by Carmen Allan-Petale
I’ve never been adverse to a little tipple but when I moved to London four years ago, I really got into the spirit of things.
Back home in Perth, Australia, it’s difficult to have a heavy night out because public transport links aren’t efficient (trains were only every hour during off peak periods) and taxis are in short supply. So it meant limiting yourself to one glass of wine or end up stranded for the whole night until the trains started running again at 6am.
But London changed that.
We don’t have a car, so no need to worry about drink driving. And if the tubes had stopped running there’s always a night bus to get on. Yes, it might take you an hour to get home but unlike back in Perth, it was guaranteed you’d get there.
Cue heavy drinking. London’s work hard / play hard culture almost expects you to do it. Many label it the ‘Heathrow injection’ – step onto British soil and you automatically gain 10 pounds in alcohol-related fat. Pub life is as recognised as Prince Harry stumbling out of a nightclub at 4am. Friday night drinks involve heading to a watering hole straight from work, skipping dinner and downing two bottles of wine before fumbling to the nearest kebab shop and sprinting for the last tube to avoid the aforementioned hour-long night bus journey.
And I did stupid things.
On one of those sprints to the tube through the rain (whilst in stilettos) I went flying into the air, landing sprawled with a thump on the escalator, skirt scrunched up to my waist. I managed to get on to the tube only to be told by a fellow drunk idiot that my upper thigh looked like the after effects of a George Foreman grill. I still have the scar on my butt. Not my finest hour.
But the drinking carried on and each weekend I’d wake up with a throbbing head and a dry mouth, vowing never to drink again. But I would. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic. I didn’t crave the drink. I just did it because everyone else did it and I liked the taste. It helped me get into the party mood.
But drinking was making me ill.
Slowly I began to feel worse and worse. My mum noted (over Skype) that I always had bags under my eyes. My weekends weren’t very productive (if at all) and I always felt bloated.
Recently I was told my body doesn’t handle sugar well. Which explains why, even though I’d given up wheat because I’m allergic to gluten, my stomach was still swelling all the time. There’s loads of sugar in wine and this combined with the natural yeasts in your stomach creates a fermentation effect which leads to bloating.
So I decided to give up drinking.
It’s been more than three weeks now, which doesn’t sound like much but for someone who had a glass of wine with most dinners, it’s an achievement. And I feel better for it. My stomach doesn’t bloat anymore and I feel a lot more motivated to get out of bed in the mornings. True, I may still have a lie in on the weekends (I never was an early bird) but when I get out of bed I actually feel like leaving the house rather than lying on the couch and watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men.
I’m going to steer clear of drinking until Christmas.
And when I go back to it I’m going to avoid sugary drinks and not drink in such large quantities. Do you reckon I can do it?