The holiday season is a time to eat, drink and be merry…. and then drink some more with New Year’s Eve right around the corner. By the time January rolls around, chances are your body has taken a booze-induced beating, so why not treat yourself to a break from it all? Enter “Juiceless January,” ringing in the year with a full month of sobriety.
While the thought of swapping your nightly glass of wine for an herbal tea may sound daunting, kicking the habit until February can help you start the year on the healthiest possible foot. “I will go alcohol-free for a month every year just to get out of the habit,” says nutritionist Lisa Kilgour. “It’s not so fun at first, but it works every time.”
Beth Warren, RND, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life with Real Food, agrees that saying “ta ta” to tequila for a few weeks can have some pretty significant benefits. “Overall, quitting alcohol for a month will cause improvements in physical and mental health,” she says. “You’ll have less fat in the liver and less glucose in the blood. Plus, there is improved memory and focus.”
Here, our experts break down all the reasons you should consider taking a month off from drinking. The challenge is worth it for how amazing you’ll feel once it’s over. Plus, there’s a lot of good stuff coming to Netflix in January, so cozy up with a cup of hot cocoa instead.
You’ll feel better
We all know that alcohol isn’t exactly great for our health. “Alcohol can drain the body of important B vitamins, so kicking the habit can let your body stockpile some extra,” says Kilgour. B vitamins are basically what helps covert our food into fuel, so having an added dose stored up will keep you feeling extra energized.
You’ll smell better
Have you ever woken up from a night of drinking and felt like the scent of alcohol was literally leaking from your pores? As it turns out, you may not be totally wrong. “Giving your liver a break can help reduce body odor,” says Kilgour. Plus, your breath won’t ever smell like beer, which is a definite win for everyone involved.
You’ll look better
In addition to smelling like roses, giving your liver a break from booze will make your skin look better, too. ““Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin,” New York-based nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez tells Vogue. After a month of ditching the hard stuff, you’ll have a newfound glow.
You’ll sleep better
It may feel like a glass of red helps you sleep better, but science has proven that boozing before bed can actually disrupt the second half of your sleep cycle. Alcohol interrupts your circadian rhythm and messes with your REM cycle, so even if it helps you fall asleep, it winds up flipping the switch on you halfway through the night.
You’ll eat better
We’re all guilty of reaching for junk food when we’re drinking, but according to Kilgour, there’s another reason why alcohol can lead to bad food habits: “With poor sleep, our blood sugar is less manageable and our willpower is lower,” she explains, which means you’re more apt to make better choices when there’s no liquor involved and you’ve gotten a good night of shut-eye. Also nice: “As a result of less caloric intake and the tendency to overeat when alcohol is consumed, you may experience weight loss from quitting alcohol,” says Warren.