You booze, you lose

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Food columnist Shelly Preston on why she lost the wine and won back her skin.

A couple of months ago I spent a few days in the Cotswolds with one of my most brilliant friends of 17 years. The first thing I noticed when I picked her up was her amazing all-giving glow. Gilly hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol since Sept 2012 and boy does it show. She looks incredible, less tired, more radiant – her old self. I wanted me a piece o’ that.


Sometimes we need a sharp kick in the balls and Gilly’s pow wow was mine. I’ve had to face the truth. Nothing good has ever come from my drinking alcohol, particularly red wine. You see, I love a fad – and this may well turn out to be one – but I’m a sucker for a health trend. Yoga, macrobiotic diet, vegetarian, vegan, wholefoods fanatic, purging this, high fibre that. Dr Joshi has stuck untold needles into my body and he’s massaged, cupped and tested me for every raging hormone and bodily toxin – mercury being one so high I replaced every single filling in my head and stopped eating tuna for a year. Don’t judge me.


My skin is my overriding beef with life and I’ll work every trend to try to understand it. I am fair and thin-skinned, prone to early onset wrinkles, sensitive and sensitised to everything – air con, central heating, sun, hot water, manual exfoliation, steam, wind, caffeine and no shit, alcohol. I know this, I have always known this. Every aesthetician, holistic doctor and aromatherapist I’ve ever met has told me this but I have continued to lay the blame for my measle-like spotty face-of-a-blood-orange on anything and everything but, from radiators to the cat.


As I sat in a country pub with Gilly, her with a sparkling water and me cupping a pint of Guinness, the light finally penetrated my thick skull. Just do it. And I did. Bloody lovely as it was, that pint was the last alcoholic drink I’ve had for two months. So now what? Well, this I can report. If you are suffering from angry blind spots, sensitised skin that’s sometimes too sore to touch; ruddy, ageing cheeks, sunken skin and dead shark eyes, then kick your booze to the kerb, now. We know it’s ageing, we know it makes us look shiteous. We need to stop pretending we’re French and that it’s OK to have a few glasses every night because Jane Birkin still looks great, even with wrinkles. We are not Jane Birkin. *collective primal scream*


Eight weeks on, I’m as perky as a daisy and my skin is aglow. Not a single pimple in 6 weeks (a record). Plumper, clearer, massively more calm and comfortable complexion. I’m also free from the enslaving, nightly nip of wine I’d convinced myself was my god-given right as a hard working woman. For a person with woeful willpower, giving up alcohol has been pretty empowering and unbelievably, in my case, a breeze. At this point I feel want to ride out the abstinence in return for permanently better skin. As for my husband, he no longer suffers the tipsy, blue-lipped stranger who can’t bear to be touched with even the whiskers of his beard. It’s been such a resoundingly positive change that I think my future may just be dry. Cheers.

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