You say you want a resolution?

We're all under pressure to cut back in January. Siobhan Hewison outlines some ideas for keeping a healthier relationship with booze all year round

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It’s January 1st and you’re praying for the cool, non-judgmental embrace of death. Your moral and chemical excesses of the previous night are merely the climax of ten days of over-eating, over-drinking and generally over-consuming along with everyone else you know. But it’s 2019 now – chance to make a symbolic change in your lifestyle. This will be the year to run a marathon, learn the piano, remember to feed your fish. And, by God, it will start with giving up booze for a month. 

Of course, if you want to do the whole Dry-anuary thing, we’re not going to judge you (unlike growing a moustache for November, abstaining from booze won’t make you look like a ‘70s sex pest). But honestly, if you spend the entire month gritting your teeth and crossing days off a wall planner, then go absolutely mental until the New Year’s festival of self-recrimination rolls round again, the only thing you’ll have proven is that you’re an alcoholic with willpower. 

If you’re serious about developing a healthier relationship with drinking in 2019, it’s far better to take an honest look at your alcohol intake and establish some realistic, sustainable year-round goals and habits. Here are our suggestions:

Keep a record of how much you’re drinking

Those units mount up quickly, and could be a real wake-up call.

Limit potential triggers

If you’ve had a stressful day, do you automatically reach for a cheap lager to relax? Then don’t keep a stock of second-rate beers in your fridge. Try instead to develop a new routine, such as drinking a quality soda or tea instead. Do you have that one friend or work colleague whose ‘just one drink’ inevitably turns into five, followed by a greasy kebab? Tell them about your plans, and cut back on time spent with them. Stand up to peer pressure! 

Designate some days of the week as ‘alcohol-free’

This might be difficult to adjust to at first, so you could start by substituting beers for alcohol-free brews. Bonus: the more you do this the more you’ll appreciate what a novelty it is to wake up hangover-free, so it’s likely to become habit quite easily. On boozy days, stick to only drinking with dinner, or limiting yourself to one or two post-dinner drinks. Buy a few premium craft brews for the week, and savour them as you sink into your sofa.

Bow out of rounds at the pub

Sounds antisocial, but it means you can keep a slower pace than your boozehound friends, and keep in control money-wise. 

Plan

If you’re the nerdy, organised type, make a plan for how much you’ll drink on a night out and set a budget for yourself. It’s also useful to space out your drinks with a nice premium soft drink or a boring pint of water if you’re out for the long haul. 

Pay attention to what you’re drinking

Try sticking to low-ABV beers instead of that 13% imperial barrel-aged stout. Or, go for halves or thirds instead of pints - this also brings the hipster benefit of being able to try a wider variety of beers, which will do wonders for your Untappd profile. 

Start eating dinner before you go out

This way you’ll end up heading out later and spending less time drinking, and you’ll know you’ve eaten something to hopefully stave off that sore head tomorrow. No, a munchie box doesn’t count.

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