5 Things I Learned After I Quit Drinking In Toronto For A Month & Yes, I'd Do It Again
My social life wasn't the same.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Canada's recent update of its alcohol guidelines last year was a wake-up call for me. As a Torontonian, I had always been surrounded by alcohol, whether it was at social gatherings or even just grabbing a drink after work.
But the guidelines made it clear that even small amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact on our health, and the recommended maximum weekly intake of alcohol is two drinks or less. It was daunting, but I decided to take a bold step and go cold turkey for a month to figure out how to quit drinking and eventually adhere to Canada's alcohol guidelines.
The journey to quitting drinking wasn't easy, and I encountered several challenges along the way. Nonetheless, I was determined to improve my health and find ways to enjoy social activities without alcohol. I began exploring non-alcoholic drink options in Toronto, seeking support from my loved ones, and experimenting with new ways to cope with stress.
Here are five things I learned from the experience:
My first two weeks were actually the easiest
Rhythm Sachdeva seen having a drink. Right: Friends having a toast.
I was amazed by how easy my first two weeks were. I thought I was invincible every time I confidently declined a drink when someone offered it. I thought I could do it forever.
However, once the initial two weeks had passed, I began to experience strong desires for a glass of wine to unwind after a long day or even daydreaming about my favourite cocktail being expertly crafted at a nearby bar. This is where the true test of my willpower began.
I started eating healthier
I quickly realized that when I indulged in foods like burgers or fries, my likelihood of also having a drink skyrocketed. It wasn't just fast food - I found that when I allowed myself to eat what I deemed "unhealthy" food, it felt easier to justify having a drink since I was already veering off the path of good habits.
The more healthy, homemade food I ate, the less likely I was to have a drink or even want to drink. This even applied when I ordered "relatively" healthier meals at restaurants like soups, salads or white meat. They kind of went hand-in-hand, so giving up alcohol also made me much more diligent in the food department.
My social life took a dive
Bar in Toronto. Rhythm Sachdeva with a drink.
I was taken aback by the number of people who labelled me as "boring" for abstaining from alcohol during a night out. Admittedly, I've always been known as someone who enjoyed a good drink and was up for a night of bar hopping.
However, as I continued to opt for water or mocktails, I noticed that many of my companions became increasingly disappointed with my choice. There were even instances where my partner and I struggled to come up with plans for a Friday night since most bars and restaurants felt off-limits during my no-alcohol month.
It was eye-opening to see how prominent a role alcohol plays in our social culture.
My health benefits were subtle
I didn't see many health benefits when I first quit alcohol for a month. But later on, I realized I was sleeping better, drinking more water, and feeling less tired at the end of the day.
It was hard for me to start drinking again
The most surprising effect of my month-long alcohol break was how my body reacted when I started drinking again. It seemed like my body was actually rejecting alcohol, and even the smell of certain drinks made me feel nauseous. I had to stay away from alcohol for a while and gradually reintroduce it into my life. Now, I am able to enjoy one or two drinks per week, which is in line with what health experts recommend for optimal health.
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