We know January is never the time to say CYA to alcohol or break up with sugar. We all damn deserved a bit of fun in Jan, but you’re likely feelin’ "bleurgh" right about now. Which is why you might be wanting to avoid alcohol altogether or may just need a month off the booze.
To make the booze-break official, many people are undertaking Feb Fast this month, to give up alcohol (or sugar) in an effort to raise funds for young people experiencing serious disadvantage to access the resources and support they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
If you are one of the 'Feb Fasters' this month, we've got our Remedy Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill to share her advice for what to avoid and what to increase to support your sober stretch.
Booze isn't the only thing you should avoid...
Whilst avoiding alcohol may be your main focus, look out for other dietary and lifestyle culprits that give you highs and lows too, as people often find themselves relying on one to reduce the effect of the other or eliminating one and replacing it for another.
Aim to reduce your intake of:
Alcohol – and beware of liquor-infused chocolates, boozy custard or what might seem a harmless punch on the drinks table at a party. It's okay to be straight-up with friends, family and colleagues about having a breather from booze. When you do, more people look out for you and can give you a heads up when there's a food or drink that might have a little nip of it. You never know who may come on board with you either!
Caffeine - During this period it's helpful to try to reduce your intake of caffeine and set up some positive habits. You may find reducing caffeine actually isn't as difficult as it first seems when you're off the booze, too. A respite from alcohol will leave you feeling far more energised each day and less likely to want/need that coffee hit first thing after a night out. Reducing caffeine supports our health by reducing the load on our adrenals (responsible for releasing adrenaline and regulating our stress response) and the digestive system too — it's all a win!
Alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars all have a similar effect on the brain's reward centre, stimulating the release of dopamine, also known as the feel-good hormone. Whilst it might seem okay to have an extra cheeky sweet treat while abstaining from alcohol, this action can create a new habit or addictive behaviour that too can be hard to break in the long term. Aim to reduce refined sugars by temporarily avoiding items like cakes, pastries, chocolates, lollies, ice blocks, and sugar-sweetened beverages. The list goes on, but these are a great start!
Aim to increase the intake of:
So you've paired things back with booze, maybe with caffeine and sugars too. Now to support and replenish the body so you're fighting fit for the year ahead.
Water and herbal teas - Most of us can do with an increase in water intake. Water is one of the simplest ways to create change in our bodies because it energises our cells and supports the body's natural detoxification pathways.
Immune and gut supportive beverages in place of inflammatory ones - Caffeine and alcohol can be considered disruptive not only to our adrenals, energy and hormonal balance but also to our gut. Stock up on fermented goodness to improve your gut health with live cultured beverages such as Remedy Kombucha, which don't contain any sugar thanks to their long-aged fermentation process, but also aid digestion by balancing out bad bacteria with lots of all-natural good stuff, thanks to its live cultures, organic acids and antioxidants.
Vegetables and some fruit - Focus on increasing your vegetable intake including some starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, beetroot and pumpkin to sustain you.
Healthy fats - Fats work in many wondrous ways, healthy fats (nuts seeds, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel) offer essential nutrients to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system, improve cognition, to support the slow release of energy into our bodies by reducing the glycaemic load of our meals AND they improve satiety. If you've been eating heavy carbohydrate meals and wonder why you still feel hungry an hour later, it may be because the fat content necessary to keep you full just wasn't there.