Health and fitness tips to make the most of your sober month!

How to avoid the sweet-tooth when giving up alcohol

By Juliet Hodges, Bupa UK on

 ‘Go Sober for October’ 2017 is well underway and Bupa UK’s behaviour change advisor Juliet Hodges has shared her top tips to how avoid sweet treats during a booze free month. 

Overindulging with sugary treats is a really common antidote to giving up alcohol or taking a break. Sugar is a particularly potent replacement because it has a similar effect on the brain as alcohol, releasing dopamine which gives us a feeling of pleasure. So how can you beat the odds and avoid sugar while you Go Sober for October?

Try “if-then” planning

If you’re determined to keep the sweet treats at a minimum during October, one technique you could try is “if-then” planning, which has been shown to be an effective tool for changing behaviour. For example, you might find it difficult to refuse the dessert menu at a restaurant when you’ve gone without wine. In that case, your “if-then” plan could be: if I’m handed the dessert menu at a restaurant, then I will order a coffee or mint tea instead of a pudding. You’ll find just having a plan in place for these situations will make it easier to stick to your goals.

Focus on staying sober

If you want to change your lifestyle, don’t change every aspect of your life all at once. When we decide to make a lifestyle change, it takes a lot of effort to interrupt our automatic behaviour and replace it with the new one. Giving up alcohol is difficult enough without also trying to cut out the sugar that makes it easier. While it might not be the healthiest solution, having a few treats now and again will help you stick to your sober challenge. Just make sure to cut back again when the month is over!

Replace sugar with exercise

Sugar is a tempting replacement to alcohol because of its similar effects on the brain. One way of giving yourself a natural high is through exercise. Going for a run or taking part in a high intensity gym class, like spinning, might give you a similar good feeling, but in a much healthier way.

Allow yourself treats

Cutting out alcohol this month should make you feel great – no more hangovers! – not like you’re punishing yourself. Even if you don’t allow yourself extra pudding this month, make sure you reward yourself in other ways – go on a shopping trip, book in for a massage or organise a trip somewhere. Some evidence suggests that people have more willpower for self-improvement tasks when they’re in a good mood, so depriving yourself could backfire. You’re doing a good thing for a good cause, so make sure you acknowledge and reward yourself for that.