The holidays are a time of overindulgence. They’re a time for gathering with friends and family, which often means celebrating with a few drinks. We eat and drink and then we eat some more. No matter how disciplined you are, chances are you indulged in a few more drinks than usual. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines “heavy drinking” as more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women and more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men — a limit many of us exceed during the holidays.
The good news is if you drank more than your share, the new year is a great time to reset your drinking habits. Here are our tips to cut back on alcohol after the holidays:
Take a break. The simplest solution is also the toughest: take a break from alcohol. Take a sober week or month and feel the difference. Quitting is the fastest way to see the effects of alcohol on your body and to stop the cycle of binge drinking. Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone, though. If you think you may be alcohol dependent, quitting suddenly can induce withdrawal symptoms and should be avoided.
Make a mocktail. Hosting a post-holiday gathering? Try a mocktail or other alcohol-free drink. Just like your mom told you — you don’t need alcohol to have a good time — or a good drink, for that matter. If you’re heading out to someone else’s party, consider taking your favorite nonalcoholic drink.
Eat healthy. You may be craving a cheeseburger, but eating lots of fruits and vegetables can actually help you recover from drinking. Alcohol has negative effects on your immune system like weakening your body’s response to infection and disrupting your sleep cycle. Eating a diet of healthy foods with lots of antioxidants can help rebuild your immune system.
Get moving. Don’t forgo time with friends and family. According to Blue Zones Project®, spending time with loved ones can add years to your life. Make a date to get moving. Go outside — take a walk, hike, or bike ride together. Getting some exercise and skipping drinks will be easier with someone you love by your side.
Reward yourself. No drinking doesn’t mean no pau hana. Order a lemonade or coffee and calculate the the amount of money you’d have spent on drinking. Save that money and reward yourself. Buy a ticket to see the new Star Wars movie or get those shoes you’ve had your eye on. The less you drink, the more you’ll reap the rewards.