How it Works – the Benefits of Dryness

5520526753_af3a1610e7_oOf course there are Benefits from going alcohol free, or simply cutting back.

Check out this article on HuffPost – where they affirm the multitudes choosing January as the month to Go Dry, Go Easy, or dry out after an alcohol soaked X-mas season.

Some of you may be choosing to do this because you are following along on Ready to be Thirsty – our annual challenge to go booze free for a month.  Or you might do it on your own, or as inspired by one of the Dry January campaigns out there.  Whether you are trying to get healthy or trying to raise money for a good cause, there a big bunch of awesome benefits for making the attempt:

  • Recoup your liver – it takes time for tissues to heal, enzymes to rebuild
  • Better hydration – give your cells a non-alcoholic beverage!
  • Mental clarity – gee whiz, I can think my way through the fog…
  • Reduced calories – you’ll get slimmer if you cut alcohol intake and replace with veggies instead of sugar
  • Extra cash – less money on booze means more cash in your pocket
  • Better sleep – your rhythms improve without alcohol to mess them up
  • No hangovers!

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Photo by Reuben Ingber via Flickr. Creative Commons.  No changes. 

A Dry White Season Reason

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Once again, not against my better judgement but actually using my better judgement, I will attempt to GO DRY this January.

Yep – January this year.  Like the Brits, doing their Dry January

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Or an amalgam of Canadian charities doing their Dry January

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Or a British Columbia charity, BeYouPromise.Org, hosting their Dry January:

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Seems like everyone is doing this sober thing in January.  Makes sense.  In December you’ll be doing some serious indulging.  You’ll be gorging yourself on butter tarts and beer, turkey and tequila, whiskey, wine and wasabi.   You’ll be engorged with the Holiday Spirit(s)!

And then you’ll be spending time whooping it up on New Year’s Eve, either at a party or parties, or strangely alone on your couch.  Any which way, you’ll have tied it on, soaked it up, drank it down, ate the roast beast and otherwise heard the Whos who-whoing down in Whoville.

And maybe, just maybe… you’ll need a break from the boxes and soxes, the drinking and slinking.  If you do pause from boozing, it’s weight you’ll be losing.  If you break from misbehaving, it’s money you’re saving.  And if you stop getting wetter, your sleeping’ll be better…

Don’t make me steal the sobriety alone.  Go Thirsty this January.

 

Shake Shake Shake your Chibuku

Above, you see a group of rugby players attempting to try an African-produced beer-type drink called Chibuku Shake Shake.  This is technically ‘beer’, but not as we know it.  It’s a thick milky, brown-ish alcoholic beverage from Africa, made from sorghum.

As you can see in the video, it is served in a milk carton.  Interestingly, it’s alcohol content is not constant – as it is first packaged, it starts with a very low concentration, and gradually increases over time (after you buy it, if you don’t drink it right away, it gets stronger).  But, after about a week on the shelf, you wouldn’t want to drink it anymore, as it goes bad.  In fact, seeing this video, you may not want to drink it at all, as it appears pretty bad to begin with!

I learned about Chibuku from the following map:

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This is from the BBC – a world map of the favorite or most commonly consumed alcohol drinks across the world.

Orange countries love beer.  Yellow colored countries prefer spirits (aka ‘hard liquor’), and red countries dig their wine.  But those green countries – they love ‘other beverages’ – which led me to discovering Chibuku and a variety of other interesting and obscure variants out there.

Follow this link to article and the BBC Booze Calculator.  This will let you plug in your own weekly consumption habits and compare to international drinkers and countries the world over.  Not sure how much Chibuku you’re chugging down, but maybe you want to check out how much beer Canadians actually consume…

 

Session Impression

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Recently I was reading another Blog about ‘session-ability‘.   This is a new-age marketing term (actually stolen from the past) used to describe the drinking or consumption characteristics of certain Craft beers.   The blog itself, if you’re a beer drinker, is very engaging.

Read it here.

Before I give my thoughts on what a ‘sessionable’ beer might really mean to us, let’s examine a few more beer marketing terms and notions.

Drinkable – if your beer is drinkable, I suppose that means that you can, you know, drink it.  Or drink lots of it, I guess.

Less-filling – if your beer is less filling, it would mean you may not be as bloated if you drink a whole bunch of it.  It still fills your bladder, however.

