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  • Writer's pictureMy French Dietitian

Weight Loss, Better Sex And More Money: This Is Dry January!

A new year is a time for new beginnings, and for many people, that means setting new year's resolutions. 

If you're like me and most people, you might have a list of goals you want to achieve in the coming year. 

For some, it might be to quit smoking, for others, it might be to stop gaining weight, or to finally learn a new language. 

For an increasing number of individuals, this marks the start of "Dry January", a month without drinking alcohol.


This article was reviewed and approved by Jean-Philippe Ricau, a Dietitian with 25+ years of experience, and co-founder of myfrenchdietitian.


Couple kissing under the shower


What began as a personal challenge has evolved into a global movement, with participants reaping numerous physical, mental, and social benefits from this alcohol-free venture.


As in the Tobacco Free Month in France, this initiative called "Dry January" aims to reset your relationship with alcohol after the excesses of the holiday season.


In this blog post, I'll dive into the compelling benefits of a month without alcohol, exploring how abstaining from spirits can lead to enhanced intimacy, deeper sleep, and even more money in your pocket.


Whether you're a seasoned participant in alcohol-free challenges or considering it for the first time, join me as I unveil the potential for a month of increased well-being and a revitalized lifestyle.



What is Dry January:


Dry January first gained prominence in the United Kingdom through the efforts of the charity Alcohol Change UK.

The idea is straightforward: individuals voluntarily put a pause on their alcohol consumption for the entire month of January.

What started as a small-scale campaign has now grown into a global phenomenon, with millions of people worldwide embracing the challenge.


So if you're contemplating a remarkable challenge that promises not only better sex but also improved sleep and financial gains, then a month without alcohol might be the transformative experience you're seeking.


This resolution applies to both heavy and small drinkers. This campaign shows that there is no alcohol intake without risk to health. Every year since 2013, millions of people take up the challenge.




Benefits of giving up booze for a month. Why try Dry January:


Dry January, a challenge that encourages people to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January, has gained popularity in recent years.


While the primary motivation behind Dry January is often to improve physical health, there are numerous other benefits to abstaining from alcohol.


A study from the University of Sussex in England published on January 2, 2019 on their website identifies the benefits of the experiment. The study explains why it is worth depriving ourselves for 31 days, and that the benefits of this challenge can be felt for several months.


One month would be enough to see beneficial effects on our physiology and health.


How will Dry January help you drink less in 2024?


First surprise of the study: a decrease in consumption over the months following the challenge:


"Just spending a month without alcohol helps people drink less in the long run," said in a press release Richard de Visser, the Psychologist who coordinated the study.

Participants did not just remove alcohol from their daily lives for a month. They also drastically reduced their consumption in the months following the challenge.

In August, the number of weekly days with alcohol was only 3, against 4 on average before Dry January.

At the same time, participants reduced the amount of alcohol drunk on each occasion (one drink less on average).

Finally, episodes of drunkenness went from 3 to 2 per month.


Better sex, better sleep, weight loss, more money .. This is what a month without alcohol will do to you.


bunch of people clinking wine glasses

  • Enhanced sleep: Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Studies have shown that Dry January participants experience significant improvements in sleep quality, leading to increased energy levels and improved overall well-being. For example the same study as mentioned above found that 7 out of 10 people reported sleeping better and feeling better.

  • Weight loss: Alcohol is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain. When consumed, this results in a spike in blood sugar and insulin. If it is drunk continuously, it can contribute to the development of insulin resistance. This is one of the risk factors for steatosis, a liver lesion that stores energy and makes your liver fat. (Related article: 8 Foods That Contribute to Weight Gain, according to Dietitians)

  • Reduced stress: Alcohol may initially seem to reduce stress, but it actually has the opposite effect. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to increased stress levels and anxiety. Dry January allows individuals to manage stress more effectively without relying on alcohol. A study found that Dry January participants had a 10% increase in energy levels and a 30% reduction in stress.

  • Improved skin health: Alcohol can dehydrate the skin and lead to premature aging. Dry January participants often experience clearer, healthier skin due to the improved hydration and reduced alcohol consumption.

  • Sharper cognitive function: Alcohol consumption can impair cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making. Dry January can lead to improved focus, concentration, and memory clarity. Indeed, more than half of the participants to the study reported better concentration.

  • Enhanced mental health: Alcohol can exacerbate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Abstinence from alcohol can lead to improved mood, reduced stress, and a greater sense of well-being.

  • Blood pressure: one study found that Dry January participants had a 23% reduction in blood pressure, indicating improved cardiovascular health. Another study found that Dry January participants had a 10% increase in energy levels and a 30% reduction in stress.



How taking a break from alcohol for a month or more can improve your sex life?


a couple celebrating new year



  • Improved physical performance: Alcohol can impair your physical coordination and stamina, which can make it difficult to enjoy physical intimacy. When you abstain from alcohol, you'll have more energy and endurance, which can lead to more satisfying and enjoyable sexual experiences.

