I guess like many people, at the start of the year, I made a resolution to decrease my alcohol intake. I started on the 8th of January so am now nearly a month into my Dry-ish January.
Drink Less in Seven Days
One of the things that helped me stick to this was a book that I requested from Net Galley called Drink Less in Seven Days by Georgia Foster. Georgia is a clinical hypnotherapist and alongside the written version of the book, there are also 4 “Hypnosis Hub” recordings that readers are encouraged to access to help them with the program.
One of the great things about Drink Less in Seven Days is that Georgia (and I”m going to call her Georgia because she kind of feels like a friend) is totally non-judgemental about how much you drink, why you drink, why you feel you drink too much etc. I feel that this is an area where people carry a lot of shame and negative feelings and to have someone who approaches an emotional issue like this with absolute objectivity is helpful in driving the desired behaviours. She’s on your side!
There are two main parts to Drink Less in Seven Days. The first is how your amygdala (the part of your brain that deals with emotions and fear/stress responses) can actually work against your efforts to quit or reduce your drinking. It shows you how to move your decision to drink away from this very instinctive part of your brain to your prefrontal cortex which is the part of your brain that is more concerned with considered decision-making.
I found this part of the book fascinating, particularly the parts where she spoke about silencing your inner critic.
However, it was the second part of the book, where Georgia broke down different personality types. what triggers them to drink and how to circumvent these triggers that I found most useful. (Also fascinating, if like me you love a good theory of behaviour and the ability to proclaim “Yes!!!! That’s me!”). Because it makes total sense right? If you drink out of social anxiety (which is me a little bit) your methods to success will likely be different to someone who drinks because everyone around you is (also me a little bit).
The biggest take away for me was starting to understand what triggers my wanting to drink and learning alternative strategies should I decide not to. I think a really important thing about Drink Less in Seven Days is that it is NOT about quitting drinking altogether. It is about cutting down to a level that you are comfortable with, whatever that is for you.
But Does It Work?
Okay, so here’s the real deal. In the almost month since I decided to have my reset I have drunk alcohol three times which is a whole heap less than what my normal consumption would have been.
ONE of those times, (the first) I totally over consumed. But in my defence, it was a belated New Year’s Eve party.
The second time I was down in the dumps about something (possibly drinking too much at the belated New Year’s Eve party). But it was a much more controlled effort – just a couple of glasses of wine.
The third time was at a BBQ for Australia Day. I was perfectly comfortable not drinking but ultimately succumbed to a bit of peer pressure. Again, I nursed a couple of ciders and a red wine through the evening. In retrospect, I should have listened to the hypnosis hub recording on social drinking before the bbq.
In the month, I have been to pubs, bars and restaurants, entertained at home and been entertained at other people’s homes so it’s not like I have been hiding at home. I have been around alcohol and people drinking as much as I ever was. I barely notice if people are drinking now let alone want to join in!
Having said all that I am also doing my reset or detox or whatever it’s called with my closest friend and I think that type of peer support is invaluable to the success of a venture like this.
Will I drink again? Almost definitely. For me, this experiment was never about giving up altogether. And I have far too much fun making cocktails for this to give it up completely! However, I feel that moving forward I will be able to drink in a more mindful considered way.
Thank you to Netgalley, Georgia Foster and RedDoor Publishing for the ARC.
Blackberry Lemon and Thyme Coconut Water
Since I have not been drinking I have been looking for non-alcoholic ways to satisfy my thirst that were also interesting. Because let’s face it…water can get plain old boring after a while. I didn’t want to load up on carbonated drinks which were full of sugar and if I allowed my love of Coke Zero to run free I would be so caffeinated I would never sleep again!
So I searched through my recipe collection and found a recipe for a Blackberry, Lemon and Thyme Soda from ReclaimingProvincial.com. The site seems to be no longer active but the link will take you to the Facebook page (which, at the time of writing had not been updated since December 2016 which is a real shame!) 😢
I made the same blackberry lemon and thyme syrup as Carey but whilst she added water and carbonation, I kept mine as a syrup. I have added the syrup to sparkling water for some fizz but my favourite way to have it is to add some of the blackberry syrup to a glass over ice and top with coconut water.
This is very refreshing and not too sweet. You can taste the berries, the coconut, the lemon and the herbiness of the thyme so it is also quite a complex drink.
And so pretty to look at!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup of blackberries, slightly muddled (or chopped, if using frozen berries)
- 1/2 cup of raspberries, slightly muddled (or chopped, if frozen)
- approximately 1 dozen sprigs of fresh thyme
- zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 3 cups of water
- 350ml coconut or sparkling water
- ice cubes
- Additional thyme and blackberries to garnish
- Combine the syrup ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by half and is thick and syrupy.
- Remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely.
- Take out a potato masher and mash the berries to get ever last drop of juice out of them.
- Now strain out all the solids.
- Taste. If too sweet add more lemon juice or some citric acid or some red wine or apple cider vinegar. If too tart, add more maple syrup or sugar. (Bear in mind that if you are using it, the coconut water is sweet so do not over sweeten at this stage.
- Pour into a bottle, seal and keep in the fridge until ready for use. This will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. If you can make it last that long.
- When ready to serve, pour fill your glass to about a quarter* with the blackberry syrup. Add plenty of ice and top with coconut or sparkling water.
- *I found a quarter was about right for my taste, you make like it weaker or stronger - play around with the levels of syrup and water to find what works best for you.
- If you did want to make this a cocktail, a splash of gin or vodka wouldn't go astray!
Have a great week!!!
See you next time with some tips for Valentine’s Day feasting!