When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country in March 2020, we started to see reports of increased drinking as people struggled to come to terms with lockdown and isolation. Christina and Alan, founders of social enterprise and alcohol-free drink brand Altina Drinks and passionate advocates for mindful drinking, sprang into action. They created Australia’s first Zero Proof Festival, a month-long event held over July with live and virtual events and social posts showcasing alcohol-free habits and resources. Here are some of the highlights from the festival.
The month kicked off with a fireside chat with Shanna Whan, CEO of bush charity Sober in the Country and Hello Sunday Morning rural ambassador. Sober in the Country raises awareness of alcohol harm in the regional areas through frank and fearless conversation and education. Shanna spoke from a place of incredible experience – having dedicated over 5 years of unpaid time and 15,000 conversations to promote the organisation’s mission.
Shanna shared her relatable yet inspirational story: she sees herself as a typical Aussie who lost herself in alcohol addiction. After a long battle, she told us of the moment she realised she needed help and changed her relationship with alcohol. To hear the full story of Shanna and this conversation, head over to the Facebook Video. Below are some top tips from Shanna on embracing sobriety and resources to help change your relationship with alcohol.
- You are not alone. There are many people out there who have also suffered from alcohol harm and who do not, or cannot, drink alcohol.
- It’s okay to say no to a drink.
- Seek support from communities such as Sober in the Country, Hello Sunday Morning, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Alcohol and Drug Foundation or try self-help tools such as the Daybreak program.
The final event of the month featured Kate Freeman, founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Her vision is to set people free from food stress and teach people how to eat well for life. After 15+ years in the weight-loss industry, Kate was dissatisfied with the lack of credible programs available to educate and empower people to change their eating habits long term. So, she created one herself.
Kate debunked a lot of health myths around our perception of what healthy eating and drinking means. For example, one cup of soft drink (no nutrients) and one large apple (fibre, vitamins minerals and antioxidants) both contain 104 calories and 22 grams of sugar. However, which one is the healthier choice? We would say the apple, but why? According to chemistry 101, our body doesn’t know the difference between perceived bad or good sugar – our body metabolises them the same, but what’s the difference? We drink the coke in liquid form while we have to bite into and chew the apple, which means we allow the sugar and calories to enter our body at a slower pace. To hear the full content of Kate’s talk and hear more about these fascinating facts, head over to the @altinadrinks Instagram TV here.
See below for her top tips to help stay with healthy choices or motivate others with health choices.
- Don’t demonise any particular food or drinks. This is an ineffective way of creating healthier choices as it can contribute to stress and anxiety around food and lead to negative feelings and reactions such as binge eating.
- There is sugar in everything, even in plants and fruit. The key is to know if you are consuming added sugar or intrinsic sugar. Intrinsic sugar is okay as it takes longer for your body to absorb and our body and brain actually need sugar to stay functional.
- Focus on what you want to eat to maximise your nutritional intake and not what you can’t eat, which creates stress and unhealthy habits.
Throughout the month, Altina Drinks shared stories and experiences from mindful drinkers from across the country, showcasing how alcohol-free living and socialising can play a big role in creating healthy lives. They received lots of positive feedback from people who participated in the series, with their social media posts reaching over half a million people across the month!
This was the first event of its kind in Australia, and Alan and Christina encourage people who enjoyed any part of the Festival to demand more when they socialise, and help change the Aussie drinking culture, one Alcohol-Free drink at a time.
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Thanks for all the guidance and support from someone who struggled with alcohol and substance abuse since I was fifteen. I finally stopped everything at sixty-three (14 months ago). 😊👋