  • Enhanced emotional connection: Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you more impulsive, which can lead to poor decision-making in the bedroom. When you're sober, you'll be more present and engaged in the moment, which can deepen your emotional connection with your partner.

  • Increased self-esteem: Alcohol can lower your self-esteem and self-confidence, which can make it difficult to feel attractive and desirable. When you're sober, you'll be more comfortable in your own skin, which can boost your confidence and make you more open to intimacy.

  • Improved sleep quality: Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns, which can lead to fatigue and irritability. When you're sober, you'll be able to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling refreshed, which can improve your overall mood and energy levels.

  • Reduced anxiety and stress: Alcohol can exacerbate anxiety and stress, which can make it difficult to relax and enjoy intimacy. When you're sober, you'll be better able to manage stress and anxiety, which can lead to a more enjoyable and fulfilling sex life.

  • Clearer communication: Alcohol can impair your judgment and communication skills, which can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements. When you're sober, you'll be able to communicate more clearly and honestly, which can enhance your emotional connection with your partner and make your love life more satisfying.



Skipping alcohol is also good for your wallet! Financial benefits of skipping alcohol:


a glass full of coins


Abstaining from alcohol can lead to substantial financial savings, offering an extra incentive to participate in Dry January:

  • Reduced spending on alcohol: The average American spends about $2,500 per year on alcohol. If you cut out alcohol altogether, you could save yourself a significant amount of money.

  • Lower healthcare costs: Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. These diseases can lead to costly medical bills. By abstaining from alcohol, you can reduce your risk of these diseases and save money on healthcare costs in the long run.

  • Increased investment opportunities: The money you save by skipping alcohol can be invested in other areas, such as your retirement savings, your child's education, or a new home.

  • Improved financial well-being: Skipping alcohol can help you reach your financial goals faster and improve your overall financial well-being.


Here are some specific examples of how much money you could save by skipping alcohol:

  • If you normally have a few drinks on the weekends, you could save between $20 and $50 per week.

  • If you go out to bars or restaurants frequently, you could save hundreds of dollars per month.

Of course, the amount of money you save will depend on your individual drinking habits. But even if you only cut back on your alcohol consumption a little bit, you can still save a significant amount of money.




Are you thinking about trying Dry January? Step for Success:


Here are some tips for a successful Dry January:


1. Set Clear Goals:

  • Define your reasons for participating and establish clear, achievable goals for the month. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals will help you stay on track and make the most of your Dry January experience. For example, you could set a goal to reduce your alcohol consumption by 50%, abstain from alcohol for all of January, or replace alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic alternatives.

2. Identify your triggers:

  • What situations or emotions typically lead you to drink alcohol? Once you know your triggers, you can start to develop strategies for avoiding or coping with them in a healthy way. For example, if you tend to drink more when you're feeling stressed, you could find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, or spending time with supportive friends.

3. Make healthy substitutions:

  • When you're craving alcohol, find healthy alternatives that will satisfy your taste buds and provide you with the nutrients and hydration you need. For example, you could try sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice, herbal tea, or decaffeinated coffee.

  • If you have social events and situations where alcohol is present during the month, you could have non-alcoholic mocktails on hand or be the designated sober driver.

  • Find non-alcoholic beverages that satisfy your palate, making social occasions enjoyable without compromising your alcohol-free commitment.

4. Focus on benefits and Self-Reflection:

  • Use the month to reflect on your relationship with alcohol and consider the positive changes you experience. Remind yourself of the positive reasons why you're doing Dry January. This could include improving your health, losing weight, saving money, or feeling more in control of your life.



If you do not complete the challenge, don’t worry: you can still reap the benefits of your efforts. "It's interesting to note that these changes also affected people who did not manage to hold the whole month," said Richard de Visser. "It shows that there are benefits in just trying to meet the challenge."



Conclusion:

Dry January is not just about giving up alcohol for a month; it's about making a conscious decision to improve your health and well-being. By abstaining from alcohol for a short period, you can reap a variety of benefits that can extend far beyond the month of January.


The month-long break allows individuals to reassess their relationship with alcohol, potentially leading to healthier drinking habits in the long run.


As you venture into the new year, consider the extraordinary benefits awaiting you in a month without alcohol. From a revitalized sex life to improved sleep and financial gains, this challenge offers a multifaceted journey toward enhanced well-being.


So, raise your glass to a month of clarity, resilience, and a renewed sense of well-being – here's to a Dry January!


Sources: - Figures provided by the British charity Alcohol Concern UK, creator of Dry January.

-The study of the University of Sussex in England, published on January 2nd on their website: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/47131#:~:text=New%20research%20from%20the%20University,report%20drinking%20less%20months%20later.



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