Tuesday, January 28, 2014
How I Became A Non-Drinker
I wasn’t sure whether I would talk about this on my blog because I didn’t want to come across as preachy. We all make our own decisions in life and I don’t want to presume to influence yours, however I have been asked to elaborate on being a non-drinker and am happy to do so.
I think there are a lot of very normal people out there who are not happy with the way they think about drink. I know I wasn’t.
Never in a million years would I have considered myself to have a drinking problem or need to go to AA (I still don't), however I would jokingly say I was concerned at how much I looked forward to a glass of Chardonnay, brandy and dry or g&t when I got home.
I also did not like the fact that these drinks helped me keep me just that little bit fatter than I would have liked. This is due to the fact that alcohol is highly calorific being worse than pure sugar, plus you might add mixers (choose your poison – sugar or artificial sweeteners). AND a drink seems to include snacks for me.
So I had a love/hate relationship with my cocktail hour. Love the chance to sit down with a magazine or book, hate the fact that my evening drink(s) were making me unproductive with a dumpy figure.
It all started a couple of years ago in a conversation with one of our sales reps who was pregnant. She told me she was so glad she had given up smoking a few years earlier, as it would have been harder to do once she found out she was pregnant. I asked her how she did it and she said she read the Allen Carr book which completely cured her instantly and she’d never thought about it since.
At the time I remember thinking, I’m sure he has also written a book about dieting, maybe I’ll look it up at the library. When I was doing this, I saw he had another interesting title called ‘No More Hangovers’. I requested them both, and picked them up next time I was in at the library.
Even though I initially wanted the diet book, I ended up reading No More Hangovers first. Because it is a tiny book and very simply written, it didn’t take long. A few hours later I remember putting the book down and thinking to myself ‘well, I won’t be drinking alcohol again’.
I never dreamed that that would be the case, but at this stage it is. I read the book in May 2012 and haven’t so much as desired a single sip of alcohol since. I don’t really know how this happened and if I ever want to drink again I certainly will, but I just don’t want to. It doesn’t bother me being around other people drinking and I always, always have a few deep sniffs of a good wine and can really appreciate the bouquet.
I felt like I had to apologise to my husband for ditching him as a ‘drinking partner’ as we used to enjoy a nice wine together. He says he is fine with it and we have an honest enough relationship that I believe him. He reckons it doesn’t bother him in the slightest that I do not drink and even said it has helped him cut back too which he feels better for. On nights when one of us might have poured a drink out of habit, he doesn’t. Now he only has wine on the weekends (we would have had drinks 3-5 nights per week before) and the occasional cold beer in summer.
Last Christmas we holidayed in my native Hawke’s Bay which is very much wine country. I was the happiest person around being the chauffeur showing off our beautiful vineyards while my husband sipped. It really was as much fun for me even though I never tasted a drop.
I do miss the taste of my favourite wine varietals don't get me wrong, however I don’t want the feeling that comes with drinking now. I have tried de-alcoholised wine but it doesn’t bear much resemblance at all.
So what are my new tipples?
If I am in a bar or restaurant after work and want a pick-me-up, for a one-off treat I might order a Red Bull, which I agree isn’t very chic sounding, and I always ask for it to be served in a flute. It is a golden colour and looks just like champagne!
In a more casual bar I might order a ginger beer. In Hawaii most bars and restaurants had an alcohol-free beer option – St Pauli and Becks, both German. To me they taste just like normal beer and it’s nice not to feel like a kid with a glass of Coke.
I also never feel ‘apart’ from the drinkers if it’s a group of us. Strangely enough I often feel a bit happy along with everyone else later on, as though I’ve had a few drinks. But I’m just getting into the spirit of things!
We still have cocktail hour at home too. I usually keep in the fridge:
- Diet Coke in a can (I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners but I don’t want to drink sugar. I buy it in cans so I can have a single portion and it’s always fizzy).
- Mini bottles of Perrier with Lime or Lemon flavouring (expensive but a yummy and stylish treat).
I serve both the Diet Coke or Perrier in a flute. It feels more special and I sip it slowly, rather than gulp if it was in a big glass. I heard once that apparently French girls called Diet Coke 'Champagne Noir' which probably gave me the idea, impressionable consumer that I am!
- Clausthaler German beer which is 0.5% (classed as alcohol-free) (usually from the bottle on a hot day).
I have any of these and now limit my snacks (cheese and crackers or a little bowl of potato chips) to the weekend. We have our dinner earlier on weeknights and the combination of all these things has helped me to become more svelte. Plus I enjoy my dinner much more not having had snacks beforehand.
If I am going somewhere I might take a few Clausthaler beers, or for a more formal occasion a large bottle of Perrier to have by itself or mix with sparkling grape juice. Always out of a champagne flute of course.
I have had many ask if I am pregnant (no) and look at me strangely (I have learned to live with that). Sometimes I say I am the designated driver, and sometimes that ‘I am on a health kick’ and it seems to satisfy people. Once you turn down a drink most people want you to have one more than ever.
Really, I can’t even tell you have good I feel. My body (and mind) is so happy. I dropped 2-4 kg without even trying. I never wake up seedy anymore. At my age even one glass of wine could affect my sleep and have me feeling below par in the morning. And if you have a ‘fun’ night where you ‘let go’, the next day is a guarantee of poor quality eating (at least it was for me) because you feel so rotten.
And it’s all down to Allen Carr’s book plus, I suppose, my underlying wish to not be beholden to alcohol. I feel so grateful that alcohol no longer has a pull over me. I never hear it calling my name and can walk past any display at the supermarket. I just know ‘it’s not for me’ anymore and that is my wish, not something I am ‘trying to stick to’.
My sister who has two young children, read the No More Hangovers book a month after I did and the same thing happened to her. She is an ecstatic non-drinker now. Like me, she used to worry about how much she looked forward to her evening drink, even if she didn’t drink that much.
I’ve probably said enough by now, but if you have any questions I’d be glad to answer them!
Update 31 August 2015: Still a super-happy non-drinker and I'm not even tempted. I heard recently that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. And that's how I feel about alcoholic drinks, I'm indifferent to them. But I still don't know how this one little book worked its magic on me, I'm just glad it did :)