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Image / Editorial

The Menopause Diaries: Alcohol effects my weight, my sleep and makes me look my age


by Helen Seymour
06th Sep 2018

Lovely wooden background with the letter m

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Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her new weekly column we follow her on her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M


This week’s column has actually been harder to write than the column I wrote on Vaginal Dryness, because like that, this is something none of us wants to deal with. And interestingly, it also concerns another type of “drying out”.

Alcohol (one of our few remaining pleasures), is statistically and repeatedly cited as something you have to reconsider as Menopause approaches, specifically the amount you consume. Yes. I know. Cue eyeball roll.

If, like me, you have been drinking heavily throughout your Thirties and Forties (heavily is anything over two glasses a day), alcohol will already have been impacting your weight, sleep and mood. And as Peri-menopause starts to kick in, alcohol can act as a trigger for hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

And if like me, “moderation” is a word your brain refuses to acknowledge, then the thought of having “one glass” a day is ridiculous.

Alcohol has been upfront and central throughout my twenties, thirties and forties. I could spend the rest of this column telling you about the drinks I love. How much FUN I’ve had with alcohol involved.

Related: The Menopause Diaries: Fake Periods leave me with cramps, bloating and PMT … but no period

And yet alcohol has not been my friend for quite a while. For the last decade my body has really struggled to process even moderate amounts. Hangovers lasting two days. Solpedine my new best friend. No energy. Mainlining carbs and sugar. And worse. I began to really look my age.

And so, for the last five years, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to pull back my consumption levels. Dry January, Sober October, not drinking mid-week, abstaining through June to get “bikini ready” for July. WASTE.OF.TIME. For the entire time I was off the drink, all I could think about was the day I could get back on it. And oh boy would I come back with a vengeance.

Then last summer, on holiday, with a glass of Rosé in my hand, I read “Material World, Mystical Girl” by ex Sunday Times Journalist Ruby Warrington. And it changed my life. Well one chapter did. The chapter entitled “Sober Curious”.

Related: The Menopause Diaries: The dreaded dryness down under

Ruby was a party girl. Drink, drugs. Burning Man. Ibiza. But she slowly came to the conclusion that aspects of her life were not so healthy. Particularly alcohol. So, she decided that before she drank, she would ask herself four questions, and if the answer to any of the questions was yes, she wouldn’t drink.

  1. Is this going to affect what I want to do tomorrow?
  2. Am I doing this to self-medicate? (Stress, Depression)
  3. Am I doing this because I’m nervous, or on edge?
  4. Is this just a sugar craving?

 

So I started asking myself her questions. And guess what? I slowly stopped drinking. What I previously found IMPOSSIBLE, just “happened” by simply asking those questions. I do still have an occasional glass, but honestly, I don’t care about alcohol the way I used to. And I NEVER thought I would say that.

Related: I’m hoping Carole Vorderman’s doctor will help with the Peri-Menopause headache

The other book I read was “The Sober Diaries” by Clare Pooley”.  Described as “Bridget Jones Dries Out” it’s utterly brilliant. And it’s a fantastic support tool to read, as you’re trying out Ruby’s questions. Order them both online now. Go on. I dare you.

But ONLY do this if, like me, you know alcohol is not helping. And you want to get it under control before the big hormonal changes hit. And you’ve decided you want to work with your body, not against it.

And if you’re one of those rare birds, the small number of women for whom alcohol does not affect their Menopause, then LUCKY YOU, and please have one for me!!

 

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