“I gave myself the gift of better habits”

Name: Thomas Sjövall 
Age: 70 years.
Relationship with alcohol: Has actively chosen to start drinking less in order not to cross the line into risky drinking.

Thomas Sjövall. Photo: Annika af Klercker

“For many years now, I have been drinking only wine. I have never had wine on the wrong occasion, only in connection to the social situations where it is normally served. My medical check-ups have shown nice liver values, and I haven’t been feeling tired the day after dinners. Still, a few years ago, I felt that I was drinking more than what I really was comfortable with. That’s when I decided that I would give myself better alcohol habits as a gift for my 70th birthday.

I started reading up on alcohol and lifestyle changes and started writing down my thoughts. That turned into a book. Writing it helped me in the process of creating new habits, but I also think that it could help others. There are many books about how to break an addiction and become an absolute teetotaller, but I haven’t seen any other book about how someone who isn’t dependent can start drinking less.

My model is to never drink more than two glasses, regardless of occasion. That way you never cross the line to risky drinking, which for a man is drawn at fourteen glasses per week, or four glasses at one time. These days when I go to a dinner, I will often have a pre-dinner drink and then a glass of wine with the meal. After that, I stick to water in my wine glass. I have set my mind on that and don’t need to think about my consumption during dinner.

The book, which is called 2 glas vin [2 glasses of wine], was finished right on time for my 70th birthday in January this year. I had a big party at Nalen, and during desert, I gave a speech about my project, which I had been keeping a secret. All the guests got to take home a copy of the book if they wanted to, and most of them did. Many have told me afterwards that the book helped them to adopt better habits. Personally, I feel freer now; alcohol and wine are taking up less space in my life.”

As told to Annika Lund
First published in Swedish in the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap, no 3, 2015

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