Cold-filtered – many beers are filtered to get out the crap and junk you wouldn’t want to drink, like impurities, bacteria or gunk.  Interesting how the industry is using their mandate to not poison us as a term to make their beer somehow more desirable. Here’s picture from Wikipedia showing some of the stuff filtered from beer, during the brewing process:

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Just like any other product, brewers use stories, imagery, feelings and brand identification to sell their products.  They want to convince you to be thirsty and to be loyal to their brand and to drink lots of their beer.

Sessionable !  A beer is sessionable if you can drink lots of it and it doesn’t distract too much from the activity you are doing or conversation you are having, concurrent to drinking.  And, it may have a slightly reduced alcohol-content from a regular strength beer, such that you can engage in a longer session – drinking lots and lots of beer.

Maybe it’s just me, but the last time I managed to limit myself to one or two beers, instead of a whole epic ‘session’, I enjoyed it a lot more.  In fact, I have a tendency to regret anything epic I do in regards to alcohol, and I presume this is a fairly common feeling.

Beer glass photo by Rob Nyugen, via Creative Commons. No changes.

PONG !!

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No, not that Pong.  This Pong:

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Beer Pong.  You know, that game involving ping pong balls and Solo cups and lotsa heavy drinking.

And we can find beer pong ‘kits’ and other drinking paraphernalia at local grocery stores and big box (department) stores that sell beer as an extension of their grocery department.  Funnels or beer ‘bongs’.  Drinking games. Other fun stuff.  All to encourage mass consumption and intoxication.

People love it so much, they’ve built interactive, electronic beer pong tables, as covered by the CBC.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a tad irresponsible to be marketing Beer Pong and the tools of crazy drunkenness in the same place they sell toys, cheese and baby clothes.  We have children, many of whom that cannot discern between colorful things meant for amusement or more nefarious activities, that are going to get the wrong impression.

Big Culture, Big Alcohol

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Alcohol is part of our culture.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that in the past of number of years, the breadth of alcohol culture has increased, -its availability has widened.

It’s a lot more places than it ever used to be…

We see the possibility of booze being consumed where we get our haircut, at Starbucks, at the whole darned festival instead of just the beer tent, on the golf course, at the Farmer’s market.  We can buy it at the Supermarket.

This is in part due to market forces – economics.  Connected to economics and money as a driver, is marketing.  Marketing is the communication between corporate entities and consumer audiences, trying to entice changes in our choices and behaviour.  Marketing is a huge part of how we think, imagine, behave and define our social expectations.

For example, the diamond ring as an engagement present is a relatively new idea, perpetuated through mass marketing of diamonds by the DeBeers corporation.  Essentially, marketing convinced us as a society that diamonds are a symbol of love and commitment…and they sold a whole lot more diamonds after that.  It’s a very famous story.

The same principles hold true to alcohol marketing.  While economics have created pressure to allow alcohol to be available in more places, marketing has worked to create alcohol as a normal, everyday thing – a symbol of fun, ceremony or social exuberance.

Yet, let’s think for a second:

  • no one hands out samples of other recreational drugs at the Supermarket
  • there are no other recreational drugs that are advertised in print, or on television to make us feel we’ll be more attractive, popular, or likely to find a sexual partner if we partake…
  • no other recreational drugs have posters at the bus stop, or on huge billboards, or have hilarious commercials during sporting events
  • no other recreational drugs have massive sponsorship deals to support sports, athletes, car-racing or the arts…

Yet we have all this and much, much more for alcohol, convincing us that alcohol is a normal, fun, exciting, sexy, dynamic, funny, crazy, wonderful thing.  And while any one of us might feel this way in regards to booze for a social occasion or two, the truth is that over-consumption of alcohol is killing us, and costing us billions as a society.

 

Truth in Advertising ??

A compelling documentary on alcohol is attached to this Blog.  It’s long-ish, but maybe you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.

After all – the ‘truth’ in regards to alcohol is a complex one. We’ve got it sold by huge corporate entities, or used as liquid leverage to stimulate tourism.  We love to drink it at parties and gatherings, we use to amplify emotion, and to celebrate and to commiserate.

We are addicted to it…as individuals, and as a society who seems to want it ever more varied and available.

It correlates with crime and violence.

It creates disease.

It facilitates a party.

It shores up confidence (or is it impulsiveness?)

Alcohol has very complex and interwoven truths that filter down through every layer of our society and social lives.  It generates interesting and wild stories.  Some such stories have tragic endings.

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