5 Reasons to do Dry January
Have you heard of Dry January? It’s the choice to not drink alcohol in the month of January. It’s popular at the start of the new year and also because there’s often a lot of over-imbibing in the November and December months. There’s also “Sober October” so the movement to take breaks from drinking throughout the year is a ‘thing’ these days. There’s a lot of reasons for that and, being Champagne Nutrition, I always celebrate this month with a challenge for my clients and newsletter team (make sure you’re on it, by the way!). Today, I want to break down some of the reasons that taking a break from drinking can bring more balance into your life and allow you to meet your health goals. And if you never drink or this isn’t an issue for you, that’s totally fine! This can still relate to you because really, it’s about reflecting on the new year and your goals. It’s about assessing how different foods, drinks and behaviors fit (or don’t fit) into your life. Here’s my 5 reasons to do Dry January….and/or 5 reasons to make changes you want to make in your life!
Why Champagne if….no Champagne?!
Now, I’m Champagne Nutrition and I always get asked why I chose that name. To be honest, some of it has to do with actual champagne! It’s such a magical beverage. I love wine and I even take classes about it at a local college in hopes of someday becoming a sommelier. There is SO much to learn from the way you make it to the history, the different varieties, the grapes, the growing conditions, the rules and regulations….it’s a lot. If you love science and history and food, it’s the absolute most fascinating thing to study.
The real reason, thought, behind Champagne Nutrition, is the concept of taking that special love and care that we take for creating champagne. If you can apply that amount of attention to your own health and your own goals, that’s what creates real change. It’s also about keeping the foods you enjoy IN. Dietitians for some reason have a reputation of being the “diet police” and restricting what people eat. That couldn’t be further from the truth. So many RDs are ‘anti-diet’, teach intuitive eating and/or use an ‘all foods fit’ approach like me. Of course, we have to take a look at exactly what’s working for you – and what’s not. Perhaps champagne can fit in but sometimes it doesn’t. Each person is so unique, there’s no one diet or one approach that’s guaranteed to work.
This is one reason that I use nutrigenomics in my practice now more than ever, to get that deep layer of personalization and hard evidence that helps guide the changes you’ll make. I love not guessing about what someone should do. My clients love it, too. One of the best things that comes from the genomics report is the huge handout that you get that breaks down all the different genes we test that influence food and exercise recommendations specifically for you. You’ll have it as a reference forever and very often, my clients share it with their doctors and other providers and it helps shape recommendations for their health across the board. If this is intriguing to you, and I really hope it is, reach out to me to chat more about how it could help you!
There are a lot of reasons to do Dry January, however – taking a break from alcohol completely if it’s part of your life. If you don’t drink or you’re not looking to take a break, sometimes this extends to other foods that you want to explore your relationship with. Maybe it’s coffee or caffeine. Perhaps it’s baked goods or candy. Maybe you’re intolerant to gluten or another food but it’s been creeping back into your diet and you need a reset…there’s a lot of reasons to tackle a Dry January-type of challenge. And I’m here to help! I send weekly newsletters for support and I’m running live support on my Facebook and Instagram all month long. It’s absolutely not too late to join so if you’re reading this and it’s January.
5 Reasons to do Dry January
There are a lot of reasons, my friends, more than 5 so I want to hear in the comments what the biggest reasons for YOU are. But here are mine. These are both the 5 Reasons to do Dry January that I notice in myself as well as the top reasons that show up in my client’s reports and in the research as well. I definitely want to know what you think.
- Support Natural Detoxification: So, let’s just be honest. Alcohol is a toxin to the body. This is the reason for hangovers and why the body is so focused on getting rid of alcohol above all else when you’re drinking (aka: storing all other substances as fat – more below). Once your liver is relieved of its duty to focus on metabolizing alcohol, it’s more free to do any healing it needs to do, to detoxify other substances that it may need to in the body, and to work on burning fat properly in the body. Dry January gives the liver – and the body – a little break to heal.
- Improved Sleep: I have to use a personal story on this one! I track my sleep with Fitbit every night – and have for years. I’m not the best sleeper and I average 6-7 hours per night and my sleep “score” is very often ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ – per Fitbit. Of course, tools like these trackers aren’t perfect science but I do feel that for me, it’s pretty accurate and provides helpful info. If you’re intrigued by tracking tools, I have a post about them up on the blog. When I do Dry January, I notice an immediate sleep improvement – all nights are over 7. And my sleep score is “good” most of the time. Don’t just take my word for it – one person’s experience is interesting but can’t shape what you, as a unique individual, will change. There are a lot of studies about the science of why alcohol disrupts sleep. Tell me in the comments – do you experience that, too?
- Changes to your Weight: Alcohol is such a unique food. It absorbs straight through the stomach unlike all other foods you eat. It heads straight on over to the liver which starts working immediately on clearing it from the system. In the meantime, the liver puts metabolizing other foods on hold and stores them as fat instead while it’s working on the alcohol part. Everyone is different and a lot of this depends on genetics, sex, body size and more, but some people will react strongly to alcohol regarding their weight. For some of my clients, they notice a huge difference when they’re drinking and when they’re not. Alcohol provides a lot of calories – 7 per gram compared to 4 per gram in carbohydrates and protein – so it adds up quickly.For others, alcohol can take the place of food, causing the body to be below a healthy weight. This happens especially in alcohol abuse and more serious use disorders. Whether alcohol is messing with your natural body weight – pushing it up or dragging it down, if these are concerns for you, it may be time to take a little break.
- Mood Stabilization: Things are tough right now. We’re post holidays and things in the country and the world are stressful (understatement). I’m hearing people left and right abandoning Dry January because they want to drink wine or a cocktail to help cope with the emotional stress. I’m hearing friends and clients tell me that they’re feeling very depressed or anxious. But listen team, drinking actually makes it worse. Alcohol is a depressant and there are some studies that show that people with depressive symptoms often drink to cope. If this could be you, it’s time to take a break and consider other coping strategies: therapy, a support group, meditation, exercise, or whatever else you need!
- More Energy: If you over-imbibe here and there (or regularly), you may notice that your energy is zapped a lot of the time. This is a compounding situation. Alcohol is a toxin so it can make you feel dehydrated and sick the next day. It disrupts your sleep so you may feel tired, wanting to lie down or take a nap the next day. It also can really disrupt your eating patterns, causing cravings and increased intake the next day (a really interesting article here on that!), so that can make things even worse as far as energy. I notice a significant spike in energy when I do Dry January. Do you?
A Little More Motivation?
Do you have any other reason to add to my 5 Reasons to do Dry January? If you’re ready to jump in, let’s DO this! Sign up here so I can send you my tips, tools, recipes and weekly support.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.