More exercise, fewer calories and less booze are some of the typical New Year resolutions as we try to be healthier at the start of the New Year.
Last week, we profiled CHFT's new Funball campaign with a focus on exercise. This week, the focus is on cutting down on alcohol.
We all know we should keep an eye on how much we drink, but how many of us really know what a unit of alcohol is? And with so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints – not to mention bottles – it's easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink then the advice is:
- men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
- spread your drinking over three or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
As an example - 14 units is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. You can calculate the number of units you drink here.
Here our Emergency Lead Nurse Janet Youd explains her own special, health reason for embracing Dry January.... and how's she's coping!
Why are you doing Dry January?
I have been an intermittent insomniac all my life. But over the past few months I have found that I can fall asleep with no problem at 10 or 11 pm but then wake up at around 2 or 3 am and find it impossible to switch my brain off until I fall asleep just in time for the alarm at 6 am. I have noticed that if I have more than one glass of wine at home, I wake in the night with feelings of anxiety and dread. My rational brain knows I will feel different in daylight, but it is still horrid at the time.
So sleep was definitely my motivator. It is so important for good health.
As for weight, since losing a significant amount over 15 years ago I have managed to keep it off. But if I do have a drink I stick to wine and spirits - beer has so many calories it is like another meal and I don't really enjoy it.
How much did you used to drink and what was your weakness?
Due to my sleep problems I never really drank huge amounts but then sometimes a single glass could lead to a shared bottle and even a second - especially on a weekend not a work night.
I didn't drink every day but if it had been a long or tough day I felt I deserved a little treat. A glass of wine or a Gin and Slim was also my little treat if I needed to stay up late doing university work or other urgent project work. My go-to tipple was wine but in December I always have a bottle of Advocaat in memory of my Grandma and a glass of sherry with my mince pie in memory of my mum.
Now and again, as a real treat or at the end of a night with friends, I'd have a whisky. Reading this I sound like a proper lush! Actually I just like all food and drink and genuinely I probably drank between 12 and 16 units a week
What’s the best alternative to alcohol you’ve found so far?
I don't like sweet drinks so I've been trying all sorts. I've avoided Coke zero and Coffee after lunch, which are also my go to drinks, in an effort to get more sleep.
I thought I'd try an alcohol-free wine on Friday so that I wouldn't feel like I was missing out. What a mistake.! I wanted the taste of wine without the alcohol, but what I got was grape juice with a flavour of Bramley apples. Not too sweet but would still be ok as breakfast juice. I also tried a sparkling version from Sainsbury's, Nosecco. This actually felt more grown-up and like a little treat. I even had to be over 18 to buy it for some reason. I've experimented with soda water and flavourings: Elderflower and Mint (ok), Grenadine and Lime (too sweet). I am still on the lookout for alternatives....if anyone has any suggestions then get in touch.
What do you do instead if you really fancy a drink?
Try to distract myself with a book or TV programme- and power through it. I will have to watch I'm not tempted by salty snacks. We still have some left from Christmas and it would be easy to pick at them.
Is it nice to wake up without having had a drink the night before?
I never really had hangovers so that wasn't an issue. I'm sleeping better - but not great - though night time anxiety or 'hangxiety' is definitely better and I am hoping it will get better still and have ordered a new mattress now.
How are you/will you keep motivated throughout the whole month? Do you have a strategy?
It is good to tick off 'dry days' on the Dry January App, but the testing time will come when it's our wedding anniversary on the 20th. We will probably go somewhere and I'll drive, then I can't be tempted.
Are your family and colleagues behind you?
My husband is definitely willing me to get better sleep. I might fidget less and when I sleep I don't dig him in the ribs for snoring. Plus a designated driver is a bonus!
We'll catch-up with Janet later this month to see how she goes along.
If you've been inspired you can still get involved in Dry January - just carry it through to February intstead so you can do it for a whole month. Read more about Dry January here.
Plus we have loads of hints and tips for colleagues on Health and Wellbeing at CHFT - and it's part of our Colleague Engagement Calendar in The Cupboard. Take a look at what's happening this year.