When you hear “Dry January” what comes to mind? For some, the word dry rings loudest. For others it’s more about self-efficacy. The distinction proved important recently - the week it became clear how often we don’t hear each other. Especially these days, no matter what you say, the chance is good your listener won’t be. Probability is high they don’t register your perspective at all, but filter your comments instead by their experiences, or lack thereof. No matter what you say, people tend to hear how they relate to a topic, not how you do.
When I first started The Food Party!, I was surprised when comments had nothing to do with the spirit of the piece. Eight years later, I realize that’s the norm. People go off on their own tangents all the time, some actually work out their own issues on The Food Party!
Here’s this week’s example… I’ve said numerous times I’m doing Dry January for brain-training. No matter, both friend and readers have come back last week solely about the dry part. And the comment I’ve been thinking about all week? “Why give up something you will start doing again?”
My hair stylist got her fill about brain-train this week. She’s suffering from…wait for it…a dysfunctional relationship with sugar and highly processed foods. She knows she should stop eating so much but “it’s so good and I can’t help myself.” Trust me – I get it. “I eat a bowl of cereal each night before bed.” We discussed ways to stop the bad habit, such as making sure you’re eating enough “good calories” and the importance of keeping one’s blood sugar stable. I suggested giving up the bowl every third night, substituting sparkling water instead. “Start there - succeeding will help you take more steps. It builds confidence knowing that you can give something up you enjoy, and that you can follow through on commitments you make to yourself. It’s called self-efficacy, the ability to control your behavior, motivation and social circumstances.”
Self-efficacy is a concept made famous by Stanford professor Al Bandura (1925 – 2021). RIP Professor. In 1977, Bandura was “the first to demonstrate that self-efficacy, the belief in one’s own capabilities, has an effect on what individuals choose to do, the amount of effort they put into doing it, and the way they feel as they are doing it. The more you have, the more in control you are.”
Since eating disorder days of my 20’s – 30’s, I’ve been building self-efficacy, whether I knew it or not, by fighting the good fight against sugar. I’ve made good progress. It’s taken years to separate my mind addiction from my blood sugar crashes, and neutralize both. Happy to report I may finally have kicked sugar’s sweet booty. It didn’t happen quickly. Quite honestly, I think it just took practice. (Don't hold me to it!)
Which brings me back to Dry January. Why would anyone stop drinking red wine in January if they have every intention to raise a glass in February? Why should my hairdresser not eat cereal tonight when she knows darn well she’ll have a bowl tomorrow? Reasons vary from person to person.
We give up something delicious every now and again, maybe because sometimes we have too, but other times, just to know we can. To challenge ourselves. To discover subconscious habits. To increase self-efficacy. To brain-train. To remind myself that I am in control of me.
Someone cue Janet Jackson, please!
Control, now I've got a lot
Control, to get what I want
Control, never gonna stop
Control, now I'm all grown up
photo by Janet Jackson
I’ve been doing less drink development this DJan, and more tasting of new products. The options have really improved the last 2 years. For the remainder of the month, we’ll be posting non-alcoholic drinks you can buy online and in stores - Total Wine and More has a growing selection. Our taste -testers had different reactions; we’ll try to offer something for everyone. Determine what you want to “replace” (beer, wine, spirits) and then what level of sweet you want. Pay close attention to the carbohydrates and added sugars.
Hop WTR is a mix of sparkling water and hop essence. No calories and refreshing. An interesting take on sparkling water. Beer lovers like it! 12 oz can, 0 cal / 0 carbs $3 a can
Bravus is some of the best beer I’ve ever tasted! Fellow tasters (more beer aficionados than I) described it as “light,” “a long after taste,” and “tastes like an IPA.” I loved Dark Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Ale, and could actually finish the IPA. Serious beer lovers may need more, but for me, it filled the evening drink space nicely. 12 oz can, 100 cal / 23 g carbs. 6-pack $12.99
Last year we learned drink complexity was important to satisfaction; this year stemmed glassware takes stage as I Am Important too. There’s something fun about drinking from, and holding a wine glass – no matter what’s in it. Buff your glasses with microfiber clothes for the extra sparkle that feels so good.
Our tasters agreed that the non-alcoholic wine was least among rivals. Yet later that night when no one was watching, I took it out again and poured some with dinner. Food improved the taste dramatically, and it was fun just swirling the glass around and sipping again like a bon vivant. Be Well lasted fine in the fridge, and though I really hope there is something better out there, I finished the bottle a few days later. 5 oz pour, 20 calories, 0 carbos. $11.99
Stella has nice bubbles, but feels more like a new sparkling juice. Watch out Martinell’s. Tasters mentioned “tasty and sweet,” “on the sweet side,” and “fruity character.” Made from grape with no added sugar, it's tasty! I say take it out of the “alcohol replacement world” and market the drink for all ages. 5 oz pour, 80 cal/18 g carbs Bottle: $8.99
A mixologist from New York created this botanical beauty, ready to drink from the bottle. Complex and discerning. Not sweet, but touches like strawberry, blackberry, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, and rhubarb balance out the bitters. An acquired taste actually, but bitters and shrubs are good tastes to acquire - breaks the sweet dependence. A good stand in for that glass of wine. 5 oz pour, 20 cal/5 g carbs $24.70 for 750 ml bottle
- Photos by LSIC unless mentioned