Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate.
Give up all alcohol from Ash Wednesday until Easter
Many people choose to do a version of ‘wellness’ spring cleaning, whether it’s giving up something post-Mardi Gras (for Lent or not), a belated resolution reboot, or simply an expansion of our continued journey of self-awareness.
And we get it. The idea of going alcohol-free for an extended period may be daunting. Drinking is layered into so much of our culture, and easily becomes engrained as part of our weekly, or sometimes daily routines.
On the plus side, you don’t have to go it alone. This challenge comes with ample support throughout. And trust us, the rewards are so worth it.
Join for free or pay just $49 to receive in-depth pre- and post-challenge metrics! The free version is for a personal challenge only and does not include pre or post-challenge labs or other metrics.
Sign up by January 15th, 2024 and pay only $39.
1. Registration for #AFF40 2024 will open on January 1, 2024 at 12:00am.
2. Join the #AlcoholFreeFor40 group on Facebook click here. There, you can send messages and ask questions, follow the journey of others, and share your own experiences, challenges, successes, zero-proof cocktail recipes and photos. Visit now to see messages from past participants.
4. Listen to Molly Kimball's podcast with Melanie Warner Spencer "Alcohol and Nutrition: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly".
(Registration begins January 1, 2024)
Take the time to establish your baseline metrics. Do this before you stop drinking, or shortly after.
Or sign up with your region and we will do your health analysis for you!
This self-experiment isn’t about saying that alcohol is a bad thing. We’re all familiar with the potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, including boosting our “good” HDL cholesterol and reducing our overall risk of heart disease. (By the way, “moderate” drinking is defined as not more than seven drinks a week for women, and not more than 14 per week for men).
But what we don’t seem to hear as much about are the potential drawbacks of even just slightly-above-“moderate” alcohol consumption that can outweigh potential health benefits.
Drawbacks to even casual drinking include inflammation, where you can see and feel the puffiness and redness in your eyes, your face, your whole body. But that’s just the inflammation that we can see and feel. Inflammation is also happening on a cellular level, the type of inflammation that increases our risk for more significant issues, such as heart disease, liver disease, stroke, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
Alcohol interferes with our sleep patterns. It may make it easier to fall asleep, but it also makes it harder to stay asleep. It also can hinder our quality of deep sleep. The immediate result: foggy thinking and low energy. And we know that sleep is intricately linked to our weight, so it’s not just the calories from alcohol that are a concern when it comes to weight – this continued pattern of disrupted sleep can also directly contribute to increased abdominal fat and weight gain.
Interestingly, we tend to think of alcohol as something that relaxes us, but if we take it even just a little too far, it can have the exact opposite effect. Alcohol can actually inhibit our ability to manage stress, interfering with our body’s stress response, which can exacerbate any underlying anxiety issues.
Even if you aren’t drinking so much that you’re likely to be at an increased risk for these more serious side effects, for those of us who just drink regularly – one or two drinks a day, for example – it’s likely that we’re feeling less-than-optimal in our daily lives. Our baseline “normal” just isn’t as solid as it could be. Yet it seems normal, because we’re used to it. We may not even realize that, every day, we’re actually a bit sub-par, with a general low-level feeling of sluggishness that we’ve come to live with as “normal”.
So, that’s why we’re proposing this self-experiment of a 40-day alcohol detox.
Within days you’ll notice more energy, improved sleep quality, clearer eyes with less under-eye circles.
Within one week you’ll notice less fluid retention and can start to see brighter skin (conditions like rosacea often improve). You’ll also likely notice fewer cravings, along with better mental clarity and focus.
Within a month you can start to see and feel the changes in weight (particularly if alcohol was contributing a significant bit of excess calories) as well as healthier hair, nails and digestion.
Beyond 40 days: The benefits aren’t limited to just the days of the challenge. Feedback from past participants is that for many, the Alcohol Free for 40 challenge is a reset that stays with them as a part of a broader lifestyle change.
Even if they go back to drinking, the frequency and volume of alcohol tends to be less, and their awareness of their drinking patterns is enhanced. A 2018 review from the University of Sussex validated this with similar results, finding that people who participated in “Dry January” drank about 25 percent less often. Of the participants, 58 percent saw lost weight, 67 percent had more energy and 71 percent slept better.
Consider cutting sugar and white carbs. In the years that we’ve led and taken part in this challenge, we have heard from participants that cravings for sugary treats and carb-loaded dishes become more intense during the challenge. Replacing alcohol with such foods can lead to weight gain and feeling sluggish. To combat that, we’re recommending that folks consider eliminating refined carbs, such as sugar, pasta and white bread, from their diet. If that’s too big a lift, then at least consider significantly cutting back on such foods for the duration.