Dry, Red, Veganuary or Tryanuary?

Living in a different country means to get to know new habits and peculiarities. January challenges are a big thing here in the UK. The new year detox has become an annual tradition in the UK, over 4 million every year take on alone the challenge to gave up alcohol for a month. The challenge named Dry January has been endorsed by Cancer Research UK and Alcohol Change UK.

In the UK, the official name “Dry January” has only been around for a few years – Alcohol Change UK, registered it as a trademark in 2014. The following January, the government ran an ad campaign endorsing the event. The idea of cleansing after a boozy Christmas goes back much further, however. In 1942, Finland instigated a programme called Raitis tammikuu (Sober January) to help aid the war effort against the Soviet Union.

You can either simply stop drinking alcohol for a month or you can register on a website or download an app to get support and valuable tips for those who need a little help staying on the wagon, include going on long walks, taking up a hobby or trying a non-alcoholic version of your favorite drink. I like especially the last one… at the moment the aisles in the grocery stores are full with alcohol free beer, alcohol free cider, alcohol free white, red and rose wine, alcohol free mojito, alcohol free gin and alcohol free champagne. But is it the whole pain really worth?

The benefits of Dry January are the subject of an ongoing debate among doctors and scientists. Alcohol Change UK says that in 2018, “88% of participants saved money, 71% had better sleep and more energy, and 58% lost weight”. A study by University College London examined 94 moderate drinkers over the course of a month as they cut their alcohol consumption. After 30 days, the subject’s insulin resistance improved, along with “weight, BP, and cancer-related growth factors”, according to the conclusion of the study. “We found striking benefits from a month of abstinence, in these otherwise healthy volunteers,” says the study’s lead researcher, Dr Gautam Mehta. “The change in insulin resistance in particular was large, around 25%.”

But in the opinion of Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health and addiction at the University of York are those who enjoy success with Dry January not accurately represent problem drinkers. “The millions of people who sign up to it are the millions of people who probably don’t have a great problem with alcohol so they find it relatively easy,” he said. He added that it is inadvisable for dependent drinkers to give up alcohol abruptly, since it could result in side-effects ranging from headaches to convulsions.

We did it, without app, without alcohol free replacement drinks and with our normal daily schedule. Better sleep? Not really when swim practice starts to unearthly hours and you still have from time to time a kid in your bed (thanks to HP, are this films really G-rated?) and the energy level? Mine was as high as usual except some flu days, not sure if they could be linked up with alcohol abstinence, the other way round would be more logically. And did we save money? Nope, because off all this bargains during January sale. And did we lost weight? Yes I think so, certainly the extra pounds we put on over Christmas. But it made us proud that we did it without any bigger issues, no special headaches or convulsions and yes, there’s nothing better then the first glass of booze after a month of abstinence. And that is what concerns me a bit about the whole thing: I’m wondering how much alcohol the Brits are drinking February 1st, especially  when it’s on a Friday like this year… And furthermore the whole thing is not really social, it doesn’t makes really a good impression when you invite friends for dinner and then let them drink all by themselves… cheers!

Should we go for Red January next year? R.E.D. stands for Run Every Day, whether you decide to run or walk your way through January, there are no rules. The aim is to get active every day. Sounds quite easy, especially if you’re a runner and a dog owner. I’m pretty sure that Veganuary will never work out with my family and I’m not fancy to cook two menus every evening. Markus would go for Tryanuary, a nationwide campaign to encourage support for the beer industry throughout January, we will see… There are still 11 months to think about the challenge we’re going to accept next year.


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