When alcohol sales across the U.S. dipped in 2019, Kelly Ripa joked that she was to blame. “They’re saying that Americans bought less wine last year,” Ripa said on ABC’s Live with Kelly and Ryan in Jan. 2020. “It’s the first drop in a quarter of a century. …I believe this is because I quit drinking, that I caused this dip. I have influenced the market.”
At the time, she didn’t reveal why she’d given up alcohol, and many people wondered what was behind the peppy talk show host’s decision. The next month, however, the now 51-year-old mom of three opened up about the life change, revealing her motivation for bidding booze goodbye. Read on to find out why Ripa put down her wine glass for good—and the one thing that surprised her about sober living.
RELATED: If This Happens When You Drink Alcohol, It Might Be Time to Stop.
Like many of us, Ripa says she enjoyed drinking in moderation prior to giving up alcohol in 2019. Still, she told People magazine in 2020, she felt lingering effects after a night of indulgence. “I wasn’t someone who got drunk—but even like two glasses of wine at a girl’s night out dinner; I would feel it the next morning.”
That’s not surprising, since women are more likely to feel the side effects of alcohol faster than men, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). “Alcohol resides predominantly in body water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men,” they explain. “This means that after a woman and a man of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC, the amount of alcohol in the blood) will tend to be higher, putting her at greater risk for harm.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), citing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, “do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason,” and say that if women do choose to drink, they should limit consumption to one (or less!) drinks per day.
Although the timing of Ripa’s turn to sobriety roughly coincided with Ryan Seacrest joining her as co-host on the morning show, prompting him to joke on air that there was a connection—”I started the show and she quit drinking. What does that tell you?”—the truth is, there was no drama behind her decision.
Ripa says she simply took on a challenge to stop drinking for one month, along with a group of friends. “I did a sober month—all my girlfriends did it, we all did it together—and I just never went back to it,” she told People. “I just didn’t really feel the need or desire to go back to it. It wasn’t really a choice or a thought, it was just, ‘Yeah, I guess I don’t drink anymore.'”
Unlike giving up tobacco, which she says she did 25 years ago, cutting out booze wasn’t a struggle. “Quitting [tobacco] I really had to think about,” she said. “But drinking was very easy. I didn’t really think about it at all.”
The surprising thing about quitting drinking, Ripa told People, was how many people questioned her choice. When she stopped using tobacco, “Nobody ever asked me why. But I quit drinking and everyone’s like, ‘Why did you quit drinking?’ …for me it was just like, I don’t do that anymore. I felt better so I just stopped.”
Psychotherapist Veronica Valli, founder of the Soberful sobriety program, says the reaction Ripa received isn’t unusual. “If you think about our culture, it’s not something we ever really question (until we do). We believe that alcohol is the best way to have fun, excitement, belonging, and connection. Who would want to give that up? Which is why people push back and say ‘one won’t hurt.’ They want things to stay as they are because it’s easier and more comfortable.”
For more up-to-date information, sign up for our
For many of us, abstaining from our after-work beer or nightly glass of wine feels unthinkable—especially since the pandemic, during which sales of wine and hard liquor spiked, according to CNN. But Ripa says she didn’t have any trouble leaving the habit behind. In fact, she had quite the opposite experience. “It felt great,” Ripa told People. “I felt like I looked great, I felt like I didn’t feel hungover.”
Judging from her glowing skin and seemingly boundless energy, we’d agree that not drinking certainly seems to suit her—and may even inspire some others try a sober month (or more!) as well!
RELATED: Drinking Any of This Popular Beverage Hurts Your Heart, New Study Finds.