Whether it was to fight boredom, anxiety or loneliness, the coronavirus pandemic changed Australia’s drinking habits – and not necessarily for the better.
A survey by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in August 2020 found that one in eight Australians have been drinking every day since the pandemic began. Nearly one in five said they wished they’d drunk less during the COVID-19 lockdown, and half hoped to cut down in the future.
Nutritionist Jen Galland can relate. She and her family travelled to Bangalow in Northern NSW to visit her ill uncle when COVID first hit, and rather than returning to Sydney, they decided to bunker down in the quiet hinterland village. That’s where Jennifer and her husband started having a drink more regularly.
“I’m not a huge drinker but it’s so relaxing up there and in so many ways it felt like we were on holidays,” she recalls. “My husband and I started having a drink each night. In fact, I started to look forward to the 4pm call time at the end of the day. When I realised how easy it had been for daily drinking to become a habit, it motivated me to break the cycle.”
Professor Terry Bowles, a habit formation expert from the University of Melbourne, told The Guardian that many people picked up new habits during the tumultuous year.
“Routine behaviours which can have a profound impact on our lives do not take a long time to form,” Prof Bowles said.
Research suggests it take just 66 days on average to form a habit, so when it comes to cutting back on alcohol, findings ways to break the cycle is key. Replacing a daily cocktail with a non-alcoholic beverage can help people implement a few booze-free days without feeling like they’re missing out.
“After deciding to cut back, I discovered Seadrift, which is an Australian-made, all-natural non-alcoholic spirit that has no calories and no sugar,” says Jen. “I enjoy drinking Seadrift on a Friday night as it feels like I’m having a cocktail, and it’s a ritual that signals the end of a busy week for me, but it’s a healthier alternative. I even now choose it for my first few drinks when we have people over because it cuts out alcohol before the meal hits the table.”
As a nutritionist, Jen is all too aware of the health implications of daily drinking.
“I spend a lot of time advising clients to cut back on alcohol, so it’s only right that I follow my own advice – and I do feel better for it!” she says.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly is concerned with Australia’s high alcohol consumption, with the nation seeing 4000 alcohol-related deaths a year and 70,000 hospital admissions. More than 40 medical conditions, including many cancers, are linked to alcohol.
“One in four Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels. One in two women consumed alcohol during their pregnancy, and 10 to 15 per cent of all emergency department presentations are alcohol-related,” Professor Kelly stated as part of the research linked to the latest revision of alcohol guidelines.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recently confirmed Australia’s revised alcohol guidelines. It recommended that healthy adults should consume no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four in one day to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury or disease. For those looking to cut back for their health, alternatives like Seadrift provide a sophisticated alcohol-free option.
Wine lover and mother Fiona Trew has recently been swapping out her 5pm alcoholic sundowner for Seadrift, as it mimics the taste and feeling of her regular gin and tonic.
“I couldn’t believe it when I first tried Seadrift – I fell in love with it instantly. Don’t get me wrong, my husband, Peter, and I are both wine drinkers, but I love that Seadrift offers an alternative that still feels like an adult drink,” says Fiona.
“It has become a ritual for Peter and I to have a Seadrift before dinner. Before discovering Seadrift, we often found ourselves enjoying a bottle of wine a night, but with Seadrift, we have really cut back,” she adds.
The founders of Seadrift, Alastair and Carolyn Whiteley, opened Australia’s first dedicated non-alcoholic distillery to cater to the trend towards mindful drinking and lower consumption of alcohol, both internationally and here in Australia.
“Australians are becoming more aware of what they consume, and because they are driven by their love of food and drink, they only want to be served something that is a quality offering. If you can’t do that then it’s not going to be adopted by Australians,” says Alastair.
“We spent two years developing Seadrift using the traditional distilling process that has been used for centuries to create spirits such as gin and vodka, just without the ethanol base. We did this because we wanted to mimic the warmth of alcohol, to ensure we offered a credible alternative that is satisfying and fresh. We believe we have achieved that with Seadrift and see it as a natural addition to Australians’ social drinking options. It’s the perfect go-to for those participating in Feb Fast,” adds Alastair.
Seadrift was awarded a London Spirits LSC Silver 2020 Competition.
To find out more about SEADRIFT and to buy your bottle for FebFast 2020 go to: www.seadriftdistillery.com.au