This week I watched the show “Drinkers Like Me“ which I really liked. It followed the TV presenter Adrian Chiles as he looked into his own drinking habits. I felt it really touched on area that affects many people when it comes to drinking. It looked into the middle ground between a very light to non drinker and that of the more classic alcoholic.
The premise behind this was the research suggesting that a large percentage of people are consuming way too much alcohol. However, they do not see this as much of a problem because they are not anywhere near the typical devastating alcoholic intake whose life is ruined by drink. This drinking behaviour group are not drinking mid morning and do not feel alcohol is ruining their life. They will have one or two days a week without drink and would not be in a total panic if they couldn’t drink tomorrow.
However, with alcohol at this threshold there are no immediate warning signs that they are drinking too much. The result is that through drinking regularly during week, be this a couple of glasses of wine one night or a fair bit more other days they can massively over consume on alcohol units consumed. In the show Adrian Chiles saw he was many times over the weekly allowance.
The show tracked him on his journey as he met with doctors and former alcoholic Frank Skinner. He also went to a AA meeting and discussed drink with people who had similar drinking behaviours. The general advice given to him by doctors was to try and find 3-4 days a week with no alcohol while reducing quantities on days he did drink.
My personal experience of alcohol is that I haven’t drunk for ten years. I was a typical rugby player and drinker. I would get drunk on weekends etc. The beginning of the end for my drinking was back in 2004 when for a New Year Resolution I gave up drink until I could chat women up sober. This awkward process took a few months to achieve with the hardest part being learning to dance sober. Once I had become comfortable with this my drinking became less and less so that I eventually stopped in 2008.
On a work front I am always working with people like Adrian Chiles who are drinking way too much alcohol for the ideal of their body but not at a level where it is a problem under normal views of alcoholism etc. Personally I have nothing against people drinking and my main goal with clients is to ensure they are choosing when to drink and not drinking automatically without thinking.
If you are in this category and looking to reduce intake then I would look to:
Calculate The Calorie Percentage & Replace – For many people alcohol calories have become part of your overall food intake approach. So simply cutting out drink will often leave you under eating quite a bit and this inevitably leads to food cravings and you can almost guarantee it will be for your favourite drink. You can make life much easier for yourself if you remove drink and replace that same amount with food.
Use the Taste Index & Increase It – Drink not only represents a good portion of food intake it usually also provides much of the taste in a days intake. If you remember from my article on the taste index>>>. I look for my clients to be at a 8 / 10 on how nice your foods are in a day scale. If removing drink reduces your taste score you must look to add new foods back to bring that number back up.
The above two should make it easier to then begin behaviour training.
Start Behaviour Training – The goal with drink should be that you are choosing when to drink and not letting circumstances tell you to drink. To get to this point you simply need to use some willpower to begin to retrain your brain. First pick an easy day to not drink and do it, e.g. Monday. Repeat it a couple of times then next time pick another day to try not drinking. Again repeat until comfortable and continue until have done all seven days of the week. You do not need to stop drinking but just move around the days you do drink. This process can be expanded to situations, e.g. meeting different types of friends and not drinking etc and expanded out so that you eventually do not HAVE to drink in any situation, time or company of others. At this point you are free to choose your behaviours and will easily find balance in your alcohol consumption.
Replace The Activity – The final element to work on would be replacing the benefits that come from drinking. Too often people choose social life & drink vs no social life. This is creating an either or environment. You need to replace the activity. Look for other ways to connect with friends, family or partner.
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