Dry January is over. Now what?

With February finally here, following the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption is more important than ever for those who participated in Dry January. Your tolerance might be low, and the last thing you want to do is shock your system with a night of heavy drinking.

Whether you used Dry January to abstain from alcohol or just cut back, you’ve made it through.

For many people, you used the month to try to lose weight, change drinking patterns, or improve mental health.

Follow these tips to safely reintroduce alcohol back into your diet after a hiatus.

Drink in moderation

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to 1 standard drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men A standard drink is equivalent to a 12-ounce serving of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. Consuming more than three drinks per day for women and more than four drinks per day for men is considered heavy drinking.

“I would suggest setting a goal and maintaining a goal within the dietary guideline recommendations if consuming alcohol,” says Dee Gabbard, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI. “If overconsumption has been a problem and moderation is not an option, then sticking to non-alcoholic beverages would be advised.”

Remember the benefits of drinking less

Now that you’ve reached the end of Dry January, you’ve maybe noticed some positive changes like weight loss, better sleep or more energy. While these are some benefits you can see and feel, there are also some positive effects that can impact long-term health.

With reduced alcohol intake, you avoid the many risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption. The American Heart Association reports that drinking too much alcohol increases your risk for high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, liver damage, injury and more. The risk of these harms increases with the amount of alcohol you drink. If you do decide to start drinking again in February, do so in moderation.

Avoid excessive alcohol use

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that in 2018, almost 27% of adults in the U.S. engaged in binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, over the past month.

To avoid overconsumption when drinking alcoholic beverages, Gabbard offers some easy tips:

  • Begin with quenching your thirst with a nonalcoholic beverage such as water, sparkling water or a sugar free drink.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages slowly.
  • Use mixers like diet tonic water or club soda to make it last longer.

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