Practicing safe and healthy drinking can be difficult during the festive season, especially when drinking is so heavily embedded in Australian culture, especially during the holidays.
During the festivities such as the upcoming Christmas holidays, we usually end up over-indulging in drinks and food, which is not very good to our health both in the short term and long term.
So in this post, we’d like to share some tips on how to control your alcohol intake this festive season and protect your health.
Stay under two drinks
The first thing to take note of is to stay within the recommended guidelines for safe drinking.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks a day, or four standard drinks on a single occasion of drinking to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury and harm.
Every above the recommended guidelines adds to your risk of developing an injury or being involved in alcohol-related accident or violence.
When it comes to drinking alcohol, less is more. So if you can help it, drink only one standard drink, or none at all! Who says you need to have alcohol to have fun during the holidays?
If you plan to drink, plan not to drive.
Remember that any amount of alcohol in your system will affect your ability to think and react properly!
If you have a breathalyser, you can check your BAC but it should never be used as a tool to drink and drive.
And if you’re planning a road trip during the holidays, stay away from alcohol – even if you’re just a passenger! Drunk passengers are just as dangerous as drink drivers as they can cause a distraction inside the car and cause an accident even when the driver is sober.
Eat and hydrate well
It is important to stay hydrated at all times with water, not alcohol. This is especially as we experience a hot, summery Christmas, where the combined effects of heat and alcohol can dehydrate you even more.
One tip to keep track of this is to only refill your glass when it’s empty, not when it’s half full. This is because it’s easier to keep track of how much you’ve already consumed if you’re refilling completely empty glasses each time.
Additionally, it’s important to always eat if you plan to drink. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is very dangerous as it can make you feel drunker faster.
Read the label before drinking
Always be aware of what you’re drinking. Read the label before purchasing any beverage and monitor the alcohol percentage contained in the bottle or can.
If you’re drinking outside, stay away from mixed drinks (they’re usually high on sugar and calories) and stick to wine or beer. This way, you can also ask to see the bottle to check the alcohol content.
In general, it’s important to know what’s a standard drink. A glass of wine or a pint of beer is a serving of alcohol, not a standard drink.
For instance, a 150 ml average restaurant serving of red wine (usually 13% alcohol content) is equivalent to 1.5 standard drinks whereas a 375 ml bottle or can of full strength beer (4.8% alcohol content) is equivalent to 1.4 standard drinks. Drinking just two servings of these would already bring us over two standard drinks.
See the Department of Health’s standard drinks guide to get an overview of the approximate number of standard drinks in common alcoholic beverages.
Take your time
Drink at your own pace and don’t let anyone pressure you to drink more or to drink faster.
Doing so makes it very easy for you to lose count of how much you’ve drunk and get drunk faster.
Alternating your alcohol with water and non-alcoholic drinks may help you control the pace of your drinks for the night.
There are some things you should never mix with alcohol, for example, medication, recreational drugs, energy drinks, and of course, driving.
Some painkillers and antibiotics can cause nausea, vomiting, and liver damage if taken with alcohol. Certain antidepressants can actually increase feelings of depression.
Deal with your hangover safely
After a night of Christmas drinks, you may encounter a bad hangover the following day. The best thing to do is to refuel your body with some food and water. A good example of hangover-friendly foods are chocolate milk, herbal teas, bananas and tomatoes.
For you to re-hydrate, it is not advisable to drink large quantities of water at once as this may lead to water intoxication. Drink water in smaller portions instead – this is sufficient enough to get your body re-hydrated.
Surprisingly, exercising can help with hangovers, too. Mild exercises such as walking or yoga can help to ease the hangover and make you feel better.
It can be hard to remember to drink responsibly, especially when it’s the festive season and everyone is drinking or pressuring you to drink. The key thing is to remember that you don’t need large amounts of alcohol to have fun.
We hope that by following these tips, you can enjoy a safer and healthier festive holiday with alcohol.