I enjoy a couple of beers three or four times a week, but I've come to realize that I really need to stop drinking the stuff. I wonder if going cold turkey would be better than trying to gradually wean myself off? Or would you recommend not going for total avoidance and allowing an occasional beer? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
I had a friend casually mention to me, in reference to my then 1 year old son, something to the effect of "Hard to be a good dad when you're going out on a bender every night". He was exaggerating for effect (because my drinking was more like two or three beers five or six times a week), but it took.
I stopped drinking that night. (Well, technically the night before). That was a few years ago.
These days I'll have an occasional glass of wine with dinner, or a cocktail with friends (which happens VERY rarely (see above re: my young son)), but I'm pretty much a non-drinker.
In my experience with paleo, weight loss, and autoimmunity over the past year, "the beer issue" has been the bugbear constantly lurking in the woods of my subconscious. If you have a love for good beer (hoppy craft brewed IPAs are my downfall), using the same strategy as you did for quitting cupcakes just ain't gonna work. For one thing the buzz is not the same, cupcakes don't make you feel temporarily invincible, and rarely in my life have I ever met up with my closest friends for a round of cupcakes after a tough week at work. Grab a six of cupcakes and go sailing for the afternoon? Only if I want to get thrown off the boat.
Sorry...I'm being facetious. My point is that, for some people, a relationship with beer is complicated (not that cupcakes aren't, it's just a little different). I tried many of the valid approaches suggested here. I switched to crappy beer (maybe I'll stop liking it), light beer (fewer carbs...drink more!), wine and hard liquor (oops...now I drink it all), gluten free (that sucked), and quitting cold turkey (more wine and bourbon please). Only one thing actually worked: L-Glutamine. I swear, that harmless, tasteless little powder broke me.
My thinking around my relationship with beer changed after watching Fat Head (Tom Naughton). I realized that my craving for beer and inability to let it go was basically an addiction to sugar and the metabolic roller coaster it puts me on. His movie and podcast interview led me to Nora Gedgaudas, who explains the whole sugar-alcohol addiction mechanism, and she recommended L-Glutamine as a solution. Once my "addiction" was broken, I was able to have a beer or two every now and then without developing a daily craving. That took about 3 months. Incidentally, I still drink but lean more toward vodka, bourbon, and wine. Cleaner buzz, less bloat (not as satisfying, however, on a hot Saturday afternoon...).
So it depends what you really want to do. Enjoy it in moderation or break the "addiction". If it's no big deal, try dialling it back. If you want to learn to resist its siren song, give the L-Glut a try.
I am also in the "why bother?" brigade. If alcohol is messing with your life then by all means take whatever steps you need to get things under control, but if you are giving it up under the guise that it is not "paleo" then perhaps you need to re-think that.
We already know that animals know how to get a good buzz on by eating rotting fruit (and shaking a tree down to get at more of it), so its not like alcohol consumption doesn't occur in nature when the opportunity presents itself.
On this point, just like saturated fat, Cordain is wrong. Check out this post from The Paleo Garden:
why humans love getting high (Part I)
Hard liquor and mixed drinks for me for the most part, followed by various ciders.
I have recently developed a taste for brandy. I had been looking for a liquor that I could drink without having to mix it and brandy and cognac are what I have settled on. Tito's vodka proudly states it is gluten free, and it is really good vodka for the $. They should have a plaque dedicated to my liver in their headquarters.
There are some really good gluten free beers out there. Bard's Tale is really top notch. Even Anheuser's Red Bridge isn't too bad.
Personally I think fermentation is an ancient way of food preservation and should be considered acceptable in moderation.
I'll throw you a curveball...why bother? I'm very VERY paleo except for beer. I love beer. I can't imagine a day on the river without a Tecate or a post surf Stone Pale Ale. Don't beat yourself up...just don't overdo it.
I switched to whiskey, the key of course is being careful, if you're used to beer, it can go down a little too quickly and you can get shithoused kinda quick. I order a glass of ice water to go along with it, and a whisky and an ice water goes down in about the same time as a beer did. Keeps you hydrated and the hangovers at bay as well.
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