Alcohol Awareness Week
Home from work, coat off, shoes off, pour a drink…
Settle down to dinner with a bottle of wine…
Kids in bed, open the gin…
Any of those sound familiar?
One in five of us drink more than the recommended weekly amount, which increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. It also makes your skin look dry and unhealthy.
STOP ALL ALCOHOL!!!!
No. I’m not going to say that. I’m not even going to do it myself. It’s not about stopping all drinking, it is about habits, reducing drinking, and making small changes.
The NHS are promoting “Drink Free Days” as research shows that not drinking on specific days is more effective than trying to reduce the number of drinks per session.
Of course, as with everything… there’s an app for that (check at the end). It helps you track your drink free days and helps you to understand your current drinking. But it isn’t all about apps, it is about habits.
When do you drink?
The evening drinks?
If you drink during the evening at home, then try altering it to just during dinner. A glass of wine, or a beer throughout the mealtime is nice, and then you don’t drink any more when food is finished. Have a hot drink with dessert.
The just got in after a long day drink?
Generally, this drink is seen as something that will help you to unwind and reset after a stressful day. But before reaching for your glass, consider just stopping everything for a bit. Use an app like Headspace, or some of the other breathing techniques we have suggested here, and try to still your mind with that instead of alcohol.
The join me drink?
You may not desperately want a drink, but your partner does, and drinking alone seems rude, so you have a drink with them. Discuss your plans to reduce drinking, and either work together doing the same as each other, or at the very least don’t offer alcohol to the one who isn’t having any — it isn’t rude, it is respectful.
Make it a large one?
No. Buy small wine glasses rather than the ones that hold most of a bottle of wine. Buy an alcohol measure so that you can pour yourself accurate amounts of spirits.
Finish it off?
You wine will not “go off” if you don’t drink it all that night. Buy a decent bottle stopper and it will be just fine to drink in a day or two.
Drinking in rounds gets expensive and is a nightmare if you are trying to cut down, as everyone drinks to keep up with the fastest drinker. Buy your own drinks instead and go at your own pace.
Went out without eating properly? You’ll end up filling up with alcohol, and in turn it will affect you faster leading to poor choices. If you fill up with a healthy meal before you go out, you will drink more slowly, and stay in control, helping you to stick to your reduction plan.
Keep track of how many drinks you have as you drink — it can seem like you have only had a couple, but in reality, it is pint #6. By tracking it then you are more aware of how many you have had. Drinkaware have an app for that too.
Keep it small
Like drinking at home, smaller glasses help you to cut down. Drink bottles or half pints instead of pints. Drink small glasses of wine. Have single spirits instead of doubles.
What’s in it for me?
Well, apart from that whole heart disease, liver, cancer stuff, there are less life threatening but more noticeable benefits to having drink free days.
“But I sleep really soundly after a few drinks!”
No, you fall into deep sleep more easily, but throughout the night the amount of restful sleep you have becomes disrupted, leaving you tired and lacking in energy the next day. Alcohol free days should give you more energy and make waking up in the morning easier.
No, I can’t actually think of any mythological appearance benefits to drinking (maybe how you view others…?).
Alcohol is a diuretic, leading you to go to the toilet more, and in turn become dehydrated.
Alcohol free days will allow your skin to be properly hydrated and stop looking dull and make your eyes brighter.
Having a pint of beer with your dinner is the equivalent of adding a large slice of pizza to your plate. Drink free days = fewer calories in = weight improvement.
So, what do you think? There really aren’t any downsides to having Drink Free Days. You lower your risk of the nasty stuff, you look better, you feel better, and when you do have that drink, it becomes more of a treat to be enjoyed rather than a habit.
2019 edit — This year alcohol related diseases has actually overtaken hepatitis C as the top reason for liver transplants.
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