I’m in a Facebook group where the members are all ‘women of a certain age’ (i.e. those going through perimenopause or menopause).
It’s a great group and the women are funny and supportive – exactly what you need when hot flushes, unwanted weight gain and fluctuating mood swings are playing havoc with your physical and mental wellbeing.
However, a recent post on the group reminded me how much we believe that alcohol is the solution to so many of life’s challenges.
The gist of the post was that one woman was reaching out to the group asking if gin and tonic was less likely to cause hot flushes than wine. She’d mentioned that she’d cut back on alcohol because she realised that whenever she drank she had more hot flushes and sleepless nights. She asked if gin was less likely to create those issues.
I was frustrated with her question because it mirrored the questions I was asking myself before choosing to go alcohol free. While I knew that alcohol exacerbated my perimenopause symptoms and led to other issues including sinus problems, hay fever and breathlessness when exercising, the idea of actually giving it up was not an option.
When red wine led to awful sinus headaches, I simply turned to white wine. When white wine was leading to breathlessness when I exercised, I decided vodka would be a better alternative. This swapping out one toxic substance for another was a pattern that happened over years and I never once thought: “You know what, maybe regularly pouring alcohol into my body isn’t good for it and it is giving me very clear signs that it does not like this substance.”
So, back to the Facebook post. It led to a robust discussion with dozens of comments providing advice on the best alcohol to drink (i.e. the one with the least side effects).
The whole conversation demonstrated just how strong our beliefs around alcohol are, due to the insidious nature of alcohol marketing and the messages we’ve received throughout our lives. We then continue to reinforce these messages to each other in social media groups and conversations with friends.
I finally did find a drink (in fact many drinks) to swap out with the alcohol that was causing so many adverse reactions. I swapped to alcohol-free drinks, and was astounded by the great range of non-alcoholic wines, beers and spirits.
And the best thing about that change? Most of the symptoms I’d previously attributed to perimenopause, wonky hormones and ageing are now no longer an issue for me!
(Image: Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels)