We’ve become polarized in many aspects of our social, political and even dietary viewpoints. In the new year, I recommend, and have personally resolved, to seek a more centrist viewpoint and conduct in my inward and outward lifestyle, all with the goal of seeking a more balanced perspective on life.
I encourage you to join me to experiment with changing select aspects of your personal life, whether you conduct yourself at either end of the social/political spectrum or closer to the center. It’s always beneficial to hit the reset button on occasion.
A few recommendations:
- Are you viewing and reading every news bulletin, e-mail, text and tweet as soon as they appear on your home screen banner? Experiment by spending one day a week with your smartphone at least 10 feet from your reach. Maybe begin with one hour a day.
- Have you experimented with a Meatless Monday? Try a Meatless week. Over the past two years I’ve witnessed an undercurrent of dietary change in our country. The western diet of the baby boomer generation (high levels of fat, sugar, processed foods) has slowly been rejected by younger generations. The Millennial and Generation Z population are shifting their diets to more plant protein based, grounded in natural foods. Anecdotal evidence of this is the growing number of restaurant menus and food markets featuring prominently identified vegetarian and/or vegan dishes or shelf items.
- Enjoying a glass of wine with meals most evenings? Try consistently abstaining from any alcohol for several days or a week. Or join the growing ranks of consumers experimenting with the concept of a Dry January (and/or March or any months you select). Wine in moderation has always been my hallmark. For me, abstention for any prolonged period diminishes the joy and enhancement that a glass of wine brings to a meal. But I’ve noticed the growing trend of Dry January across multiple generations of adults.
This phenomenon began in Great Britain nearly 10 years ago and has gained popularity in the United States over the last two years. Health conscious adults are abstaining from alcohol during this month in an effort to curb their alcohol consumption and seek a healthier diet.
Anecdotal results I’ve gleaned are all positive. In Britain, the University of Sussex has been tracking the results of those who practice Dry January. During and after the month-long abstention, they report a “host of health benefits, like improved sleep, more energy and weight loss.” How to measure the effect of short-term abstention? Do you have more energy, feel more productive and healthier? Do you feel inclined to continue to follow this regime again?
How to cope with the temptation of alcohol during the month? I recommend multiple glasses of sparkling water, in place of sparkling wine, in a stemmed wine glass. And be sure to not engage in an excessively Wet February.
I believe that alcoholic consumption (of any type) is intrinsically dangerous and unhealthy. I also espouse the volumes of medical evidence that, drunk in moderation, wine has long-term health benefits that seem to outweigh the obvious risks.
I endorse the USDA guidelines that moderate consumption is acceptable. Men should consume no more than two glasses per day; women one glass. But is the USDA’s acceptable consumption definition valid for your physiological make-up? Try the Dry January experiment and measure the effects.
The bottom line for me has always been three principles: moderation in consumption, drinking responsibly and consulting your medical professional before consuming alcohol. Somewhere in those maxims lies a reasonable approach.
But now I find myself getting caught up in the growing appeal of temporary abstention. As I’m at my desk penning this week’s column, I’ve convinced myself it is appropriate that I too join the ranks of teetotalers for the month of January. And perhaps even cut back on my animal protein and my social media consumption.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sharingwine.