Cancer related sobriety

Cancer related sobriety

Some of you might know this already but i have stage 4 cancer which spread from breast cancer into my skeleton and bones in 2018. When i first was diagnosed and looked into mortality rates i really gave myself a huge scare. One of the things that i felt like i should do to take part in my treatment is to stop drinking alcohol. Previously i had been quite a big drinker, binge nights with work colleagues, parties, riding my bike home not remembering how i got home, these things were a common occurrence. I told myself that the benefits i would get from not drinking, and therefore focussing more closely on my health would definitely extend my life, and having two young children, i felt that it was my duty to live for as long as i can.

I occasionally still drink, a glass of nice champagne here, a watermelon margarita made by my friend Johan at Eurovision, i find it difficult to stop drinking here and there and my oncologist even said i should think of drinking like a treat, not the norm, but not to be too hard on myself and make sure i have things to look forward to. My onco is fantastic and i really respect and listen to his advice but still, hes not me, hes not the one with cancer.

The difficult thing with stopping drinking with cancer is that , unlike other people who have stopped drinking due to having a 'problem' or its ruined their lives etc, alcohol never specifically ruined my life and i can drink to moderation these days. The problem is that alcohol contains lots of sugar and my type of cancer feeds off sugar. I need to stop having any kinds of drinks that contain sugar. For example in my opinion its healthier for me to have a shot of 100% agave tequila than a glass of coco cola. Also, non alcoholic drinks that are high in sugar are worse for me than a low sugar alcoholic drink. 

So what are my tips? in this blog post i share with you some of the solutions i have come up with in relation to drinking with cancer. Trying to be the healthiest i can be and how alcohol plays a part in my current life. Its not that easy and i don't always manage to practice what i preach but here is how i have managed to stay relatively healthy for the last 5 years. 

1. Get better at saying no

2. Have a big glass of water with vinegar in it before going out

3. Slimline Tonic water

4. Add lime and ice and use nice glasses

5. Get back on the path after a relapse

6. Tell everyone you want to stop having sugar / stopped drinking

7. Botanical spirits

8. Remove sweet drinks from the house

9. Replace alcohol with healthier addictions

10. Hang out with the kids

I will now elaborate on the above points. In many ways these points are similar to the advice i got from listening to podcasts and following IG accounts of people who have stopped drinking alcohol in a non-cancer related context. However the key differences is that i approach alcohol in a way where i allow myself to have a few drinks here and there, i just need to make it a much smaller part of my life. Fortunately i have never counted the days of my sobriety, mainly because i'm not actually sober, i need to have different metrics and still struggle with this grey area when it comes to drinking. 

1. Get better at saying no

I avoid straight drinking situations, for example going to the pub where its just 100% about drinking, this is not a context that is going to help me stay sober. If you are not yet ready to go to parties where everyone is going to be drinking, then don't go. If i put myself smack bang in the middle of temptation, i am much more likely to drink and regret it.

2. Have a big glass of water with vinegar in it before going out

Vinegar with water has been proven to reduce spikes in blood sugar and i have been drinking water with cider vinegear in the mornings for a little while. I find this helps with drinking less alcohol. Here is the science

"The acetic acid in vinegar slows down the rate at which the stomach empties the food you've eaten into the small intestine, which in turn slows the breakdown of carbohydrates and gives the body more time to remove glucose from the blood. This ultimately reduces the spike in blood sugar you'd typically see after eating."

3. Tonic water

Slimline Tonic water naturally tastes very similar to a gin and tonic and its an easy go-to drink for me to have when i am out. I find that having a drink in my hand naturally stops people from asking me if i want a drink, even if it is just tonic or fizzy water with a bit of lime in it. Half the battle is saying no to well meaning hosts!

4. Add lime and ice and use nice glasses

Even a fizzy water will feel special if you drink it out of a nice glass and add garnishes and nice ice. I have been really zooming into beautifully square ice cubes made using silicone trays (muji do a nice one), citrus and other accessories that can elevate a non-alcoholic drink to star status. As with most things it’s the dopamine released in the preparation of the cocktail that is often the most enjoyable part.

5. Get back on the path after a relapse

If you drink more than you wanted to one weekend, or one evening, or even one week, don't give up, just get back on it, and forgive yourself and try to stay positive. 

6. Tell everyone you want to stop having sugar / stopped drinking

By telling my kids that i am not drinking, and not eating sweets such as my favourite which is ice cream, they help me avoid these things by distracting me and reminding me that i should not consume these things. It is a well known fact that when other people (especially kids) hold you accountable it is easier to follow through with your goals.

7. Botanical spirits

There are many nice spirits you can buy to replace things like gin and vodka for mixed drinks (my normal go-to) however these can also be quite pricey. At times i feel that these are worrth it and my favourite are Seedlip, and 0.0 gin from Gordons.

0.0 Gordons Gin

However, there are many botanicals you can use for a fraction of the price to make drinks that mimic the botanical vibe of gin. I love this one containing spices and herbs such as cardamon, mint, camomile (a simple teabag)

home made non-alcoholic gin and tonic

seedlip non alcoholic spirit

8. Remove sweet drinks from the house

This is a good one for helping with self discipline. If you can't or shouldn't eat it then don't have it in front of your face tempting you every time you walk into the kitchen. I put the fruit bowl front and centre and i'm then more likely to quench my impulse.

9. Replace alcohol with healthier addictions

Getting into exercise is the obvious one here but there also other "addictions" that not involve consuming sugar, get creative here!

10. Hang out with the kids

At parties or bbqs and social gatherings where alcohol plays a part, i can be found hanging out with the kids, i let the adults drink and once i get bored of that i find it much more interesting hanging out with the kids, i love the joy where kids can have so much fun without a drop of alcohol, its a good reminder that the fun, joy and happiness don't not come out of a bottle, no matter how pretty that bottle looks!!k

 The billow and the tartan picnic pannier are the perfect bags for packing a few drinks for the park. Check them out now!  

Here are some resources that have helped me with replacing alcohol. because its not the alcohol specifically i'm trying to avoid, mocktails high in sugar are just as bad for me. 

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-non-alcoholic-drinks/ 

 

 

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