Drinking too much? Five ways to cut back on your drinking without losing your social life
According to the NHS, women should drink no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day, while men should drink no more than 3-4 units. And according to anecdotal research, most of us are drinking far more than this…
Britain is a nation of drinkers – from champagne celebrations, to Pimms in the park, to boozy dinner parties, to marathon pub sessions. Quit drinking and you are practically dooming yourself to social seclusion. But too much alcohol can cause many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, liver damage and fatal alcoholism. Most alcoholic drinks are full of sugar, meaning that just one big night out at the weekend can undo all the good work you’ve put in at the gym during the week. It is a difficult balance to get right – how do you cut back on your drinking without losing your social life? We’ve put together five tips to help you stick to your health goals without losing your sense of fun.
1. Don’t be tempted to binge drink
For women, 2-3 units per day equals 14-21 units per week, and despite warnings about binge drinking, many women (and men) prefer to ‘save up’ their units for one big night out on a Friday or Saturday. When you do this, you are flushing your body with a huge, continuous dose of toxic, sugary chemicals which your liver has to work extra hard to process. Not only that, but if you have a lower tolerance to alcohol, you are more likely to injure yourself or overdo it when you do drink to excess.
2. Only drink while you are eating
When you drink a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with a meal, you are less likely to get drunk quickly, so you can take your time over a glass or two without anyone noticing. This is also a great way to keep tabs on your calorie intake – many of us are diligent when it comes to calorie counting in our food, but we forget about the calories we regularly consume by drinking. By forcing yourself to eat while you drink, you are maintaining the association between calorie consumption and booze, allowing you to stay on top of your calorie intake, even when you out and about.
3. Alternate with a soft drink
This is the oldest trick in the book, but it really works. Start your night with a big glass of water, so you don’t end up drinking alcohol to quench your thirst. Then order a soft drink between alcoholic drinks to half your evening’s alcohol levels and keep your hangover at bay by keeping you hydrated throughout the night. If you are feeling self-conscious about not drinking, choose a soft drink which could easily be mistaken for alcohol, for instance, a diet coke could easily be a rum and coke, and a soda water could easily be a gin and tonic.
4. Be the designated driver
If you are ever in a situation where a designated driver is needed, make sure you are the first to volunteer. Ok, it might not be the most fun job in the world, but it is the best excuse for not drinking, and your friends will be forever grateful that you made the sacrifice for them. If you want to fit in, grab a nonalcoholic beer or cider – there are some great tasting options on the market at the moment.
5. Go teetotal for charity
Use your health kick for a good cause by giving up alcohol completely as a way of raising money for charity. This is a big commitment, so make sure you are able to see it through. Set up a fund-raising page and ask friends and family to donate a pound for every day that you stay on the wagon. Supplement the fund yourself by donating whatever money you would have spent on drinks during an average night out. Give yourself a decent deadline (one month, six months, or even a year!) and stick to it. You will be amazed at how much better you feel, and how much money you have saved.
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