To­tally on top of this tee­to­tal­ism

Jake Wal­lis Si­mons proves that a dry Jan­uary is pos­si­ble even for a jour­nal­ist and finds that the health ben­e­fits are well worth the ef­fort

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Lifestyle -

Frankly, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. It has been 12 days now, and I’m not crav­ing the booze in the slight­est. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know how many days it had been. I had to look at the cal­en­dar to work it out. Nope, I don’t come home from work and think, “Christ, I could just do with an ice cold – gah!”. I don’t sit late into the night sip­ping a small glass of orange juice and gaz­ing long­ingly at my whisky cab­i­net. I don’t ac­cel­er­ate as I walk past the pub in or­der to avoid temp­ta­tion. And I most cer­tainly am not in de­nial. “The good news is that most peo­ple suc­cess­fully com­plete their dry Jan­uary,” says Emily Robin­son, di­rec­tor of cam­paigns at Al­co­hol Con­cern, the or­gan­i­sa­tion be­hind the scheme. “Last year around 87 per cent of peo­ple tak­ing part who we sur­veyed told us they’d man­aged to stick to the chal­lenge. Lots of peo­ple find so­cial oc­ca­sions re­ally tricky, per­haps be­cause they can’t re­mem­ber the last time they so­cialised with­out booze. We want peo­ple to carry on go­ing out but just to swap their usual for some­thing soft.” Reader, if you, like me, have har­nessed your fate to a booze­less Jan­uary – at least un­til Burns Night – and have stayed on the wagon thus far, then con­grat­u­la­tions. You’ve made it half way, more or less. Cel­e­brate with a gin­ger beer. Or a gin­less tonic wa­ter. Or another Vir­gin Mary. Let’s face it, the mid­way point is al­ways the hard­est. So here’s a bit of en­cour­age­ment. Thanks to new re­search car­ried out by Pro­fes­sor Ra­jiv Jalan at the In­sti­tute for Liver and Di­ges­tive Health at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don (UCL), in con­junc­tion with the New Sci­en­tist mag­a­zine, we now know far more about the health ben­e­fits of a dry month. And they are re­mark­able. “I was very sur­prised that even in in­di­vid­u­als drink­ing within safe lim­its, sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments were pos­si­ble within a onemonth ab­sten­tion,” says Prof Jalan. “The ob­served ef­fects on weight, choles­terol and glu­cose were stag­ger­ing.” He stud­ied 14 “healthy and nor­mal” jour­nal­ists (stop snig­ger­ing at the back) who were work­ing full time and drink­ing al­co­hol so­cially. Ten of them gave up drink­ing and four con­tin­ued to drink. The dry co­hort showed “a sta­tis­ti­cally and clin­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment” in terms of their lev­els of liver fat (which re­duced by a stag­ger­ing 15-20 per cent), blood glu­cose, and choles­terol. On av­er­age, they also lost a kilo­gram of weight. Other ben­e­fits in­cluded bet­ter sleep at night, im­proved wake­ful­ness and con­cen­tra­tion dur­ing the day, and bet­ter work per­for­mance. (Read Sara Stan­ner in Life Coach on page 22-23 for more de­tails about the ad­van­tages of a dry month.) So, my brothers and sis­ters in tee­to­tal­ism, do not fail; do not fal­ter. And if you are fe­ro­cious in bat­tle, re­mem­ber to be mag­nan­i­mous in vic­tory. Not that go­ing dry is dif­fi­cult, of course.

Kick the habit: once the month is over, cel­e­brate in moder­a­tion

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