Your glass of wine or snifter of scotch to smooth out the edges of a rough day has turned into every day’s a rough day. Maybe you’ve noticed a few more pounds on the scale yet you aren’t eating more or exercising less. Over consuming alcohol can lead to some unwanted outcomes. Even though it can be tough, the benefits of taking a break from alcohol can be well worth the effort.
Dr. Damon Raskin, a board certified addiction medical doctor, says, “Taking a break from drinking alcohol, even if it is just for a few weeks, is a good idea, especially if you are regularly consuming more than the recommended daily limit.” Which is about two drinks a day for men.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect giving up alcohol:
First and foremost, you’ll start losing weight.
Not many people think about calories when they think about going out for a few drinks.
When it comes to cocktails, the extra calories are mainly in the sugary additives - sweet and sour mix, cherry juice, or other mixes. A Margarita special of the day can have upwards of 400 calories per 16 ounces alone. A nice IPA beer can have upwards of 210 calories per 12 ounces. Those calories can add up fast!
On a standard night out, a person can add an extra 500-600 calories without much effort. A few weeks of water with a lime or lemon slice instead will shed 2-3 lbs with minimal effort.
You’ll sleep more soundly.
One recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain-a kind of cerebral activity that usually occurs when you’re awake but resting.
The result? Disrupted sleep.
Another review of 27 studies found that even though alcohol helps you fall into a deep sleep fast, it messes with the quality of your sleep the rest of the night. Which is why you wake up groggy and, well, more hungover. After a few days of tossing and turning for people that go to sleep more frequently after a few drinks, your sleep will even out and you will feel more refreshed and alert during daytime hours.
The byproducts of better sleep: improved mood, concentration, and mental performance, Dr. Raskin says.
You’ll have more money.
Self-explanatory here. Take the money you save from not buying alcohol and add it to your 401K, or pay off some bills. Your checking account will thank you!
Your skin will clear up.
Within a few days of cutting out booze, you’ll notice your skin looking and feeling more hydrated.
That’s because alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to urinate more, Dr. Raskin says.
Alcohol also decreases the body’s production of an anti-diuretic hormone, which helps the body reabsorb water. (Less water in the body equals dry-looking skin.)
Ruddiness in your cheeks and around your nose may also start to fade, and other skin conditions-such as dandruff, eczema, or rosacea-may also improve, Dr. Raskin says.
With winter dryness exacerbating the issue, now is the best time to lock that liquor cabinet and lose the key for awhile.
Your mood will become more level with less highs and lows.
It’s important to understand that there will be times when you feel like you’re missing out-and it can make you pretty testy, Dr. Raskin says.
“People often use alcohol as a lubricant for emotions, and when they stop drinking they may feel agitated and restless,” he adds.
Your cancer risk falls, but your heart disease risk might rise.
According to the National Cancer Institute, alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk for cancers of the mouth, liver, colon, and rectum. It’s quite simple - the more you drink, the higher the risk.
On the other hand, multiple studies have shown moderate alcohol consumption may lower your odds of heart trouble. One glass of red wine a few times a week can help.
Every year, from Mardi Gras to Easter (essentially Lent in the Catholic sphere), I cut my alcohol intake 95%. I do have a few on St. Patrick’s Day and a glass of wine on Easter. I lose about 6 lbs and feel much more fresh and alert. If you like to drink, there is no good time in the year to quit for awhile, you just have to decide and do it. Let me know how it goes!
Victor Geraci is a certified health coach and can help you get on the road, and stay on the road, to better health. Call for a free consultation.