Moderation Made Simple: Wisdom From the Kitchen

5 min read
DigiPD / Pixabay

Source: DigiPD / Pixabay

Dumplings and mindful drinking may seem worlds apart. Still, as someone who recently dabbled in both, I can tell you that the art of crafting the perfect dumpling can offer surprising insights into the journey to alcohol moderation or abstinence.

My recent culinary adventure got me thinking about how dumpling-making mirrors the journey many of us embark on when trying to change our relationship with alcohol.

Essential Ingredients for Changing Alcohol Habits

As my grandma used to say, you can’t make dumplings with just flour; you need the right mix of water, flour, and a pinch of salt. When it comes to changing your relationship with alcohol, there are also some essential ingredients.

First, there is your motivation. Consider this your flour. Both external motivators, like better health, a stronger marriage, and hangover-free mornings, and internal ones, like inner peace, a sense of freedom, and personal growth, provide substance to your journey. The external ones might get you started, but the internal ones keep you going.

Second, you need a supportive environment. This is your water, flexible yet essential. Internal support means self-compassion and self-forgiveness, while external support could be a trusted friend or a mentor. Together, they create a secure base to fall back on when things get complicated.

Last but not least, a little guidance goes a long way. It’s like a pinch of salt, small but essential. Whether it’s a piece of insight from a therapist or tips from someone who’s walked this path, a little guidance is like that gleam of light at the end of the tunnel, guiding you to move forward even when you struggle to see the light.

Now that we’ve got our ingredients lined up let’s talk about common pitfalls to avoid.

Navigating Moderation: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When I was making dumplings, not knowing the right ratio was my downfall. Similarly, when people try to navigate mindful drinking alone, they often make some common mistakes:

  • Going Solo: Trying to figure it all out on your own is like omitting flour in your dough. The journey to find freedom from alcohol is not meant to be traveled alone. External support is essential for change and healing. As Johann Hari famously said in his TED Talk, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It’s connection.”
  • Self-Doubt: Interpreting setbacks as evidence of future failure is like attempting to make dough without water. It’s bound to crumble. Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Every setback provides you with crucial lessons for your journey forward.
  • Tough Love and Shame: Attempting to beat yourself into change is like leaving out the salt in your dough; the dough may seem alright on the outside, but it tastes flat and flavorless. Kindness and compassion toward oneself are essential ingredients in your journey toward sobriety. Sobriety is not just about stopping drinking; it’s about healing and accepting yourself.

With the key ingredients and a list of pitfalls to avoid, let’s discuss the secret sauce of sustaining your sobriety: celebrating the small wins.

The Secret Sauce: 3 Keys to Mindful Drinking

When it comes to cooking or mindful drinking, having a secret sauce can make all the difference. When it comes to thriving in sobriety, here is what will make a difference:

First, uncovering your emotional drive can be transformative. Relying solely on extrinsic motivators often cannot sustain you in the long run. Negative consequences, external rewards, or even internal pressures make the decision not to drink feel forced and obligatory. On the other hand, intrinsic motivations can make a choice feel like it’s coming directly from your heart. What keeps you going are the things that matter most to you, which is who you are and what you care about.

Second, celebrating every win, big or small, is the key to long-lasting success. The first time I managed to wrap a dumpling without tearing the skin, it felt like a win. Small victories, whether choosing to say “no” to a drink at a social event or drinking three beers instead of four, deserve to be celebrated. Each small win builds momentum and confidence. This is a journey about progress, not perfection.

Third, having guidance goes a long way. Just as a YouTube tutorial dramatically improved my dumpling-making skills, having a guide by your side can make all the difference. For some of you, this may be a trusted friend, a relative, a sponsor from Alcoholics Anonymous, or a member of the clergy.

For others, this may be a therapist, a social worker, or a sober wellness guide like me. There is no such thing as one size fits all here. But find someone who can remind you there is light when things get hard.

Your Sober Curiosity Toolkit: Guidance and Support

Just as a good rolling pin can make your cooking experience easier, the right tools can make your mindful drinking journey more manageable.

Changing your relationship with alcohol, like cooking from scratch, can feel daunting at first. But with the right ingredients, a solid recipe, and the right tools, success is not just possible; it’s probable. If you’re unsure where to begin, I created a 30-Day Sober Curiosity Toolkit with all my favorite tools.

Whether you’re rolling out dumpling dough or rolling out a new way of living life with limited alcohol consumption, remember: You don’t have to do it alone.

To find a therapist, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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