What Is Dry January and Is It Really Worth the Hype?

Sobering up for a month could have long-term benefits.

Photo by: heatherwalker/Getty

heatherwalker/Getty

The holiday hangover is real! Should you partake in a "dry January" to help detox from the December hoopla? Find out what all the hype is about.

What Is Dry January?

The rules are pretty simple, commit to parting ways with wine, beer and spirits for all 31 days of the month. First made popular in the U.K., the logic behind this pledge is all about detoxing after holiday indulgences and making a resolution towards better health. You’ll also find plenty of encouragement for backing off on the booze on the Internet — hashtags are all over social media.

Pros

Cutting out alcohol completely for a fixed (and relatively short) period of time may be reasonable to adhere to, plus doing this may increase self-awareness around how often you typically drink. While dry January is not a weight loss plan, frequent drinkers may see a substantial calorie savings considering each serving of alcohol averages about 100 calories — and that’s before the mixers get involved.

Saying bye-bye to booze has also been tied to better sleep, and who couldn’t use a few more zzzz’s after the holidays? Since excessive alcohol consumption can be harmful to your liver, brain and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems, you may be doing your entire body a favor by cutting back. For some, this reprieve from alcohol may lead to a bigger commitment to drinking less the remaining 11 months of the year.

Cons

Cutting out alcohol aligns with any other restrictive eating plan when it comes to certain social escapades. Whether it’s a special occasion, regular social outing, happy hour or even just a quiet and relaxing night a home, there’s a good chance that cocktail will be sorely missed if ditched for weeks. If you want to be more “glass half empty” about dry January, there’s only so much good 1-month hiatus will do if you go back to your old habits on midnight February 1st.

Bottom Line: If you are motived for a dry January, go for it. The best long term solution may be capping your alcohol intake to the recommended 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks for men.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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