Summer provides us the beautiful excuse to socialize, throw parties, and survive off less sleep. It is a time to make memories and make the most of our time. We spend long days at the beach, hiking or throwing backyard BBQ’s and with these fun and fancy free outings we often like to add to the fun with a couple few refreshing alcoholic bevies. Just to take the edge off. I for one, love nothing more than a refreshing beer (what my parents liked to refer to as “brown pops” when I was a kid), or glass of ice cold chardonnay on a rooftop patio after a satisfying afternoon in this West Coast heat. But after a few days of this I am exhausted and left feeling less than 100%.
My friends used to call me the “the social butterfly.” I was that girl going out night after night to this BBQ or that dance club and I would wake up after 5 hours of sleep, laugh at all the silliness that kept me up late the night before and after pushing through a day of work with enough caffeine to fuel a small village, would look forward to doing it all over again. I was tired and wired and unstoppable. Little did I know that I was burning the candle at both ends and making myself really sick in the process.
It wasn’t until moved to Vancouver to attend my holistic nutrition program that I realized how unhealthy I was. My liver was overburdened and I had huge bags underneath my eyes to show for it. My skin was riddled with pimples from all the sugar I had consumed from countless wine coolers all summer. My digestion was a mess and to top it all off I had gained weight and along with feeling exhausted I no longer fit into my clothes the way I used to. This, my friends, was the wake-up call I needed to take control of my health and start honoring my body again.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you about how easy it was to stop drinking and partying, because in all honesty it was an uphill battle. But I will share with you a few things that guided me to a healthier and happier version of myself.
First of all…
- Alcohol depletes your body of B Vitamins essential for energy production, nervous impulses, red blood cell production, and metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- Alcohol has a lot of calories! To put it into perspectives – carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories/gram, fats have 9 calories/gram, and alcohol has a whopping 7 calories/gram (no wonder I had to go out and buy a new wardrobe)!
- Alcohol is high in sugar and can cause breakouts! (hello acne in my late 20’s. How embarrassing!)
- Alcohol is a depressant. Mix a low mood with a lack of sleep and you can expect nothing less than a few world-class mood swings that, ladies, I had blamed on PMS for way too long (sorry ex-boyfriends)!
- Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on blood sugar. Studies have shown that when you are sleep deprived you have a harder time regulating blood sugar and wind up eating more calories the next day. Not to mention, when combining this with high amounts of caffeine you are just stealing energy from your tomorrow!
So what helped me kick the habit and take back my health?
Here is a list of my top 5 tips:
1. Have someone to hold you accountable – for me this was a naturopath, but for you it could be a friend, a loved one, a counselor, or even your daily journal
2. Be social, but make water or non-alcoholic drinks your best friend (click here for my mind-blowing Lavender Grapefruit “Mocktini” recipe!) Healing is not so much about what you have to take away, its about what you can add. So even if you don’t want to change your drinking habits just yet, make sure you are hydrating in between.
3. Supplement with B-Vitamins. A multi B vitamin will be your best friend this summer! Taken daily it will help replenish your body and keep your energy up.
4. Support your liver!!! If you only listen to one thing I say today make it this one. Our liver has a million and one responsibilities – it truly deserves a pat on the back for all the hard work it does – and overburdening it with alcohol only stresses it out! Supplementing with milk thistle daily or eating liver supporting foods like artichoke, beets, garlic, and broccoli can help. Breakouts are a telltale sign that your liver is overburdened and not detoxifying efficiently so get on it! Don’t wait, just act! (You should also check out the 14 Day Liver Reset program we put together).
5. Keep a food diary. This may feel like a chore right now, but it will open your eyes up to the amount you are actually drinking each week. When I did this it was staggering how much each drink or two per day added up to at the end of the week.
Accordingly to Health Canada’s recommendations I was basically an alcoholic! AHHHH! I did not want this to define me, so I let it motivate me to get my formerly skinny butt in gear and take back my health!
Don’t forget that we all have peaks and valleys in this journey called life. We need to celebrate our small successes.
So whether or not you enjoy one sober night a week to start, or go cold turkey for a month. Be proud of yourself and know that I am cheering for you! You can do it love. Stay classy.
Katie Israelson, CNP and ex-party girl ☺
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