Dry January – why do it, and what are the alternatives?

How’s your new year going? Broken any resolutions yet? Or have you stuck to your promises, setting the example for healthy living? (Or maybe you’re carrying on as usual. That’s fine too.)

‘Tis indeed the season for lifestyle upheaval, with many folks choosing to put down the pint glass and pick up a kettlebell instead.

As a company that makes beer, we’d love for you to commit to the beautiful brew. But we’re also human. We know that overindulgence is fun on occasion, but won’t do you much good in the long run. As we all know from the post-Christmas period, after putting on a few pounds and not venturing far from the sofa during the festive season, sometimes a healthier choice will do us good. 

In the spirit of the new year, many of us feel the need for a lifestyle shake-up, so efforts like Dry January tend to pop up around this time.

Formally, Dry January started as an initiative by the charity Alcohol Change UK back in 2013, but the concept of sobriety and temperance at the start of the year is one that dates back throughout history.

It’s a pretty good thing, overall – Dry January is said to help people better understand their drinking habits, and its effects last much longer into the year. 

You don’t have to commit to a full month without booze, but it’s worth looking at some healthier options at this time of year. So if you’re thinking about changing up your relationship with booze, there’s a few different approaches you can take.

Rethinking drinking

Firstly, if you’re cutting drink out entirely for a period like Dry January (or Sober October, etc.), have a look at your non-alcoholic options. There’s loads more available now than even a couple of years ago. 

We’re moving on from the days where the only booze-free option behind the bar was a cola – you can get non-alcoholic wine, beer, and spirits these days, with more options popping up every day. The global brewing mega-corps have noticed this trend and pounced, so you can get 0% or low-alcohol versions of their beers in supermarkets and pubs.

And if you pop into one of our beerhouses you’ll always find something booze-free behind the bar. 

If you’re not quite abstaining, you could always ask for a session instead of your usual pint. Session beers are still boozy, but generally less so than regular beers. You’ll normally find them between 2 and 5% ABV, so it’s easier to drink a few during a ’session’ and not get more than tipsy (or take in too many calories). Our very own Seven Brothers Session craft beer is 3.8% ABV and has a light, refreshing taste – you can order some to enjoy at home through our online shop.

Everything in moderation

How about a bit of moderation, instead?

It’s defined as “the avoidance of excess or extremes” – basically, cutting down a bit without giving it up entirely. You could turn your 8 pints a week into 4 for a while. Swap your last drink of each session for a juice. That sort of thing.

Any healthy lifestyle involves making healthy choices. And while some might go for cutting out booze entirely, we’d counter that beer contains a load of vitamins – especially craft beer that has more hops than other brews. It’s also got a bunch of other goodness: antioxidants, calcium, potassium, zinc, manganese, and more. So it might not be as effective as the spinach & kale cold-pressed charcoal juice cleanser in the café next door, but your pub ale is certainly not all bad for you.

The general consensus from health bods is that regular, moderate beer drinking is healthier for you than stacking it all up into big sessions.

So your six pints of beer throughout a week should be spread out over the course of Monday to Sunday, rather than chugged down in one boozy night. (Not only is this healthier, but there’ll be no hangovers or regrettable behaviour.)

Drinking beer with food is also a good idea, as it’ll take longer to become intoxicated, and is easier on your digestion. 

That said, might we recommend a trip to our Ancoats beerhouse or our new Middlewood Locks beerhouse for a bite? If you’re doing Veganuary too (well done you!) we’ve got you covered – yummy vegan and veggie options are available on the food menu all year round. 

Beer as part of a healthy lifestyle

You could also try swapping a certain number of beers for other things, to help you build a healthier lifestyle while still enjoying a drink.

For each pint skipped, you could replace it with a healthy habit, like doing 5 push-ups, or drinking a fruit smoothie (although maybe wait ’til you’ve left the pub to try these ones). That way, you can feel like you’ve earned the next one and it’ll taste even better – absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

Healthy habits sometimes take a while to produce changes, but the results are usually worth it. You’ll likely find that soon enough, they feel less like a punishment and more like a reward. And February isn’t too far off, anyway…

Keith McAvoy

Keith McAvoy

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