New Year resolutions - cut back on alcohol?


As we prepare for Big Ben's gongs to bring in the New Year, one of many resolutions for next year might involve limiting how much alcohol we drink. While some of us simply might want to detox after a heavy Christmas, others might want to stop drinking altogether.

Drinking less alcohol can improve both our general physical and mental health, but can also have many other benefits. These include:

• Helping us to feel better in the mornings and giving us more energy during the day

• Helping us cut calories - in general there are around 500 calories in a bottle of 12% strength wine, almost 200 calories in a pint of beer and even more in some cocktails

• Reduce the long-term risk of serious diseases including bowel, breast and liver cancers, liver disease and cardiovascular disease

• Helping our sleep patterns and ensuring we rest better.

Tips for cutting back

Take your time

You might want to try gradually reducing how much you drink, so look to stay within the healthy limits. These are 21 units per week (and three to four units per day) for men and 14 units per week (two to three units per day) for women. One or two alcohol-free days per week are also recommended.

Keep yourself hydrated

Some people drink more alcohol than they intended to because they are thirsty. A large glass of water before you start drinking should help that, and you might want to try a few non-alcoholic drinks throughout your evening out.

Check the label

The label will tell you how much alcohol is in your drink. Lower alcohol percentages are better, or even try alcohol-free versions.

Try a smaller glass

If you regularly drink wine, try choosing smaller (125 ml) glasses. Use a measure at home when you mix spirits, which can help you to keep track of how much you are drinking.

Have a day off

If you drink alcohol each day, taking a break can be quite difficult. There are, however, several health benefits to taking some time off, which include reducing your tolerance level. This means your body becomes less used to alcohol, which in turn will help you to cut down the amount you drink in future.

Getting help

Let your family and friends know that you are cutting back - you might be surprised at how supportive they are. If you are worried that you may be dependent on alcohol, ask your GP for advice.

Specialised information and support

If you want to understand a little more about alcohol and how to manage your drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle:

DrinkAware

If you're concerned about your drinking and think it may be becoming a problem to your health or lifestyle:

Alcohol Concern

If you have a drink problem and need support:

Alcoholics Anonymous

If you need support coping with a friend or family member who has a drinking problem:

Al-Anon