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The Girlfriend's Guide To Rethinking Drinking

Maybe carbs aren’t the only thing you should cut down on this year.

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AARP, The Girlfriend, Drinking, Dry January
Justin Coit/Trunk Archive
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Whether it’s your evening Meiomi Pinot Noir ritual, your girls nights out or your Rosé All Day mentality, have you ever stopped to think, “What kind of drinker am I?”

If not, it might be time to start mindful drinking. Yes, it sounds very Gwyneth and Goop-y, but some habits are worth examining.

New research shows that alcohol consumption has jumped over the past decade, with women showing some of the biggest increases, both in overall consumption and high-risk drinking (four or more drinks on at least one day a week).

Don’t worry — the mindful drinking trend isn’t about forcing you to give up your grape. It’s about thinking through the reasons why you drink, then retracing your steps to determine how you got to the point where you unconsciously pour a glass of wine the millisecond you get home from work. Maybe it will stop you from a third or fourth glass you don’t need. Or maybe it just saves you a few calories.

But first, do you even know how much you drink in a week? A month? Do you give your gynecologist a vapid stare followed by a panicked “hardly at all!” at your annual checkup?

“As women, we don't feel comfortable questioning our alcohol intake,” says Annie Grace, author of This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life. “It’s not like questioning our carb intake; if you can’t drink ‘responsibly,’ there’s a stigma, like something is wrong with you … not that there’s something inherently physically and emotionally addictive about alcohol.”

“If you need it to enjoy yourself at a party, trace that belief back,” suggests Grace. “Think about how alcohol and fun became so intertwined — you probably laugh a lot in your life, and most of that laughter happens when you’re not drinking.”

Try a mindful drinking class (Google it as you might find one offered by a local meditation practitioner): “It taught me to think about how and what I drink,” says Julie. “Sort of the opposite of how people look at drinking as making them not want to think. Pause before you order, think about what you're going to have, sip it, listen to the conversation around you. Once you have it in your head to be present for the experience, it makes it much easier to slow down.”

Laura Vincent is a counselor with Ria Health, an app “for people who want to stop drinking too much.” She cautions that “women can socialize and drink when they want and not feel as judged by society, which can create even more of a problem.”

So add mindful drinking to your 2018 resolutions. You may find that you don’t mind how you drink, or you may learn something new about yourself. Either way, we’ll toast to that.

As always, if you have questions about your drinking — and its impact on your health — talk to your doctor.