THE BLOG

How To Avoid 'Sweet Tooth' When Giving Up Alcohol

09/10/2017 12:59 BST | Updated 09/10/2017 12:59 BST

Overindulging with sugary treats is a really common antidote to giving up alcohol or taking a booze break. But how are you meant to purge the pints without piling on the pounds from Cronuts or Duffins or other calorific treats?

Well, here is a few ideas on replacing one vice with another. Research has shown that sugar is a particularly potent replacement because it has a similar effect on the brain as alcohol, releasing dopamine which gives us a feeling of pleasure.

So how can you beat the odds and avoid sugar while you soberlise during Go Sober for October?

1. Allow yourself treats (going 'cold turkey' isn't going to stimulate motivation)

Cutting out alcohol for Go Sober for October should make you feel great - no more hangovers! Even if you don't allow yourself extra pudding this month, make sure you reward yourself in other ways - go on a shopping trip, book in for a massage or organise a trip somewhere. Remember that people have more willpower for self-improvement tasks when they're in a good mood, so depriving yourself could backfire. You're doing a good thing for a good cause, so make sure you acknowledge and reward yourself for that.

2. Replace sugar with exercise

Sugar is a tempting replacement to alcohol because of its similar effects on the brain. One way of giving yourself a natural high is through exercise. Going for a run or taking part in a high intensity gym class, like spinning, might give you a similar good feeling, but in a much healthier way.

3. Try "if-then" planning

If you're determined to keep the sweet treats at a minimum during October, one technique you could try is "if-then" planning, which has been shown to be an effective tool for changing behaviour.

For example, you might find it difficult to refuse the dessert menu at a restaurant when you've gone without wine. In that case, your "if-then" plan could be: if I'm handed the dessert menu at a restaurant, then I will order a coffee or mint tea instead of a pudding. You'll find just having a plan in place for these situations will make it easier to stick to your goals.

But, maybe this all seems a bit too hard, plus you can't do everything at once, right? Well, all is not lost:

4. Focus on staying sober

If you want to change your lifestyle, don't change every aspect of your life all at once. When we decide to make a lifestyle change, it takes a lot of effort to interrupt our automatic behaviour and replace it with the new one.

Giving up alcohol is difficult enough without also trying to cut out the sugar that makes it easier. While it might not be the healthiest solution, having a few treats now and again will help you stick to your sober challenge. Just make sure to cut back again when the month" is over!

So if your ditching daiquiri's in the run up to Christmas or taking a booze break and supporting Macmillan's Go Sober for October these tips will be sure to see you through a night soberlising with your mates.