Drinking alcohol can introduce risks to your health, and so, the more you drink, the more risks that are involved. We have put together some tips on how to start drinking less alcohol and have listed some of the benefits that come with drinking less.
When you’re at home, you have more control so it is important to begin implementing changes without the added peer pressure you may feel on a night out. Here are some things to practice at home:
A measure of spirit is 25ml and contains 1 unit.
A small glass of wine is 125ml and contains 1.5 units.
A medium glass of wine is 175ml and contains 2.1 units.
A large glass of wine is 250mls and contains 3 units.
A 330ml bottle of beer or cider contains 1.7 units.
A pint of beer or cider contains 2-3 units.
A 750ml bottle of wine contains 10 units.
Try not to drink too much in one go and take smaller sips. You could try adding lemonade to your drinks (this goes well with white wines, rosés and beers) to dilute them. It can also be a good idea to distract yourself from your drink by getting involved with something else, for example, if you’re in a pub that has a darts board, why not have a go! This will focus your mind on a different task so that each drink lasts longer.
It can be easy to get carried away when out at a bar or club but giving yourself a curfew can help prevent you from drinking too much and ending up with a hangover the next day. You could also try to arrange catch-ups with friends in an environment that lacks the temptation of alcohol, for example, coffee shops and fast-food restaurants are less likely to serve alcoholic beverages.
Being aware of the amount of alcohol you are consuming and monitoring can help you cut down. Guidelines recommend that men and women do not exceed more than 14 units in a week (equivalent to seven glasses of wine or 6 pints of beer) in order to reduce risks to your health. Try to keep a diary to log your alcohol consumption and aim to spread your units over the week, doing your best to include alcohol-free days.
It can be difficult to say no to friends, especially if they are trying to pressure you into drinking and they are drinking themselves. There are two routes that you can take here:
If you are not comfortable telling people that you are consciously avoiding your alcohol intake, whether that is due to fears of questions being fired your way or any other personal reason, it may help to plan some reasons to not overindulge. For example, you could say that you have an early start the next day, you’re driving, or that you are trying your best to save some money. The main thing to remember here is that you do not have to justify your decision to cut down on alcohol and everyone has a choice.
Discussing struggles with alcohol can be daunting, but sometimes opening up honest conversations like these can be useful and help others to both understand and be supportive of your decision to cut down. It is totally up to you how much information you want to share and you could also consider letting family and friends know how they could help you along the way. Despite the headlines, more and more people are choosing to cut back. People will respect and admire your discipline.
There are lots of alcohol-free and low-alcohol options out there for you to try out. Today, the majority of bars, clubs and restaurants have alcohol-free choices - it’s fast becoming the norm. Why not try ordering a mocktail on your next night out which is free from alcohol but still packs a lot of great tastes!?
If you find that you’re struggling to manage your alcohol intake around friends who are drinking, you could consider socialising with people who don’t drink. This can be difficult at first, particularly if the majority of your friends drink regularly, however, you can always find non-drinkers on social media pages dedicated to sobriety and events that do not serve alcohol. Engaging with alcohol-free groups can help you stay on track and will allow you to discover activities that don’t involve alcohol...who knows, you may even discover a new hobby!
Never drink alcohol to quench a thirst. Instead, order a glass of water alongside your alcoholic beverage so that you can enjoy the taste of the alcohol but keep hydrated with your water.
If you get too used to drinking alone, you may start drinking excessively. If you can coach yourself to see drinking alcohol as something to treat yourself to whilst on a night out with friends, opposed to something you reward yourself with after a long day at work, the road to cutting down on alcohol will become smoother.
Downloading an app such as Drink Free Days can help support you when cutting down on alcohol. Using an app such as this will allow you to nominate drink-free days and offer you guidance on how to stick to your goals. Essentially, they serve as a daily reminder to monitor your daily alcohol intake.
You may be wondering why you should make the effort to reduce your alcohol intake, and, the truth is, there are many benefits to drinking less alcohol. Here are just a few reasons why should consider drinking less:
Drinking less alcohol will help to reduce your risks of developing serious health issues such as heart or liver disease and cancer. Further to this, reducing your alcohol intake will help to increase your energy levels and improve your ability to concentrate.
Drinking too much can prevent your body from functioning properly, as it can only process one unit of alcohol per hour. Some of the effects of drinking too much are:
Drinking alcohol can contribute to mental health struggles and worsen existing issues. For example, if you drink alcohol to cope with your anxiety, you may experience the opposite effect. If you notice that you feel low or depressed after drinking, you should aim to drink less and could consider seeking help from a professional. Aside from improving your mood, drinking less can also help you to sleep better, helping you to feel refreshed and well-rested the following day.
As drinking alcohol can dehydrate your body, this also affects your skin, which relies on nutrients and vitamins. In the long-term, drinking too much can lead to the skin condition ‘rosacea’ which causes redness of the face, dry skin, swelling around the eyes and thickened skin.
Alcohol can contain high numbers of calories; in fact, just one pint of beer can contain the same number of calories as a large slice of pizza ! Moreover, the calories in alcohol are referred to as ‘empty calories’ because they do not provide the body with nutrients. Reducing your alcohol consumption can both help you to shed some pounds and encourage you to consume drinks which will benefit your body, such as water.
You may not consider how much money you are spending over the course of a year on alcoholic drinks, in fact, the average UK drinker will spend over £38,000 on pints of beer alone in a lifetime (this figure could be double for those living in London). Being mindful of your spending habits on alcohol could help you to save money in the long run; you can find out how much money you could save by avoiding alcohol for just one month with this handy calculator.
So, now that we have covered some of the benefits to drinking less, it could be useful for you to note down your own personal reasons for wanting to drink less. When you have recorded your list of reasons, try keeping them close-by, so that they can serve as a daily reminder and keep you motivated!
If you live in Dorset and you’re looking for support in consuming less alcohol, we’re here to help! You can register or talk to our friendly team today to help guide you on your journey to drinking less alcohol. You can even take our Rethink your Drink quiz to learn more about your relationship with alcohol.
For more advice on drinking, you can register to see how we can help you. For a general look into your overall health, you can take the Are you Living Well? quiz to see how you compare to national guidelines.