Tips to watch your alcohol over Christmas

Sian with a glass of champagne next to a Christmas tress

With the festive season upon us and work Christmas do’s coming up, it’s often common to indulge in more alcohol than usual. 

Relaxing and enjoying your time with your loved ones during the festive season is essential. However, it is important to be mindful of our alcohol consumption, as excessive binge drinking poses potential health risks.

How does alcohol affect our health?

Alcohol can have a range of effects on the body and mind.

Whilst there is some truth that low to moderate alcohol consumption can have protective effects on heart health. Research indicates a healthy diet and regular exercise are far more effective at protecting the heart, and the health risks of consuming low to moderate alcohol outweigh the benefits.

Regular alcohol consumption is related to several major disease and injury conditions worldwide.  Drinking more than the recommended limits may lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems. These include: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.   Alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.

It is hard to determine how alcohol will affect someone on an individual level. However, drinking within the recommended guidelines of 14 units spread over a week will reduce your risk of alcohol-related major disease. 

How can I drink mindfully over the festive period?

These are a few simple things you can do to drink more mindfully and see you through the festive season with your health intact

  1. Know your limits and stick to them – You may decide to drink less alcohol and only have a certain number of drinks, stop drinking at a particular time, or stick to non-alcoholic drinks.   Whichever you go for, set a limit and try to keep to this.  The recommendation is to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more. 
  2. Stay hydrated – alcohol dehydrates the body, so we often feel sluggish and headachy the day after a few drinks.  Having a glass of water or a soft drink between alcoholic ones can help your body stay hydrated and may reduce the hangover the next day
  3. Drink slowly – take sips and not gulps, enjoy your drink and make it last rather than gulping it down.
  4. Make a swap – making small swaps when out drinking can make a difference to the units you are drinking.  Try swapping a larger wine for small, adding soda to white wine, and having a single rather than a double with more mixer to reduce the alcohol and make the drink last longer.
  5. Experiment with non-alcoholic drinks –  thanks to a wave of innovation by distilleries and breweries across the globe there are some amazing non-alcoholic alternatives out there these days it’s worth giving them a try.
  6. Have a balanced, filling meal before a night out – this will reduce the rate at which alcohol is absorbed in the body, and avoid pre-drinks before leaving the house.  Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through your mouth, stomach and small intestines. The absorption is faster if consumed on an empty stomach.   Food physically obstructs alcohol from coming into contact with the lining of the stomach and delays emptying into the small intestines where it would be absorbed faster. Drinking on an empty stomach can also irritate your digestive system and leave you with uncomfortable symptoms.

Bottom line

Christmas is a time to enjoy and spend time with loved ones, but not at the expense of your health.

Cutting back even a little really allows you to enjoy the special period, cherish the holidays and keep you healthier.     

*The given advice is not appropriate for those who are alcohol dependent, who will need professional help and advice from their GP or other appropriate services. 

For more advice see drinkware, NHS and AlcoholChange

If you’d like my help in supporting you over the Christmas period I would love to hear from you


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