The surprising benefits of sobriety
If you want a mood booster that may help you manage your weight too, it could be time to give sobriety a try.
Going without alcohol for a period of time or as a lifestyle choice can be a gift to your health that just keeps giving.
Bupa GP Dr Gillian Rawlings says that cutting down your alcohol consumption can help you shed unwanted kilos.
The most obvious reason for this is the high amount of sugar and kilojoules in alcoholic drinks.
Australian government guidelines define a ‘standard’ drink as containing 10 grams of alcohol, which is equal to about 290kJ. Serves of alcohol you pour yourself or buy while out often exceed the standard. One stubbie of full strength beer or two glasses of wine each contain about 600Kj.
Dr Rawlings says another reason we lose weight with sobriety is because consuming alcohol can lead to “poor impulse control”. This can result in you choosing food options high in sugar and/or fat that you would normally resist.
“You are also likely to sleep better without the sugar in your system, and many people report having more energy and motivation for exercise when not drinking, which also promotes weight loss.”
Sobriety can also result in benefits for those living with sleep apnoea, high blood pressure or reflux. Dr Rawlings has seen improved blood pressure results in as little as a week in some patients who stopped drinking.
A happier life
Gaining greater control over your life is another surprising benefit of sobriety for many people.
Dr Rawlings asks about alcohol intake during consultations with new patients and has noted quite a few men aged in their 40s choosing sobriety as a way of achieving a happier life.
“When I’ve asked why they stopped drinking or don’t drink, I’ve heard responses such as, ‘I lost my first marriage to alcohol I don’t want to lose my second.’ A couple have said they lost a job due to alcohol abuse or nearly lost a job, and some lost a father at an early age due to his alcohol abuse.”
Choosing a life without alcohol for these patients resulted in “improved work capacity, clarity of thinking compared to their colleagues who do drink, and better family and work relationships”.
Sobriety: An action plan
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Dr Rawlings says those considering sobriety should talk to their GP for tips and support.
“Talking to your GP is a really good place to start as he or she can help tailor a plan just for you.”
Dr Rawlings also suggests people set a short-term goal to maximise their chances of success. Consider keeping a ‘drinking diary’ before you start cutting back on alcohol, it will help you keep track of your personal results.
Finally, as with smoking, Dr Rawlings suggests those considering sobriety don’t talk in terms of giving something up, but rather focus on what they will likely gain – better health!