SO HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
According to the Healthy Eating Pyramid, alcohol is termed as ‘optional’. In other words, it is not a basic nutritional need. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism describes a safe amount as one to three drinks per day – one drink being about a 12 ounce (300ml) can or bottle of beer, or a 5 ounce (148ml) glass of wine, or a shot (about 44ml) of liquor or spirit. Spirits are generally served in 25, 35 or 50ml glasses, and wines in 250ml for larger glasses and 175 or 125ml for smaller glasses. Beers come in 250, 350, 500ml or onelitre cans or bottles. A bottle of wine (about 750ml) for example, would be far above the recommended limit (between 148 – 444ml) when consumed. Unfortunately, most people can finish a bottle of wine without realising it. Also, drinking a week’s worth of alcohol in a few hours and abstaining for the rest of the week is not the same as keeping within limits.
Keeping in mind how many drinks you intend to have in, say, a week, is the first step towards actualising your goal. Keep track by counting (or even writing down). Looking back at your week’s drink diary will help you better understand the extent of your situation. For some people, setting a fixed drink budget works.
Like food, you are likely to consume everything in your glass or bottle, even without the intention to do so. Instead of pouring freely, measure your drink with a unit cup. It would also help to pour you own drink; it’s harder to keep track when someone else is constantly topping you up.
You may drink more at home than you realise, especially while doing it in front of the TV (with the added confidence of being at home and not in public). Is it possible to replace the beers in your fridge with soft drinks? Sometimes you ‘grab’ a beer simply because it’s available.
Most people have successfully cut down (and even eventually quit) by pacing their drinks and sipping slowly, and having a fresh drink every one hour. If you happen to have had a heavy drinking spree, avoid alcohol for the next 48 hours.
Most times, hunger and thirst can be confused for a craving for a drink, especially because hunger and thirst makes people cranky. Besides that, eating reduces the chance of alcohol absorption into the blood stream, helping curtail the amount of alcohol you might consume. More importantly, stay hydrated by drinking water before and in between drinks.
Opt for drinks with lower alcohol content. Don’t be fooled by ‘pretty’ drinks, especially cocktails – they often contain much more alcohol (and calories) than you may imagine. If in doubt, ask how much alcohol they contain.
Do not shy away from asking the bar attendants / waiters the information you need concerning the alcohol content of the drink you choose.
If you are really trying to cut down, it would help to avoid the people, places or activities you associate with drinking. Opt out of rounds as well – you’ll always drink more while out with a large of group of people if each one is getting you several rounds.
Remember, it’s always okay to say ‘no’ to drink offers. Learn to do so politely and firmly. Let your friends and family know what you are trying to do and explain that it is important that they offer you their support.