shamed to admit that I have peer pressured against dry months! But, here I go, eliminating something else from my regular routine because I just feel too great to compromise the good thing I have going!
So, I’m on a dry February. I’ve giving myself permission to break the fast under 2 circumstances:
- if a really promising first date happens sometime during the month
- if a business dinner comes up
Neither of those situations are likely to happen but, rather than feel totally guilty if they do, I’d rather give myself permission to be human under extenuating circumstances.
Aside from giving myself a challenge and knowing that I feel more clear-headed, motivated and healthy when I don’t drink, there are some scientifically backed reasons why I think it is a good idea to take a bit of a break. I just want to clarify that I am not a crazy drinker, though I realize it may sound like I am. I really enjoy beer and I really enjoy wine. For a while I was having one or the other pretty much every day, though usually only one drink. Over the past 6 months or so I’ve cut back to drinking only once a week, if even. At any social event I wouldn’t hesitate to knock a few back, but as social as I am, I don’t do events more than once a week or so. I usually prefer to go for walks with my pup, or chill with a friend over coffee, for example.
Always, humans have been drinking alcohol for at least 10,000 years and it is fairly well accepted these days that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol is actually good for a body. For example, some studies have shown that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is good for circulation and for the heart and may even protect against gallstones, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Other studies have also looked at the effects on HDL cholesterol. You may be wondering, then, what is considered moderate alcohol consumption?
For women, no more than one alcoholic beverage per day is recommended, while men can consume two alcoholic beverages per day for the same healthy results. One drink is about 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of bear or about 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Any more than these amounts and the negative effects over power the positive.
The negative effects of alcohol are much more important to consider than the positive effects, in my opinion, because all of the positives can also be achieved through a healthy eating plan and regular exercise. Too much alcohol consumption, however, can lead to a variety of problems, including but not limited to:
- Liver damage and cirrhosis
- Heart damage
- Birth defects
- Some forms of cancers
- Drinking and driving
- Uncontrollable behaviour and poor judgement
If you live a healthy lifestyle and drink alcohol in moderation, or socially, you are probably not doing too much harm to your body. But if you find yourself drinking more than one or two drinks (for men) every day, you may want to consider why you are drinking. Often the reason behind the consumption is more damaging than the alcohol, and getting to the root of the behaviour will help solve all sorts of complications in your life!
I know that I personally feel better when I don’t drink, even in moderation. It almost hurts me to admit this, but it’s true. I don’t anticipate giving up alcohol for the rest of my life, but I do like the idea of a one month challenge. So please, wish me luck, and share any thoughts, suggestions or words of wisdom in the comments section below!