Tag Archives: Abstinence

And Not a Drop to Drink

This weekend was the first real test of my Abstinence Month.  Full of social evenings from Thursday through Sunday, I had four days in a row where having a cocktail or a beer would be typical behavior for me.  From ‘drinks’ out with a grad school friend, to live music in a bar, to a wine-tasting art school fund raiser, to Super Bowl Sunday, I had many opportunities to explain my 2011 approach to resolutions in general and my February plan in particular.

I’m happy to report that I did not have a drink all weekend, nor did I have any difficulty abstaining.  I admit that there were a few moments when I thought “gee, it’d be nice to have a drink right now” but they passed quickly.  Of course I think I was as charming and entertaining as usual, but you’ll have to ask around to hear if others agree.

Here are some observations I made this weekend:

* People react much differently to “I’m not drinking this month” than they do to “I’m driving.”
When I decline a drink because I am a designated driver, everyone I know consistently says “good for you” and that is that.  As I declined drinks this weekend, however, people initially wanted more explanation, and then consistently tried to convince me to abandon my resolution or pick a different month. It was all in good fun, of course, but it was fascinating to experience ‘peer pressure’ since (a) I’m over 40 and (b) so were they.

* I made much more responsible food choices, sort of.
There were no late-night nachos this weekend.  Also, no late-night hot-dogs with cheese, no latenight Twix bars, and no late-night chocolate cake.  In fact, there was no late-night food.  That being said, the lack of beer during the Super Bowl party did not keep me from being responsible for the demolition of at least 1/4 of a party-serving of awesome chili/nacho/cheese dip.  Thanks  a lot Leslie.

* There needs to be better alcohol-free choices at bars and restaurants.
I have had more water and seltzer with lime over the past three days than I care to discuss.  For fun, sometimes I asked for a splash of cranberry juice!  CRAZY!  I would definitely like to think of some better non-alcohol options, for variety if nothing else.

Did my abstinence change much about my weekend?  Not really.

I still went out and about – quite a lot actually.  I still got up at about the same time, did about the same amount of chores and school-work that I would normally do, and went to the gym once (sadly, typical) over the two days.  I did notice that I woke up with headaches on the mornings when I’d been up past midnight the night before.  

Apparently, part of the reason I might wind up with a headache on a Saturday morning is because I haven’t gotten enough sleep. Oh right, and I’m 41.   (It certainly wasn’t because I was dehydrated.)

If I’m honest about it, I admit that I also went home a bit earlier than I might have otherwise, but leaving a college-bar at 11:45 is a good idea anyway.  Between 11 and midnight the average age in a college  bar goes from 30 to 21 and the average length of a skirt goes from 24 inches to, oh, seven.   Drinks or not, it was time to leave.

The highlight of my weekend might have been meeting up again with George, the friend who inspired my February resolution to begin with.   Alas, he was rooting for the Packers, but we toasted each other throughout the evening with our Pelligrinos anyway.

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Filed under Alcohol, Food, Football, Resolutions

Ask a Mormon

Since I’m planning to spend the month of February in a state of abstinence from alcohol, I thought I’d do some research into groups, religions, and cultures that also abstain from alcohol use. Naturally, I started with the Mormons.

Did you know there is a website called “Ask a Mormon?

Here you can ask questions like “Can you define ‘hot drinks?”, “Can a Mormon date an Atheist?”, and of course “Why don’t Mormons drink alcohol?” Unfortunately, despite its awesome name, it appears that this site is very unofficial and that the answers provided are only opinions submitted by members of the church. There’s very little useful information about my question on this site, sadly, so I went next to http://www.Mormon.Org.

Official responses to the question seem to go along a continuum from one end (“We try not to put things into our bodies that could harm them.”) to the other (“God told us not to drink so we don’t.”).  Somewhere in between is the explanation I have heard from Mormons I know, that they believe the body is a temple and that it should be treated with the same respect that such a place deserves.

Whether it’s a Mormon thing or not, I think that taking care of our bodies is a GREAT idea. While I certainly understand that alcohol can be very, very bad for some, I also understand that moderate consumption of alcohol, especially red wine, can be good for one’s health.

In his book Food Rules, Michael Pollan attempts to distill all of the current scientific and nutritional wisdom on healthy diets into 64 simple, easy-to-remember rules. (My personal favorite is that you shouldn’t eat cereal that changes the color of the milk). Rule #43 is, in fact, to have a glass of wine with dinner. The fine scientists at the Mayo Clinic do a great job of summing up the research on this topic and attempting to separate fact from myth. Their advice in the end is to drink red wine in moderation or not at all.

“Red wine’s potential heart-health benefits look promising. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease. However, more research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for your heart than are other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.”

So here’s what I want to know. Where do I sign up to be a participant in THAT study?

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Filed under Food, Research