How much alcohol should you have? Tips to avoid drinking too much during the holidays
With awareness and preparation, you'll be better equipped to monitor your alcohol intake.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
As the holiday season gets into full swing, your social calendar might be filled with events, parties and family get-togethers. One thing these events will often have in common? Alcohol – and lots of it.
Guidelines developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse suggest that to minimize the impacts of alcohol, men should limit their alcohol intake to four drinks per day and three for women.
Gut health specialist Vincent Pedre recommended drinking one to two drinks per night. However, he advises that if you do go over, limiting your drinks to one per hour and four per evening, along with throwing some snacks into the mix, can help slow down the absorption of alcohol.
If you are hoping to sidestep a hangover after a few too many mulled wines, here are some effective ways to drink less while still enjoying the festivities.
Tips to cut down on holiday drinking
If you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, a few simple things can help.
Create a drinking plan
Before you skip off to your next holiday gathering, write out a plan to define how you will drink less. The more specific you can be, the more effective you will be. This is the psychology behind goal setting.
Your action plan should include measurable goals.
How many drinks do you want to drink?
What will they be?
What time will you have them?
Do you want to stay completely sober?
If so, what alternatives will you drink instead?
Keep yourself accountable by keeping a record of how you did. If you don’t hit it, don’t worry, you can try again at the next event.
De-stress before a party
With the holidays comes lots of stress and extra tasks, which can cause you to reach for an extra drink. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your stress without alcohol.
Taking time to de-stress before entering a social situation is a great way to help you stay conscious of how much you are drinking.
Before a gathering, try relaxing with breathing and de-stressing exercises, giving yourself a quick neck massage, taking a bath or working out. You can do these things quickly and at home, making them easier to fit around your busy holiday schedule.
Alternate drinks with alcohol-free alternatives
Do you love the taste of certain alcoholic drinks? Do you look forward to toasting with your favourite festive drink every year — but then end up drinking too much?
If this is the case, try alternating every drink with a non-alcoholic alternative. And remember that not drinking doesn’t have to mean sticking to water or soda.
Many Canadian brands now offer non-alcoholic beers, spirits and mixed drinks. Or, try mixing yourself a festive mocktail. When you make it fun, you won’t notice you are reducing your alcohol intake.
Bring your own drinks
Bringing your own drinks is a smart way to minimize your alcohol intake and keep track of what you are drinking.
You can plan when you will drink them and pace yourself throughout the night. As a result, you are less likely to lose track of how many different drinks you’ve sampled.
Don’t be the last guest standing
While you can stay at that party as late as you want, the longer you stay, the more drinks you are likely to consume.
Even if the party is still going, have an exit strategy and stick to it. Choose a hard cut-off time, set an alarm on your phone, or tell a friend to call you. You’ll thank yourself the next day.
Remind yourself why you are doing it
When you feel like reaching for another glass of wine, remind yourself of the good things that come from minimizing your drinking.
Will it help you progress towards your fitness and health goals, be more present with your family or feel more productive the next day? Focus on your personal and professional goals and how alcohol might impact them.
Enjoy alcohol in moderation this holiday season
It's important to learn how to balance alcohol and your health.
It's possible to have fun while drinking less and avoiding hungover anxiety. Remind yourself by writing down ways you can have fun sober. You may even want to make a list of the family and friends you would like to spend more time with without drinking too much.
With more awareness, preparation, and tools at the ready, you'll be better equipped to avoid overindulging in alcohol during the holidays.
If you feel you need support with alcohol abuse, you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous Canada.
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