Here’s how to make it through Dry January

It's a good idea to take part in Dry January if you've done quite a bit of drinking over the holidays, experts say. Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Some people are choosing to focus on their finances, while others vow to spend more time at the gym.

As January unfolds, those choosing to take part in Dry January are in full swing with their New Year’s resolution – and they might be struggling already.

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It can be tough for both casual and heavy drinkers to go dry for 31 days, especially if you’re used to having a drink in your hand when you’re out socializing with family and friends.

And while there may be a moment of weakness and your efforts seem futile or not worth it, just remember you’re doing your body a favour.

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“In my opinion taking part in Dry January is probably most useful for those who regularly push the low risk drinking guideline limits, which is no more than 15 standard drinks weekly for men, and 10 for women, where a standard drink is a 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine or 1.5 oz of liquor,” said Andy De Santis, a registered dietician. “While moderate alcohol intake below these levels could offer some health benefits to some people ( ie: cardiovascular health), regularly drinking beyond these limits may put your long term health at risk.”

Your liver, he explains, is responsible for breaking down the alcohol you drink. Regular drinkers build a level of tolerance to alcohol and your liver adapts to your alcohol intake to a certain extent, which means it could take a greater amount of alcohol to feel the same effect.

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And although your liver can adapt to a certain extent, De Santis says excessive alcohol intake over time puts a strain and ultimately hurts your liver. This then increases your risk of liver disease or damage in the long-term.

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When we drink alcohol, our livers can’t regulate the metabolism normally, registered dietitian Tristaca Curley explains, and the body shift to producing excess fatty acids. This causes fat tissue to build up in the liver, which could eventually lead to a condition called “fatty liver” or even cirrhosis.

“This fatty buildup happens after even one night of heavy drinking,” Curley points out. “Often, the holidays are accompanied by several celebrations including alcohol. By the end of the holidays, this fatty buildup in our liver can be significant and can interfere with metabolism and nutrient absorption. But it can be reversed with abstinence from alcohol. So January provides a perfect time to allow the liver a chance to heal.”

So even if you decide to go through with Dry January, there’s no need to feel left out of post-holiday get-togethers and nights out.

Here are some ways, tips and tricks to help you get through those tough times in the dead of Dry January.

Order virgin drinks

If you’re going out with friends, ask the bartender to make the virgin edition of your favourite drink. Or if you’re at a friend’s place, look up some mocktail recipes. You may not feel the effects of alcohol like your friends, but you can still have fun without the booze. After all, being with your friends is about enjoying their company.

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Find a new hobby

If you would rather avoid the night-out scene altogether, try keeping yourself busy with a new hobby. Tap into your interests and see what’s out there. This could be the kick you need to finally try that ballroom dance class you’ve been thinking about. It’s also a great way to meet new friends.

Get active

Don’t just stop at cutting out alcohol — get moving. Find a sports league or recreational league to be a part of and play your favourite sport once or twice a week. Go skiing or running, up your visits to the gym or sign up for a spin class. Your body will thank you.

Find a friend

You don’t have to go through Dry January alone. Ask friends to take part in it with you. You might not get all of your friends to go along, but chances are one or two of them might. Organize fun nights in and whip up some mocktails. Having friends along for the ride will motivate you.

Reward yourself

Drinking is expensive, so you’ll be surprised at how much money you’re saving this month. With all this new-found disposable income, there are many things you can do with it – so treat yourself. Take a friend out for dinner or a movie. They’ll be thankful for the treat and you’ll feel great about doing something nice for them.

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