Cutting Alcohol Out of My Diet – and the Impact on My Life So Far
Written by Kaci Smith
Photo on the left: October 2021 (before eliminating alcohol from my diet)
Photo on the right: March 2022 (after eliminating alcohol from my diet)
Only 5 lb difference
Cutting alcohol out of my diet has made a significant impact on my life in so many ways. I want to shout it from the rooftops because it’s been THAT life changing. That being said, I’ve been holding off on sharing an update on this – because if I’m honest, I still feel a little weird about it. When people find out that I no longer drink — I feel myself getting self conscious that they’re either thinking that I must have had a drinking problem, that I’m trying to hide a pregnancy, or I notice that some people get a bit defensive and feel the need to explain their own relationship with alcohol.
Let me just address that part now – I don’t feel that anybody else should change their drinking habits just because it’s working for me. I’m also not saying I’ll never drink again. I’ve had a couple of drinks, a couple of times this year – and the world has kept spinning.
I’m mostly sharing in hopes that if you’ve been in a similar position and you’re looking for different ways to improve your life, wellness, sleep, anxiety, etc. – that this can give you some insight into how it’s worked well (for me.)
As you may know, I’ve been on a mission to address and “fix” my postpartum anxiety and depression. I felt totally helpless and not in control of my moods after my first child, and going into having the second one — I knew that I was going to take my power back and do everything I could to improve my mental health that time around. While I didn’t have immediate postpartum anxiety or depression issues after having Scottie — I did notice late last year (right around when she was going to turn one) that I was starting to have what I’d call “anxiety days” about 3-5 times per month. The rest of the month, everything was typical and good — but those 3-5 days per month when the anxiety was back — it sucked. The intrusive thoughts, insomnia, and OCD was starting to take control over those days, and I was over it.
I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist that focuses on postpartum / women’s health and met with her. We discussed some of my triggers and the context around why I believe I have anxiety and she helped me with techniques to sort of shift my mindset or at least be aware that when those thoughts come into my brain – how to redirect or change the story. Even just knowing the “why” and acknowledging that I’m feeling a certain way because of XYZ is/was helpful. In addition to those techniques, we also talked about medication options. I wasn’t quite ready to start anxiety medication due to the fact that I was still having a lot more good days than bad, and it wasn’t as bad as it had been the first time around. I decided that I’d change my lifestyle and some of the habits I had in my every day life to see if they made any sort of impact. If it didn’t help, I’d go on the medication.
The biggest two areas that I focused on in the beginning of what I’ll call my “wellness journey” were sleep and cutting back on alcohol. I will do a separate post on sleep – because focusing on that has been a total game changer as well. For today’s post, we’ll stick with the alcohol journey.
Late last year, I started thinking about alcohol and some of it’s effects it can have on people. I follow and listen to a a lot of people’s podcasts who choose not to drink, and kept hearing about how life changing it could be. I also knew that alcohol is a depressant, and so I figured — of course it was not helping my anxiety, and was likely making it worse. Starting in November of 2021, I decided I would only be drinking alcohol for holidays / special events — and cut it completely from dinners out, random get togethers with friends, glass(es) of wine with dinner, etc. I knew that a lot of holidays were coming up- and I wanted to be realistic and still enjoy those days – so that’s how I started.
The first 1-2 weeks of cutting it back, I didn’t notice a huge impact. I really only drank on weekends if we’d go out to dinner or do something social, so not having it over a weekend or two wasn’t a big change. But after about the 2.5-3 week mark, I started feeling really good. Energetic, better sleep, and just lighter. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I didn’t even want to drink. I had one glass of red wine with dinner and called it.
This is where I really started to notice the impact not drinking alcohol was having on my sleep. I was falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and wasn’t waking up feeling lethargic or groggy. I had energy to not only play with the kids but to want to play with the kids. Even though I didn’t drink a ton of alcohol and rarely drank during week days – I would feel the lingering effects of it for several days after. Now I believe my body doesn’t process it well in general – and that it was causing a lot of inflammation I didn’t even know I had. Before I cut back / stopped drinking, I just thought I was tired because I have two little kids. But once it was out of my system – a whole new world opened up to me and I felt so much better.
As the weeks went on I felt better and better. Sleep got better and better. Energy levels — you guessed it – better and better. By January 1 – I had decided I was not only going to cut back on alcohol, but cut it completely from my life – not forever – but until further notice.
Guys – I love (loved) wine. I loved the experience of it — the smell, taste, social aspect…all of it. I’ve been to wine country in both Italy and Northern California (many times!) – and I thought that because of that, I’d never want to give it up. But I am being completely honest when I say I don’t miss wine or alcohol in general. The social aspect of not having a glass of wine or cocktail at dinner with friends was weird at first. For the first couple of months I felt like I had to explain my decision not to drink, or hastily say “I’m not pregnant!” — but after a while it just became normal for me and didn’t feel weird anymore. I like to get mock-tails at restaurants – and at home I will do a sparkling water in a wine glass with ice, raspberries, and fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. Added perks are that we don’t ever have to think about alternative transportation options, I’m usually very hydrated, I never wake up hungover, and my sleep has never been better (as an adult).
Before I stopped drinking – my sleep was terrible – whether or not I’d had alcohol that night. I would usually have a really hard time falling and staying asleep, my anxiety was through the roof on those 3 or so “anxiety” days each month, and like I said earlier – I had a lot of inflammation. I felt swollen, bloated, lethargic, anxious. And guys — I say all that – but it’s not like I was miserable. I notice the difference now because I feel SO MUCH BETTER. But before I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was going about my life and totally thought how I felt was normal. I am an overall “happy” and positive person. I generally have good energy. I have a good social life. I enjoy my time with my family, friends, and children. But I’d say 20-30% of me was always feeling the affects of alcohol inside my body, but I thought it was just normal to feel that way (as an adult with young children.) On nights where I would drink – I’d have an easier time falling asleep but could never stay asleep. I’d wake up – my brain would spiral, I’d get social anxiety and worry about what I’d said or things I’d done when I was drinking…even if I hadn’t done anything “embarrassing” – I’d still be cringing at myself in my brain. It was just such a waste of sleep and energy.
My skin is better, inflammation is way down, energy is up, and my mood has truly improved ten fold. I’ve lost some weight over the past 9 months or so (from other wellness habits) – and I attribute about 5 lbs of that to not drinking alcohol. However – when I look at pictures of myself — specifically the ones I shared above — from before and after I cut it, it’s crazy how different I look. Between the two pictures, there’s only a 5 lb difference – but I’m so much less bloated/inflamed.
The best part? In the beginning, I’d say within the first couple of months, my anxiety immediately went from 3-5x/month to 1-2 days/month. Now – I’d say I have anxiety days 1 day or less (often 0 times) per month. Isn’t that amazing??
All that being said, along with cutting alcohol, I’ve been implementing a lot of other positive / wellness habits into my life that have also made a big difference – which I will share on the blog soon. I’m sort of “habit stacking” positive behaviors and it’s been awesome. But cutting alcohol was a huge gateway to improving my life and I am so grateful to have had such a positive experience and change so far.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or DM me on Instagram! xoxo, Kaci