Preparing your survival kit

percy-pigThe whole point of the planning before your actual Month Off Booze begins is to get you thinking about your motivations and potential hurdles in advance. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.

When the answer to everything is alcohol…

One thing I have realised is that, even 5 years on from stopping drinking, picking up an alcoholic drink is pretty hard-wired in your brain! When you are tired, a quick and easy response is to reach for a drink, the same when you are angry, hungry, stressed, happy or have something to celebrate… Alcohol is the natural accompaniment to most situations and almost any emotion.

So in trying to get through a month off booze, you need to have some replacements at hand – then when you feel yourself reach for a corkscrew, you can disrupt your natural reactions.

We recommend creating a survival kit for your Month Off Booze

It may seem a little melodramatic, but bear with me! The better prepared you are, the less likely you will be tripped up by a very convincing trigger. Your survival kit also has to be personal to you. So the ideas that follow are a guide only.

What is a survival kit and what do you put in it?

A survival kit can be full of things that satisfy an immediate craving or distract you from thinking about opening a bottle. So think through your week, and note down when you imagine you may waver. Do you open a bottle of wine when you start the cooking? Is it after you put the kids to bed? Is it the first round in the pub? Or is it when your colleagues suggest a drink after work?

This could be anything from alternative food and drink (posh pops, nice sweets, your favourite cheddar cheese) to experiences or distractions, a nice long bath, some yoga, ordering a food delivery so you can’t go out after work. If you use alcohol as a reward at the end of a hard day, then you will really need alternatives. 

Do you have any tried and tested ideas?

Well of course we do. In case you want to see other people’s ideas, here is Lior’s blog about writing down things that make her happy (365 to be precise).

Quick fixes:

  • Get some new drinks in the fridge – you will see we are sharing ideas with you every day.
  • Have some nice hot drinks near the kettle as well; herbal infusions or hot chocolate are better than coffee or tea later at night.
  • Food: get your favourites and make them the best you can buy – for me it’s a nice strong cheddar cheese and some very nice Hotel Chocolate treats (not together of course). I have also heard from others who stock up on liquorice, Haribo, or sugar-free Percy Pigs from M&S.
  • Make a sober playlist. Your most uplifting tunes and move a little.
  • Stick on some smells, candles – if I need a pick-me up I put some Neals Yard ‘Energise’ oil (with some techno!)

Distractions that take around 30 minutes:

  • A bath – a luxury we don’t often make time for. Buy some nice bath bombs and treat yourself. 
  • Yoga – online you can do a restorative 30 minutes that will take your mind of wine and limber you up for the long term You get two weeks free with MFML)
  • Box set – find a new one and take some 30 minute bite sized treats from it each day.
  • Walk for a bit – or even run (there is lots of running amongst Club Soda members, but it’s not compulsory!).
  • Snooze – taking a nap is a treat and a distraction – win-win.
  • Read for a bit. Find a new book (or a helpful book), make yourself a new comfy space and escape. 
  • Watch an inspirational talk. Here are our favourite (and relevant) Ted Talks.
  • Try some mediation, Headspace do a free 10 day trial – that will get you through the first 3rd of the programme.

We’ve also listed some free trials that you might want to take advantage of during your MOB!


Including vitamins and minerals in your survival kit

You may find you crave water in the first few weeks. Your body wants hydrating, but there are also some vitamins you can take to undo some of the damage you may have done. 

Vitamins. Vitamins are essential to maintaining growth and normal metabolism because they regulate many physiological processes. Chronic heavy drinking is associated with deficiencies in many vitamins because of decreased food ingestion and, in some cases, impaired absorption, metabolism, and utilization. For example, alcohol inhibits fat absorption and thereby impairs absorption of the vitamins A, E, and D that are normally absorbed along with dietary fats. Vitamin A deficiency can be associated with night blindness, and vitamin D deficiency is associated with softening of the bones.

Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins, which will also be deficient, are all involved in wound healing and cell maintenance. In particular, because vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting, deficiencies of that vitamin can cause delayed clotting and result in excess bleeding. Deficiencies of other vitamins involved in brain function can cause severe neurological damage.  Vitamins B-1, B-3 and B-6, or thiamine, niacin and pyridoxine, are directly or indirectly involved in alcohol metabolism, and they are among the first nutrients to be depleted by excessive alcohol consumption.  Your liver needs glutathione and other antioxidants to detoxify alcohol, and these compounds are not efficiently regenerated if we drink too much or too often.  Since glutathione may also be required for optimal vitamin B-12 function, heavy alcohol use creates a B-12 deficiency. Furthermore, an alcohol-damaged liver is less capable of storing vitamin B-12. Finally, vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, is needed to regenerate glutathione, so this vitamin, too, is depleted by alcohol.

Minerals. Deficiencies of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc are common although alcohol itself does not seem to affect the absorption of these minerals. Rather, deficiencies seem to occur secondary to other alcohol-related problems: decreased calcium absorption due to fat malabsorption; magnesium deficiency due to decreased intake, increased urinary excretion, vomiting, and diarrhoea; iron deficiency related to gastrointestinal bleeding; and zinc malabsorption or losses related to other nutrient deficiencies. Mineral deficiencies can cause a variety of medical consequences from calcium-related bone disease to zinc-related night blindness and skin lesions.

I started taking a daily multivitamin & multimineral, omega oils 3.6 & 9 and a 1000mg Vitamin C.  Milk thistle is also good for liver detoxification.

If you read Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Bible he also recommends:

Antioxidant complex – these are substances that are capable of counteracting the damaging, but normal, effects of the physiological process of oxidation. Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as enzymes (proteins in your body that assist in chemical reactions). Oxidative stress occurs when the production of harmful molecules called free radicals is beyond the protective capability of the antioxidant defenses.  Antioxidants are a group of nutrients that can reduce the risk of numerous disorders that may be caused by free radical damage.

Adaptogenic herbs including ginseng, liquorice and rhodiola. Plus tyrosine, which helps to prevent emotional and physical lows after stopping.

Bone mineral complex (including calcium and magnesium)

L-Glutamine twice a day on an empty stomach – which helps the gut and reduces cravings.

He also says that a very alkaline diet reduces the cravings for alcohol and recommends a diet high in whole grains, beans and lentils and frequent meals containing protein such as nuts, seeds, fish,, chicken, eggs or milk produce.  Oh and lots and lots of water.

He also warns that sugar addiction is often substituted for dependency on alcohol, as booze is just liquid sugar, so avoiding sugar and stimulants is recommended.  I’ve recently been re-taking the L-Glutamine to help sugar cravings now that the alcohol cravings have totally gone.

Your actions for today

  • Watch a short video from the October 2015 MOB, where Helen and Laura talk more about survival kits.
  • Read more about helpful and unhelpful people, and write a list of people who you know will be supportive of your MOB, or who you know you need to get on board with what you are trying to achieve. Commit to telling them before you start.
  • If you haven’t already done so, visit the private Club Soda Facebook group and just say ‘hello’. If you want to, join the conversation about how people can help or hinder our goals.

Coming up

Tomorrow we continue our planning. We will think about why we’re doing a MOB, what the benefits might be, and how to make best use of the Club Soda community during this month.

References to some of the science discussed above:

2 Responses to “Preparing your survival kit

  • Hi, really helpful article. (currently Sober Sprint, day 4, going well). However the link to free trials is no longer working on this page. It’s coming up with a 404. Is it available elsewhere please? Thanks, Kim

  • Jussi Tolvi
    5 years ago

    Oops! The free trials article has indeed moved, you can find it here:
    Have also fixed the link in the article, thanks for pointing it out Kim!

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