As the holidays approach, everyone always starts thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If this next year is like most, exercise will be the most common resolution at the top of people’s lists. Gym memberships will be purchased and then forgotten over a matter of weeks as people commit to a healthy new lifestyle and then quickly run out of time, interest, and motivation.
This year, I’ve got an idea for those who truly want to be the best versions of themselves. Instead of making a general goal of adding exercise to your schedule, why not make a very specific goal to cut out two unhealthy addictions? Specifically, I’m talking about sugar and extreme alcohol use.
I can already hear people out there expressing shock at sugar being labeled as an addiction. Before you sink too deep into disbelief, consider this: studies have shown that sugar addiction is real and that sugar cravings can rewire your brain in the same way as drugs like cocaine. Sugar isn’t a harmless addiction, either. Over time, it can lead to weight gain and even diseases like Type-2 diabetes.
While most people are familiar with alcoholism, they might not think they have a problem with alcohol addiction. “I don’t drink every day,” they might think, “I just party and get drunk on the weekends.”
Heavy episodic drinking, also known as binge drinking, is not only a form of alcoholism, but it can be just as dangerous as daily drinking. Like drinking to excess every day, binge drinking can damage your cardiovascular system, liver, and gastrointestinal system – as well as put you at an increased risk being involved in motor vehicle crashes or practicing unsafe sex.
The benefits of cutting out binge drinking as a New Year’s resolution are obvious, but why should you also remove sugar from the mix? Isn’t it better to work on one addiction at a time?
The reality is that a healthy diet is helpful when you’re working to break any bad habit or addiction. When you cut down on excess sugar in your diet and replace it with nutritious foods, you’ll feel better – and this will help you as you work to change your behavior around alcohol. It’s tough to change behavior patterns, but feeling great is a wonderful motivator as you move through the first half of the new year.