Emma Gilmour is one of Australia’s first This Naked Mind and Grey Area Drinking Certified alcohol coaches, a qualified counsellor, psychotherapist and Tuning into Teens™ emotionally intelligent parenting expert.

Emma started drinking at the age of 13, and finally packed it in the day her eldest child asked her to leave the wine glass out of the bedroom. These days, she’s at the helm of Hope Rising Coaching, supporting women to look after their health, their wellbeing and their families by understanding and tackling their relationship with alcohol.

Give us some background on yourself (interests, age, profession, etc)

I’m originally from England, but I grew up in Africa. As an adult, I moved to London to pursue a career in Marketing. It was the 90s so I was working hard and playing hard. I met my husband and we moved here, to Australia, and had kids.

Suddenly I was working at the same feverish rate in my professional career, while trying to raise a family. I was doing contract work for huge brands and always trying to prove myself so I could gain a real foothold in this new country.

It was a recipe for a complete breakdown, which of course happened. And that’s when I completely changed my life, and my career. Because I realised that what I was experiencing was ridiculously common.

Why have you decided to move to non-alcoholic drinks?

With my own children approaching the age I was when I took my first drink, I started reflecting on my decades-long relationship with alcohol.

I’ve realised that alcohol makes kids feel insecure. So, you’re doing all this work to be the best parent you can be, but when you dive into a bottle of wine, you’re actually no longer present for them in the ways they need. These days I’m a huge fan of the great range of non-alcoholic drinks out there.

What were the benefits you gained from lowering or stopping your alcohol intake?

As a peri-menopausal woman, the impact has been huge! It’s one of those ridiculous, taboo subjects, but it needs to be talked about.

As a woman, you have less alcohol dehydrogenase in your body than a man - the enzyme that helps the liver break down alcohol. And levels decline further in peri-menopause and beyond.

Then there’s the anxiety - a symptom of peri-menopause. Alcohol is also well known to exacerbate anxiety and depression. So many women experiencing peri-menopausal anxiety reach for alcohol to relieve these symptoms, but are actually just making them worse.

Alcohol also messes with oestrogen, which can lead to some serious counter indications, including urinary incontinence, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and low libido.

And as if that wasn’t enough, it can trigger hot flushes, affect sleep and generally multiply the effects of hormonal changes. All the fun stuff!

Do you still drink alcohol sometimes?

Nope! I’ve realised it doesn’t serve me, doesn’t actually make me happy and doesn’t add anything to my life. And, luckily, there’s no reason to miss out when there are so many fab substitutes.

How have people reacted when you decided to drink non-alcoholic beverages?

I’m an open book about my experiences. And the people who know and love me see the difference it’s made. I don’t think anyone underestimates the impact of going booze-free.

Do you have a partner in sobriety? If yes, who?

Only my kids and other alcohol coach buddies - my hubby is still a boozer!

What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Sorry I can’t just pick one!!!! White wine: Giesen Sauv Blanc, Red Fizz: Edenvale Sparking Shiraz, Red wine: Funky Monkey Shiraz or Plus/ minus pinot noir, White bubbles: Noughty. I love Palermo and making an AF version of Aperol Spritz. Beers my fav is Heaps Normal, 2nd Big Drop, 3rd anything by Sobah. I also love the botanicals Aces of Brunswick and Seadrift being my favourite.

Where do you usually enjoy your non-alcoholic drinks? i.e social events, home, after exercise.

Well, being in Melbourne and it being lock-down, mainly at home or at a picnic.

Finally, to whom would you recommend making this choice?

Honestly, anyone, but particularly women whose bodies and minds could really do with a break from the added stresses of alcohol.

Sherif Goubran