It’s that time of year again! Now that the festive season is over and the time for indulgence is done with for another year, many people take part in Dry January to kick start their New Year the healthy way. Cutting down on your alcohol intake is never a bad thing, so whether you’ve signed up to a completely dry January or you’re simply looking to cut back, there are some easy things you can do to lower your alcohol intake, and enjoy a fuller wallet this month too!


Cut down completely for one month: Join Dry January

Dry January has become increasingly popular, with the campaign now in its 5th year to help change the conversation around drinking and alcohol. Giving up alcohol for the 31 days of January can help you lose weight, save money as well as free up time that otherwise would have been wasted being hungover. With no downside, it’s even easier to take part with more of your friends and colleagues also likely to be going dry this month.

If you’re unconvinced by the effects of Dry January then you should take a look at this report which details the results of last year’s campaign. It found that 49% of people who took part lost weight, 62% had more energy and slept better, and a huge 79% of participants saved money. As well as having effects for individuals, it is also a great way to raise money for the many people whose lives are affected by alcohol each year.

The campaign has also launched an app to help you keep a daily record of your efforts, allowing you to monitor your progress and see what you’ve achieved when the month is over. The app also sends daily messages of motivation, tips, articles and even recipes to help you enjoy a healthier January.


Can’t cut down completely? Cut back

It’s not easy for everyone to cut down completely on alcohol – work functions, social events and more can make it difficult to avoid alcohol completely and that’s fine, you can still cut back.

Some good ways to cut down on your alcohol intake when going out include setting a limit for how many drinks/units you’re going to have (which you can track with this handy Drinks Tracker from NHS Choices for Apple or Google Play), or setting yourself a budget for the night. You can also try swapping your drinks for some which have lower strength levels (ABV percentages), or swapping the sizes – half a pint instead of a pint, a smaller glass of wine or a single instead of a double. You’ll instantly find that your moods are better, your energy levels are improved and you may even lose some lbs too.

Even those doing Dry January can benefit from cutting back for the rest of the year. Binge drinking is known to have a number of detrimental effects on health, whilst drinking too much alcohol can also have an effect on your immunity and your heart health, not to mention your liver.


What to do if you’re concerned about yours or someone else’s drinking

In the UK, the recommended maximum units of alcohol a week is 14, which should be spread across the week rather than being ‘saved up’. If you regularly exceed this, or are concerned about someone else who does, there is help available to you. Drink Aware is a fantastic organisation which has plenty of resources to help you if you are concerned about alcohol consumption, and is the charity behind Dry January. You can also make an appointment with your GP if you are concerned about the impact that alcohol is having on your health.

You can find more resources for cutting down on alcohol and its effects on your health on the Live Well pages of the NHS Choices website. Get your year off to a healthy start with Dry January and cutting down on your alcohol intake. Set yourself a challenge and see the difference it could make to your health in just one month.