The Case for Going Moist—Not Dry—With Your January Drinking Habits

Photo: Getty Images/Rafa Elias
So, your Instagram feed has been overrun by "Dry January" posts? Same, same. With everyone zeroing in on the practice, the staff of Well+Good couldn't help but wonder whether going "moist"—not dry—throughout the first month of the year might be a catalyst for healthier booze-related decisions all year long.

"Moist January" might serve a legit purpose for many, according to licensed dietician Kellie Gragg, RDN. "If you have ever tried making a life change using an 'all or nothing' approach, you have likely discovered the pitfalls of that mindset," she says. "The achievement of perfection is rare and therefore limiting yourself to that standard usually results in beating yourself up and feeling guilty over and over again until you just give up—feeling like a failure."

Research suggests that we Homo sapiens stick to habits most successfully when we start with baby steps ("I will drink one fewer drink each week") rather than giant strides ("No drinking for me this month!"). By making moistness your mantra this month you're actually working in tandem with science. Cheers to that, fam.

"If you have ever tried making a life change using an 'all or nothing' approach, you have likely discovered the pitfalls of that mindset." —Kellie Gragg, RDN

Here's the fine print: For some, opting for Dry or Moist January should take other medical factors into account. Certain medications simply don't mix with alcohol, and diabetics should keep in mind that alcohol metabolizes as sugar.

"Although many feel that alcohol helps them fall asleep, many will also experience waking up about three or four hours later unable to go back to sleep. That’s because alcohol is metabolized during the second half of the night, causing a fragmented sleep experience," says Gragg. The path you choose, therefore, should be discussed with your primary care physician.

Here's how set yourself up for success with Moist January

Step 1: "First, start by asking yourself, 'What is my ultimate goal in making this change?' There are many personal reasons why people choose to change a habit," she says. Knowing your 'why' will increase the probability of seeing that resolution through February 1," says Gragg.

Step 2: Break your goal into small, achievable steps. If you currently drink 12 glasses of wine each week and would like to cut that down to three, start by whittling it down to 10. Then cut a drink each subsequent week until you reach your goal.

Step 3: Be ready to hit a few roadblocks. "All new habits will encounter obstacles. When you can predict in advance what those obstacles may be, you can make a plan to overcome them," says Gragg. If you're planning on brunch with friends this weekend, for example, tell yourself ahead of time that you'll drink one bloody mary not three.

Step 4: Keep yourself accountable. "Studies demonstrate that you are more likely to follow through and stick with a commitment when you establish some form of accountability. Some find accountability comes with tracking your efforts each week on paper or in a journal," says Gragg, adding that you just need to find a way that works for you.

For those nights when you do enjoy a cocktail, here's how to skip the sugar and how to mix one up that's perfect for your zodiac sign

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