Exploring the benefits of a "Dry January"

Exploring the benefits of a 'Dry January' (6AM report)
The benefits of a "Dry January"

INDIANAPOLIS (WHTR) - It's five o’clock somewhere is both a popular phrase and a hit country music song by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet. Both have the same message -- somewhere in the world, it's happy hour and time for a drink.

In January, as the days are shorter, apparently so is the number of people observing happy hour thanks to Dry January. It’s a trend that started a few years ago in the United Kingdom.

“It's really been gaining momentum here in the last few years,” said Eskenazi Health Registered Dietician Lindsay Dirlam. “It's basically where people don't drink any alcohol for the month of January.”

So for all 31 days of the month – possibly excluding those first few hours of the New Year – you don’t have a single alcoholic beverage. Zero. Zip. Nada.

“A lot of times people are doing Dry January as a way to jump start their new year’s resolution, whether it was to lose weight, get healthier, cut back on drinking, or as kind of a reset after a more indulgent or boozy holiday season,” Dirlam said.

There are health benefits that come from the month of detoxing, Dirlam said.

“Weight loss is a big thing that we see. You can sleep better; a lot of times we think that a couple of drinks before bed relaxes you and helps you sleep well, but actually it has the opposite effect, so you're not going to get the deep sleep which is what you need to feel refreshed,” Dirlam said.

She says that alcohol can prevent you getting a deep sleep. It’s also a diuretic, which means you’re also more often to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Then there’s knowing what you’re drinking. One thing you’ll notice missing on most labels of alcohol? Calorie information.

“They don't have to have that nutrition label on there that you see on juices and milk and other beverages so a lot of people don't realize how many calories alcohol has or forget that there are the calories,” Dirlam said.

The USDA lists calorie content in generic terms on its website for alcohol. It lists the following calorie content per ounce for the average beverage:

Kahlua – the coffee and rum liqueur – is even higher. My Fitness Tracker lists it as having 91 calories per ounce.

Multiply those ounces and if you add in mixers, Dirlam says it’s easy to end up having a drink with as many calories as a cheeseburger in one glass!

Dirlam says it can be beneficial to cut alcohol during the month of January, but is it beneficial long term?

“Probably not,” Dirlam said. “It's very similar to when a lot of people do a crash diet or a fad diet in the month of January and then they maybe go back to their old eating habits; we might see weight creep back, you're not going to get the benefits of the sleeping or the liver help.”

She instead recommends watching your alcohol consumption throughout the year as new year’s resolutions, after all, are a 365 day journey.