Discover more from Well Well Well with Rosamund Dean
We need to talk about drinking
Sign up to receive Well Well Well in your inbox every Tuesday. It might just change your life
If you’re a subscriber of this newsletter then you probably already know that my first book came out back in 2017. Mindful Drinking: how cutting down can change your life is a tip-packed guide to reducing your alcohol intake. The thinking behind it was that there exist lots of books on how to stop drinking. But most people don’t want to stop completely, they just want to be able to cut back.
This week, you can hear me chatting with Holly Tucker on her Conversations of Inspiration podcast. We talk about my new book, Reconstruction: how to rebuild your body, mind and life after a breast cancer diagnosis, but also about Mindful Drinking.
A short reel to promote the episode sounded like I was segueing from talking about alcohol to breast cancer, which might be interpreted as if I’m blaming my cancer diagnosis (or anyone else’s for that matter) on booze. That is absolutely not the case. There are many social and cultural factors that contribute to an environment that produces certain behaviours, and I don’t think that shame or blame have any place in this conversation.
Drinking certainly increases your risk of breast cancer, there’s no getting away from that, but every case is different and multifactorial. Even after having had breast cancer, I’m not completely sober, although I very rarely drink now and it’s been a looooong time since I’ve been drunk-drunk. I know that some people find it easier to be completely teetotal, whereas others enjoy a regular drink so much that cutting back feels like too much of a sacrifice.
I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution. This is important to say, because I know it can stir up strong feelings, as people feel ‘judged’ whatever choice they make around drinking. Well, not by me! Everyone’s different and, while I’m always trying to help people be healthier, you can only start from where you are.
I’ve just written an article for the Telegraph about drinking, and I’m steeling myself for it being published because I know that, whenever I write about moderate drinking, I get criticised by both sides. The nondrinkers feel it’s irresponsible to suggest that any amount of drinking can be ‘healthy’, while the big drinkers don’t want to hear that they ought to cut back.
The thing is, I’m not telling anyone what to do. I would never. All I’m doing is sharing advice for anyone who wants to drink less alcohol, but is finding that relying on will-power alone is more difficult than they thought. (Spoiler: this never works.)
If you don’t want to drink less alcohol, or indeed you don’t want to drink any alcohol, then you don’t have to read my book - or anything that I write about drinking. It’s not for you. It’s for all the people that I know it’s helped.
Since writing Mindful Drinking six years ago, I’ve had hundreds of messages from readers telling me their drinking stories. And, interestingly, many of them found that they were so much happier after reducing the amount of alcohol in their lives that they have effortlessly become alcohol-free.
They write to thank me because they would never have imagined themselves to be the kind of person who could do sober socialising, or even sober dating. They would never have picked up a book about giving up drinking altogether. But Mindful Drinking was the gateway guide they needed to show them that they could do it.
I’m not saying that my book is there to trick you into being sober. I’ve had just as many messages from people thanking me for helping them become capable of having a glass of wine without having to polish off the bottle. All I’m saying is that you might surprise yourself.
As with every element of health and wellness, it’s about finding what works for you. If we ignore binge drinking for now (as I don’t think anyone would try and argue that that’s in any way healthy), then I do believe it’s possible to have a long and healthy life that includes regular moderate drinking. Just look at the Blue Zones, where some of the longest-living people on earth have a small wine every evening. There are so many different interconnecting factors at play in what constitutes a good life that I’m certainly not going to judge anyone whose version of it looks different to my own.
This week I’m…
Excited to see The Change, Bridget Christie’s comedy drama about a menopausal woman who runs away from her life. Starting tomorrow at 10pm on Channel 4.
Listening to Maisie Peters’ glorious new album The Good Witch, out on Friday
Quite fascinated to see if Jennifer Lawrence’s controversial new movie No Hard Feelings is a batshit as it looks, also out on Friday
Despite myself, will be watching the second season of And Just Like That… for the heavily-hyped return of Aidan and a Samantha cameo. On Sky Comedy from Monday