by Shannon Crane, Media & Communications Adviser

Two wine glasses, one filled with red wine and the other white

Alcohol is a treat I’ve always found an excuse for.

“It’s been such a stressful day, I deserve a drink.”
“It’s [insert name]’s birthday, I need a drink to celebrate.”
“[insert name] is visiting from interstate, I have to have a drink with them.”
“I’m going to [insert event] and I won’t know anyone so I need to drink to feel comfortable.”
“[insert name] got a new job/house/engaged/married, it would be rude not to drink with them.”
“It’s Easter/Christmas/New Year, it would be wrong not to drink.”

My excuses could go on forever. But having turned 30 earlier this year, my body unfortunately can’t.

There was a time when a big night out would cause minimal suffering the next day. Nowadays, even just one or two drinks can leave me wanting to stay in bed all day and eat bags and bags of salt and vinegar chips.

And now that I understand the long-term health risks associated with alcohol – and its high kilojoule content – there’s no excuse for not making some healthy changes to my drinking habits and my lifestyle in general.

Over the past few months I’ve made a conscious effort to cut back on the booze and embrace a life without beer goggles, greasy kebabs and hangovers.

Here are just some of the things I’ve learnt so far:

1. Eating healthy and exercising are easier without alcohol. All too often booze ruins even the best of intentions when it comes to those very important health goals. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are much more achievable without a foggy head.

2. Your social life can survive (and thrive) without alcohol. Drinking with friends had become such a big part of my social life, so I feared that taking away the booze would jeopardise some of my friendships. This didn’t happen.

3. I had a wine with dinner habit. On top of all my drinking celebrations/commiserations/ congratulations I was reaching for that glass of wine (or two or three) with dinner out of habit, rather than because I actually wanted it. Now before I pour I question whether it’s worthwhile, and most of the time it’s not.

4. Facing the facts on the health impacts of drinking is a huge motivator to cut back. Did you know that drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer, oesophageal cancer, bowel cancer, liver cancer and female breast cancer? It’s scary stuff.

5. Recording your alcohol intake helps keep you honest. Seeing how much you’ve drunk over a week or month has been the wake-up call I needed. The Hello Sunday Morning app is a great place to start.

6. Not drinking is no big deal. When I first started cutting back I was worried what people would say or think, but in most situations, others rarely notice you’re sipping on water instead of wine… unless you make a song and dance about it. Then they’ll notice!

7. I get a much better night’s sleep without alcohol. No tossing and turning. No waking up with a dry mouth. Just deep, restful sleep.

8. Most of us are in the same boat when it comes to alcohol. Talking about my new found love of a sober life has made me realise I’m not the only one who is trying to give up the grog. And the support of others can make a huge difference.

Learn more about how cutting back on alcohol can make a difference to your lifestyle on the LiveLighter website.