Do I have to minimize consumption of alcohol to get better? I get that question quite frequently. We already know alcohol is not that great for you. Yet, what if healing your body meant that it was time to make peace with alcohol?
According to Julie Daniluk R.H.N., author of Meals That Heal Inflammation, “Alcohol is naturally irritating to our insides” the digestive system. It’s very taxing on the liver, it’s inflammatory—aggravating the gut, and can cause digestive pain or distress, especially if you’re already experiencing symptoms or predisposed to discomfort with bloating or food sensitivity. We also know, it’s immediately sugar when it’s metabolized, says Jessica Black, N.D., author of The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Recipe Book. Therefore, the digestion of alcohol is extremely toxic, causing debilitating effects and leaving us with a hangover—oftentimes ruining the entire next day. So, why do we drink?
Is the “fun” of feeling out-of-control really that great? Or is there something more that we’re missing? I hardly put any thought into alcohol until I started to experience digestive symptoms. That is when I began to consider the choices I was making. The realizations that came from my experiences have come from years of struggling with ulcerative colitis, alcohol, and eating well. My findings also seem to relate to those who may not have digestive challenges, and are pertinent to anyone who has ever consumed alcohol.
* No one cares if you drink. *
Before you scoff, check out this scenario…
You’re out getting food with some friends. Your friend orders tacos and you order a burrito. Your friend wouldn’t ostracize you for not ordering the same thing. Then, why does it matter so much if one person wants to drink or not? Have you ever met someone (or been that person) who encourages over-consumption? Or that pressures another to drink something they didn’t want to, simply for the sake of “having fun”? Let’s be real—most of us have been there before.
I used to be so bent out of shape about alcohol because I thought I would be committing social suicide if I didn’t drink. Until I realized it had a lot less to do with the people I was around and the places I went, and a lot more to do with me and how I was feeling.
According to The American Journal Of Psychiatry, social anxiety is found to increase dependence on alcohol. Additionally, “fear of negative evaluation and social avoidance and distress were both significantly positively related to drinking to cope with negative emotions and to conform to peer pressure”
It was less about what I was drinking and a lot more to do with how I was feeling. I started to recognize I wasn’t feeling very good when I drank. I was not feeling good in my physical body, but I also was not feeling like my amazing self emotionally. I had a lot of shame for continually hurting my body with alcohol when I was on the road to healing, yet it became even more than that; I felt extremely depressed everytime after drinking. It made no sense. How could I have minimal physical hangover affects but feel so emotionally dead, I may as well be naseous and incapacitated? It got to a point where I was creating this perpetual feeling of self shame—every single weekend. Yet, I continued to drink and I couldn’t figure out why.
My journey with alcohol was extensive and included years of journaling, working with healers, and doing energetic work on my subconscious programing. I was looking to answer the question, “Why am I continuing to do something I don’t like?” It turns out, I had a deep held belief that I needed alcohol to be accepted.
I drank because I wanted to feel a part of something. Although your perspective or “why” for drinking might be completely different than mine, I simply want to share my story because it’s transformed the way I see myself and my own identity. Instead of seeing myself as unworthy of acceptance until I’ve proven my drinking abilities, or needing an external source for emotional strength, I choose to get to that place within, first. How do I do that? I teach it to my clients through my consciousness certification!
I’m not promoting the cessation of drinking and I’m definitely NOT recommending that we all stay at home and do yoga rather than meeting up with friends and going dancing. Actually, I’m saying quite the oppostie. DO choose to enjoy social environments, simply connect with your feelings first!
Emotion has so much more to do with alcohol than we think. If I see a drink or situation and think “I shouldn’t have that” or “I’m not going to feel good about this tomorrow”, then that shame will be digested into your energetic and physical body. Now, if I saw a drink and thought “I’m going to feel good about drinking this”, then I’m likely going to digest that food or situation with ease. Drinking something with shame, anger, or sadness will not feel good. Think about it, have your best experiences been filled with shame or joy?
Now, when I make choices, they come from a place of alignment. The best part is, my social life has become so much more enjoyable and exciting. I have had more fun in the past year of practicing intuitive eating (and drinking!) than any previous year and my happy digestion is a reminder that I’m doing well.
I found that as I do this, my time and my enjoyment out with friends is significantly more exciting! I cannot tell you how much more fun I’m having, knowing that regardless of how much and if I drink, my friends don’t care. Those are really the friends you want to be around. They love you because of who you are. Additionally, no one can question your feelings. Communicate with people how you feel. It can be as simple as saying “It would feel good to have one drink” or “It would not feel good to drink tonight.” It does not need to be a big deal, nor does it need to be a rant. Own who you are and worry about how much fun it will be to tell stories with your friends, travel to a new destination, or dance all night. Focus on what truly matters in life: expressing yourself and living with true freedom.
It’s so reassuring to know that I can be around friends who support me and my decisions. So, next time you are around alcohol, reconnect with how you’re feeling. Would it feel highest and best to have a drink? Choosing to take action by trusting your intuition will transform your relationship with your body, identity, and digestion! When choices become aligned with who you are and what feels honoring to you, your choices begin to feel good too.