Yesterday a lot of people had their first beer since January 31.
That’s because it was the end of Febfast – where people give up alcohol for a month to youth and family support initiatives.
Despite the fact that the definition of the word ‘‘fast’’ does not specify any specific food or drink, the promoters of this charity have targeted alcohol. They’re not asking people to give up things like fast food, coffee, sugary soft drinks or confectionery – nope it’s just alcohol they’re picking on.
And they’re not alone – this is just one of three alcohol-free months. We’ve also got Dry July and Ocsober. While I don’t like the idea of these alcohol-free months on principle (which I will get into later) I have a particular dislike for Ocsober.
Firstly there’s that ‘‘oh-so-clever’’ name. Do they even realise that the word ‘‘sober’’ does not mean abstaining but rather ‘‘not affected by alcohol’’? So do they get that you can still drink alcohol and remain sober? So do they then understand that their ‘‘oh-so-clever’’ name is completely stupid?
Then there’s the bogus health claims they make on their website. Here’s a sample quote – ‘‘It is useful for the human body to detoxify occasionally to get rid of the toxins that uncontrollably enter into the system.’’ ‘‘Uncontrollably enter into the system’’? So we’re not talking about alcohol here, right?
There’s also that reference to the need to ‘‘detox’’ – a concept science debunks time and time again. Our liver and kidneys do a perfectly fine job of ‘‘detoxing’’ – the idea you need to do it yourself by giving up something is just rubbish. And don’t even get me started on their suggestion that you ‘‘get help from experts’’ by seeing a naturopath. Huh? A naturopath? A naturopath isn’t an ‘‘expert’’.
The real problem I have with these alcohol-free months is that they send the message that there are two options – drink heaps or nothing at all. Swearing off alcohol for a month just demonises the stuff and makes it out to be a far, far greater problem for the average person that it really is.
If you’re worried about alcohol use then surely a much better – and realistic – message to be preaching is the responsible consumption of alcohol. Surely an approach that preaches moderation rather than abstinence is a more effective path to creating long-term change in drinking habits.
So if you’re worried about your alcohol intake, then just drink less. Don’t cut it out, just drink less. And do it right now. Don’t sit there and wait for some month with some ‘‘oh so clever’’ name to take action. If it bothers you, start today.
Unlike all those people you went from not touching alcohol in February to drinking again in March, taking the approach of moderation is likely to last for more than a month too.
I completely agree. One of the things I find gross about the whole Febfast is that you can get “credits” or whatever they call them. You can have a night off for a special occasion. Many of the people on TV promoting the month would mention it and joked about how they had a birthday/wedding coming up so they would use the credits then.
It’s as though everyone involved couldn’t possibly go to an event without getting drunk.
That’s pretty gross and a horrible indictment on how we treat drinking in our part of the world.
As a “beer lover” I’ve realised how moderation is the best thing. I’ve ended up in some gross states over the years but I’d never consider “detox” or fasting – as you point out they don’t actually do anything and from what I’ve seen the people doing it end up in a binge to “celebrate”
If people want to make an actual healthier change it is always better to make it in small manageable steps rather than one off steps.
It would be better to set yourself a curfew every time you go out drinking for a year rather than stopping drinking all together for a month
I’d not heard about the credits. That pretty much makes the whole exercise pointless because they’re not actually giving up alcohol for a month at all.
I see the key as making realistic changes that you can sustain rather than a month of deprivation, following by the likely binge.
“For a one off guilt free return to alcohol consumption”
Jeez, so you buy your way out of Febfast for a night if you want. Now I dislike these things even more.
Good thing this has not caught on in the US. I’m not sure if I could handle it! Nice writing. I always enjoy reading your posts and learning your perspective on beer in your neck of the woods… or world!
Thanks for the kind words…and I’m quite surprised that this doesn’t already happen in the US.