There’s been much chat recently in the media about the rise in lockdown drinking. Sales of alcoholic beverages have sky rocketed whilst we have been trapped in our homes. Having a lovely glass of your favourite tipple may help the hours pass by, but have you actually stopped to think what it’s doing to your health? Well, we need to face facts if we’re to continue to stay fit after 50.
It’s a really British thing isn’t it to have a few too many drinks with a friend, get a little tipsy and be a bit silly. You won’t recall many French or Italian women having one too many drinks will you? More likely that you imagine them demurely sitting in a sophisticated café making an Aperol spritz or a Campari last all evening.
It’s generally because it’s become acceptable behaviour in the UK to drink as much as you like really, within reason.
However, as we know, the safe drinking guidelines are actually quite minimal. Six medium glasses of wine a week for women and six pints of beer a week for men. Ask yourself though, do you actually stick to these safe drinking limits? Or are you the one that opens a bottle of wine and gradually makes your way through it during a long evening?
There a several scientists and academics who don’t agree that there is a safe drinking limit at all and who point out the very negative affects of drinking too much alcohol: weight gain, skin problems, liver disease, stomach problems, memory issues, lethargy, adverse effects on menopause, to say nothing of hangovers.
As we age, our bodies cannot metabolise alcohol as they once did. Alcohol is actually a poison in the body that the liver works hard to excrete. And did you know that when the body is burning alcohol it can’t burn fat.
I’m writing this as a 56 year old woman who stopped drinking alcohol completely six months ago and has never felt better. No I’m not the alcohol police and I don’t mind at all anyone having a drink. I was just sick of the feeling of lethargy after a few glasses of wine the night before. In the first lockdown the weather was wonderful and I was in the garden most of the time when I wasn’t working. The daily G&T began to be consumed a little earlier each day, followed by a bottle of rose wine with the BBQ. Gosh do you remember those days of the first lockdown? When we clapped for the NHS and watched Captain Tom (RIP our nation’s hero) – they seem so far away…
My husband and I managed a trip, between lockdowns, to France to visit friends in Normandy last July. We walked along the stunning beaches of Normandy and took in the wonderful climate, history and cuisine of that area. Every day we would have a wonderful lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, then dinner in the evening would be at some lovely farmhouse or chateaux or a BBQ in the garden – where more wine was consumed.
I remember coming home from that trip having thoroughly enjoyed it but feeling so utterly bloated and lethargic. The day after I just stopped drinking and I’ve never had one since, and really don’t miss it at all.
I’m a girl of the 80’s wine bars and discos, whereby it became normal for women to meet up and drink alcohol with no limits or units ever mentioned. Prior to that I can only recall women having a small sherry at social gatherings – it just wasn’t the done thing for women to drink large quantities of alcohol.
I think it took a while for me to decide to stop drinking completely. It just didn’t make me feel good anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my years of merriment and drinking. However as they say, “When the fun stops, stop!” and so I did.
So wherever you are with your drinking, just pause for a minute and be really truthful with yourself. Ask yourself “Am I drinking too much? Is my level of drinking good for my health? Am I really enjoying it?”
Just consider some of the benefits of quitting alcohol for a while: clearer skin, weight reduction, more energy, better sleep, sharper memory…
Filling the void alcohol leaves is important. I’ve personally never read so many books in my life and have embraced knitting! So far in the last six months I’ve knitted two large ponchos, two cardigans and three bobble hats! Who would have thought! LOL.
I’ve also come across some wonderful non-alcoholic versions of my favourite drinks such as Seedlip who make wonderful botanical gins and Thomson & Scott who make delicious non-alcoholic prosecco and sparkling wine.
So be kind too yourself. Think about your health and let’s get through these next few weeks by being as healthy as possible. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to emerge from our chrysalises as beautiful butterflies!
If you are concerned about your drinking habits or you want more information, you might like to see what the NHS website or The Sober Club has to say. Or you might find The Sober Diaries interesting; it’s a wonderful book written by Clare Pooley about her relationship with alcohol.
Keep going everyone. Best wishes, Lesley