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Dry January 2022: 10 tips to successfully stay sober this month as nutritionists and sober coach share advice

NationalWorld interviews nutritionists and a sober expert to get their advice on how you can stick to your Dry January goals

Many people decide to take up an alcohol-free start to the year with Dry January to feel healthier after the indulgence of the festive season.

But, as we head further into the new month, those keeping sober may feel themselves wanting to quit or reach for an alcoholic drink.

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NationalWorld spoke to nutritionists and a sober expert for their advice on how best to complete Dry January.

Here are 10 top tips to staying sober this month.

Be clear about why you are not drinking alcohol

Helen Money, nutritionist and founder of Helen Money Nutrition, tells people to keep it clear in their mind why they are doing Dry January and what the benefits are to them.

She also advised people to revisit this when you are tempted to have a drink and put positive reminders up around the house.

Implement journaling into your daily routine

Sarah Smylie, sober coach and mentor, said writing is very important to “offload thoughts, process emotions and record your experiences.”

“Re-reading your journal will increase your understanding, and self-awareness around your relationship with alcohol,” she added.

Purchase non-alcoholic beverages

The different types of non-alcoholic drinks on offer in supermarket shelves have increased over the past few years.

You can now choose from a variety of zero-alcohol beverages.

Ms Money said: “Non-alcoholic wine, gin and beer have really improved in recent years. As you would with the alcoholic versions, find the one that you like and serve in a nice glass.”

Uta Boellinger, nutritional therapist and member of Nutritional Resource, listed her favourite healthy options to help those completing Dry January.

She said: “Erdinger non-alcoholic which is a super tasty German wheat beer and is actually marketed as a sports drink in Germany due to being an isotonic drink. You’d never know it was non-alcoholic.

Seedlip Gin. This is a proper grown up drink and again it tastes like the real deal. As well as being delicious it actually contains numerous herbs which give it some health benefits. Mix with Fever Tree Tonic Water et voila.

“Non-alcoholic cocktails are also a great option so you don’t feel left out. But beware that some of them are quite high in sugar.”

Find a different way to socialise

Ms Boellinger advises to not commit to too many social engagements.

“Whilst it’s good to have healthy alternatives it can still be tricky to say no to alcohol when you’re actually out and about with friends or family. So if possible keep pub and bar visits to a minimum this month,” she said.

Ms Money suggested to “try going for a walk with friends, the cinema, bowling or take up a team sport.”

“Find a different way to socialise, where alcohol is not the main focus of the evening,” she added.

If going to a social event, decide what you will drink before

If you do have social events planned this month or find yourself going out with friends, deciding what you will drink beforehand will help to refrain you from choosing your favourite alcoholic drink.

Ms Money said if you do go to a pub or a party “decide what you are going to drink before you arrive” as it “will cause less temptation.”

“Having it clear in your mind what you are going to drink will help you from scanning your eyes over the whole drinks menu and being tempted by your favourite alcoholic drink,” she said.

Celebrate the small milestones and achievements

Make sure to reward yourself to keep up the motivation and remind you of how well you are doing.

Ms Money suggests to “save the money you would have spent on alcohol and buy yourself something at the end of the month.”

She also advised to “use a measurable positive from not drinking - this may be changes in weight, improvement in skin, reduction in puffiness or more enthusiasm to get up and go in the mornings” and celebrate these.”

“Reward yourself for each week you complete. Not drinking will probably save you some money so why not use this to reward yourself and remind yourself that with every drink you don’t buy you’re one step closer to buying a fancy dinner or something else you’d enjoy,” Ms Boellinger added.

Celebrating the small achievements “with others provides external validation, increasing your motivation and strengthening your self-belief” Ms Smylie also added.

Remind yourself of the health benefits

Alcohol is highly inflammatory, leading to a wide range of health concerns that can reflect in your skin, hair and nails. It is also the root cause of most chronic disease and cancers.

Ms Money said: “Alcohol is high in calories so can lead to weight gain, plus will not fill you up so these are calories on top of those needed to stop hunger. Further, drinking reduces inhibitions which may lead to higher calorie food choices whilst drinking. Pounds spent on alcohol equals pounds on the waist.”

If you remind yourself of these health benefits on a daily basis this will help you to keep it strong in your mind why you are not drinking alcohol.

“The benefits of taking a break from alcohol are numerous and your body will thank you. You can look forward to experiencing weight loss, improved skin, more stable moods, better sleep and better energy levels as a result,” Ms Boellinger said.

Don’t keep alcohol in the house

This is a very simple tip to help you complete Dry January. It will remove all temptations - if it’s not in the house you won’t be able to quit or give in to your cravings.

Ms Boellinger advises to not keep it in the house because “you’re more likely to be tempted to add a glass of wine to dinner if it’s there in front of you.”

“If you do have a stock I’d recommend keeping it out of sight or ideally hard to get to such as your attic,” she said.

Keep hydrated

Ms Boellinger highlighted the importance of staying hydrated while you are staying sober.

She said: “As you’re supporting your liver by giving it a break and allowing your body to focus on other toxins to remove you’d also benefit from enhancing this process. Staying well hydrated is the first step to consider.”

“Why not start your day with a large glass of water and half a squeezed lemon. It’s a good habit to get into as it not only aids hydration but D-limonene from the lemon also helps to activate liver pathways which aid detoxification,” she added.

Choose to be accountable

Ms Smylie encourages people to share their alcohol free goal with friends to “encourage and support you”.

“Compare your highs and lows and offer each other tips and ideas,” she added.

You can also join online groups on Facebook that include others taking on Dry January or perhaps wanting to stay sober for longer. Being part of these online communities can help you to stay on track, keep motivated and can offer some inspiration.

Manage cravings and triggers

Cravings and triggers are “cues for ‘wanting’ to change how you feel, the most common being when we are overwhelmed or stressed but everyone will have their own unique ‘map’ of triggers,” Ms Smylie said.

She advises to “take control and move through your triggers, by changing your relationship with your thoughts. Visualise ‘freeze framing’ as if you are ‘pushing pause’ on these thoughts, distract yourself, give yourself a breather allowing the thought, and emotion, to pass.”

Trying these tips when you feel a craving or trigger will help to relieve your strong emotion or thoughts.

“Recognise that it is your thinking which leads to your drinking,” Ms Smylie said.

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