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Image / Editorial

‘My move towards healthy eating made me reconsider my relationship with alcohol’

by Andrea Galligan
03rd Feb 2020

sober curious

sober curious

When Andrea Galligan became more conscious of the food she was eating during her second pregnancy, she started to become more aware of her relationship with alcohol too. 

Pregnancy for many women can be something that is unavoidably medicalised. Having been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a type of autoimmune condition that causes joint inflammation, this was especially true for me and meant the medical profession considered my pregnancy as high risk.

Finding this out on my first prenatal visit was an unfortunate ice-breaker with my obstetrician. As it turned out, like the majority of other women in Ireland, I received excellent care and because of my condition I had several additional scans which proved to be highly anticipated by supportive friends and family.

However, I found the terminology unhelpful. Perhaps I could have been categorised as requiring additional attention or some other phrase. And there’s no doubt this type of language meant that out of fear, I over-relied on medical advice the first-time around, ignoring other approaches that I could have made use of at the same time.

Food can be medicine

Second time around was different. Most pregnancies have their own food peculiarities. Having been introduced to the concept of food as medicine, I started with phasing out foods that might be contributing to my joint inflammation. Soon I was an avid follower of bio-hacker Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Radio podcast and was discovering the benefits of the powerful combination of diet, sleep and exercise.

I concentrated on nourishing not just my baby but my body also. I looked for mineral and vitamin rich foods, focusing on colourful vegetables and leafy greens. McNally’s Family Farm became my go-to market stall, their organic vegetables the delight of my Saturday mornings. Dr Gundry’s podcast,  acclaiming the virtues of black coffee and raw chocolate, reassured me there was still some of my favourite things that weren’t off limits.

The road to Sober Curious

This new attitude to food started to positively affect my mood and my ability to cope with the demands of being a parent. My move towards clean eating was, without me even realising it, also allowing me to become curious about my relationship with alcohol, something my younger self wouldn’t have questioned. Glamorous creatives like Gabby Bernstein and Kris Carr gave me reasons to explore this lifestyle choice further.

Now that baby was sleeping more regularly, instead of reintroducing alcohol, I decided to continue without. I started spending my evenings creating rather than kicking back with a glass of vino. Instagram started serving me tons of inspiration of other women giving it a go.

And every time my baby-shaped alarm clock woke me at 6am, I knew, for now at least, I’d made the best decision.

Hacks for experimenting with food as medicine and sober curiosity

Nourishing baby and you

Yes, everyone’s talking about it, but I really took to plant-based cooking and found it did wonders for me. I became a follower of the Pick Up Limes foodie, who’s not just a food blogger but a health and well-being aficionado too. Good food can lead to good mood.

Elevating your energy

Pregnancy and breastfeeding kick-started a distancing from alcohol for me. I’m not saying I’ll never have a glass of wine again, but my elevated energy levels from not having alcohol in my life was an exciting discovery. Non-alcoholic gin is a thing now. I tried it and it’s delicious, including this Dublin-made gem.

Alternative socialising

Introducing my newfound enthusiasm into my social circle, I persuaded a friend to join me in the Virgin Mary on Capel Street for a mocktail. She left, like me, convinced this was something the sleep-deprived parents of Dublin are ready for.

Andrea Galligan is a content creator and communications professional. She lives with her husband and two children in Dublin 3. She promotes the benefits of healthy outdoor play on her Instagram account @numu_dublin 

Read more: ‘Despite my initial misgivings, I decided to give conscious parenting a go’

Read more: Should maternity leave be ‘all’ about the baby?