You might think it bad timing just before a UK Bank Holiday to be addressing a feature on cutting out or back on alcohol. It may well be (and there will be those who roll their eyes and scroll on by – and that’s fine). For some however it will be another uncomfortable reminder that things have slipped, becoming a problem or simply getting in the way of weight-loss, maintenance, good health and relationships. I cover it not just because it matters to so many who contact me when it has become a problem but as an urgent and timely reminder how quickly things can get out of control and holiday time seems to amplify this.
Bariatric teams talk frequently about transfer addiction after WLS and for some it becomes a big issue; for others it just marks the line in the sand between maintenance and regain or weight-loss and stall. I don’t have to convince you of this the forums, internet and other blogs have enough tales of woe to demonstrate this.
I have never been a prude when it comes to booze – I just know what works for me and what doesn’t and have made my choices – you’ll have to do the same and it is your decision but should be based on experience/facts and outcomes. I am pleased some WLS patients can show restraint, practise self-control and monitor their intake in a healthy way (wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could?), but sadly I know from my postbag, anecdotal evidence and a trawl around the forums and chat rooms that it’s not the same for all.
Most teams and therapists will often advise that if this has become an issue for you to go cold turkey and cut the booze right out (with medical support if needed and required), others will urge you to step back and cut right down. But how do you do this?
Dr Sally Norton, our regular guest contributor and a WLS surgeon offers some help and suggestions below …
GUEST POST: We all admit to craving an ice-cold beer or cocktail when the sun comes out – especially if we are on holiday! But, with recent guidelines saying there is no ‘safe’ alcohol limit, should we be reaching for a low-alcohol beer or a mocktail to satisfy our summer cravings instead?
So, what can you do to motivate yourself to stay off the booze?
Set specific goals
If your goal is to cut back on drinking alcohol, this isn’t specific enough to be a real goal. You should be more specific to make sure that you can measure your results and stay on track. For example, state how much you want to cut back, how often you want to cut back and when you will review your progress. Setting your goal ‘to limit my alcohol consumption to 2 glasses of wine a week’ might be more useful and realistic.
Consider what motivates you
Think about the motivation behind your goal. Think about what you will gain by cutting back on your consumption of alcohol. You might want to cut back on alcohol so that you can be a healthier person. If you know the reasons behind your goals and what you want to gain from reaching your goals, you are more likely to stick to them.
Consider telling your friends, family and partner about your goals and why you are making the change. Talk about your progress with people close to you to help keep you on track. You are much more likely to stick to your goals if you make a public commitment to them and you may even encourage someone else to give up or cut down with you, which is great motivation!
Take a look at the bigger picture and think about the barriers and temptations that might get in the way of your goal. For example, if you always drink too much alcohol with your friends, suggest doing something else, like going out for a meal, or limit yourself to just one or two drinks. You could also volunteer to be the designated driver when you next go out with your friends. That way, you won’t have to miss out on doing fun things with your friends, whilst still being able to cut back on your alcohol consumption.
Enjoy the benefits
Keep a note of how you feel to help motivate you to stay on track with your goals. You might feel that you are sleeping better, have more energy, feel clearer at work or you may have even lost weight since giving up alcohol. Make a note of all the money you have saved since giving up alcohol, and treat yourself to a shopping spree or put it towards a holiday. This will help you concentrate on what you have gained, rather than what you have given up; which is a great mindset to have!
In the long-term you will also be helping to reduce your risk of developing alcohol-related cancers, liver disease, heart disease, lower your blood pressure and you could even lose more weight!
Celebrate your success
It’s important that you acknowledge that making changes to your lifestyle can be difficult and that’s why it’s important to keep track of your progress and reward yourself throughout. Even if your progress has been small, you are still going in a positive direction, so give yourself some praise. Think about what rewards you will be able to give yourself with the money you save as well as the health rewards. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up every once in a while. Lapses are normal; it is about building in long term good habits that count.
Feature courtesy of Dr Sally Norton, Bariatric Surgeon and www.vavistalife.com