How I changed my relationship with alcohol



Last month, when I mentioned it my dream dinner including sparkling water, several readers have wondered why I didn’t choose the white wine (with which I had a long love affair). Here’s why …

During the 1930s, I drank alcohol regularly. I nurtured a ritual putting the boy to bed, entering the quiet kitchen and pouring a cold glass of white wine. The restraining acidity hinted at a transition from a work day to a relaxing evening, complemented by an adult conversation and perhaps a Frasier replay (she Niles!) The glass was a reward for parenting two crazy kids and a way to turn off my dizzying brain right now.

I also loved learning about wine; it’s exciting to be an enthusiast! I learned how to navigate the restaurant’s wine lists. I learned to distinguish between grassy Sauvingnon Blanc and peachy Vermentino. I made friends with the guys at the wine shop and followed them funny wine columnists.

In addition, wine seemed to make life bigger. A glass of a pink summer evening, a chilled Grüner with salty chips before a meal, a flute of champagne at a friend’s wedding – what could be better? “People who really love wine consider it an ordinary part of their meals, like salt or bread,” he wrote Eric Asimov in the New York Times. “Regular consumption is the most important characteristic of a confident wine lover.” That was me!

But as time went on, my alcohol intake became slippery. I realized that I regularly drink two glasses of wine at night – more if we go to dinner or a party. I had a nagging feeling that the alcohol wasn’t under my control, but I pushed it away. I occasionally tried to take a break, but I would only do it a few nights before I was treated to just one pour, which led to a second, maybe a third. I made sure I at least didn’t feel any side effects from drinking, like a headache or a hangover. It is also chic and European! I come from a British stock! It’s part of my larger family culture. It is OK.

Cut to 2021. Throughout the pandemic winter, wine bottles filled a recycling bin. But in February, my phone rang. “Who is ready for the three-week health challenge?” my friend Jordan sent a message to me and a few other women. Her suggestion was simple: eat healthy food, walk 10K + steps a day and exclude alcohol. I ignored my nerves and typed the answer, “It’s me.”

The first night was the hardest. Around 8pm I craved a drink; Irritably, I headed to my bedroom to read a book and stay away from the fridge. (I also poured a glass of soda so I could have a drink.) But that really it helped me to know how to fit a text group. Every night we would say to each other, “I did it today!” The group was counting on you.

The other night I felt less tempted; third night, less calm; until somehow, after about a week, alcohol, which was such a constant part of my adult life, wasn’t something I thought about much. (This surprised no one more than me.)

Something else was going on at the same time. Without daily drinking, I felt much more alert, energetic, and clear. When the boys came to wake us up in the morning, my eyes would open – good morning, world! Writer Sarah Levy he said abstaining from alcohol “feels like waking up in clean sheets every day,” and that sounds true.

I suddenly wondered: all this time, when I believed that alcohol didn’t affect me, was I actually a little hungover every day years?

I haven’t drunk much since February these days. Sometimes I make exceptions. My father visited last month and we shared a bottle of Italian wine my favorite neighborhood restaurant. We tasted hints of honey and pineapple, and our cheeks became flushed and warm. I still love the flavors and feel. So I can occasionally drink wine at dinner or on special occasions. But for now, for this time in my life, the decision seems right.

I am so curious: what is your relationship with alcohol? How do you feel? I’d like to hear it.

PS Three flavored waters, i “how quitting drinking changed my life. ”

(Photo by Sophia Hsin / Stocksy.)

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