The new year period is often the time when people state their intentions to live a healthier lifestyle, by going to the gym, quitting smoking or cutting down on the amount of alcohol that that they drink each week.
Of course, many of these ‘resolutions’ don’t last very long and we’re back into our bad habits before we know it. However, with the right inspiration and motivation there is no reason why you cannot stick to the cause and, for example, cut down on alcohol. You could quit all together if you really stay focused.
Today’s article will first outline the dangers of drinking too much alcohol, before moving on to some helpful tips on ways to cut down.
The Dangers of Alcohol
Alcohol can be very dangerous if you drink too much on a regular basis. Not only can it cause personality and physical changes during the time that you’re drinking it, leading to violence and illness, but it can also cause long-term medical conditions.
The latest UK guidelines on alcohol advise that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units per week. This figure is equal to:
- Six pints of 4% beer.
- Six glasses of 13% wine.
- 14, 25ml glasses of 40% spirits.
Anybody who is pregnant should not drink any alcohol at all. It is also suggested that if you do drink 14 units per week, that you spread your drinking out over three or more days.
Heavy drinking, on a regular basis, can put you at risk of several medical conditions. Liver disease is the most common and well-known condition that is linked to alcohol abuse, however your risk of mouth, throat, bowel and breast cancer also increases if you drink on a regular basis.
There is also the risk of alcohol poisoning. This occurs when you drink a toxic amount of alcohol during a short period of time, also known as binge drinking. Suffering from this can put your life at risk, as it can lead to you choking on your vomit, having a heart attack, suffering from severe dehydration and from seizures. You can find out more about the dangers on the NHS website.
In 2015/16, there were an estimated 1,119,022 admissions related to alcohol consumption in England, where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis.” – Drinkaware
Drinking too much alcohol can also have a negative effect on your relationships and family life. As previously mentioned, drinking too much can alter your personality – leading to arguments and violence in some cases. Family life may become strained, especially when you consider the cost of alcohol. Over the past few years, in an attempt to make the country healthier, the government have been adding more tax onto the price of alcohol.
Alcohol can also affect your appearance. The amount of calories within beer can lead to what it commonly known as a ‘beer belly’. The more that you drink, the more bloated your stomach and face will become.
Fortunately there are some hints and tips that you can follow to help cut down or even quit drinking altogether. Here’s our top five:
1. Let your Friends and Family Know!
If you’re going to stand a chance of cutting down or quitting alcohol you need to inform the people around you. This is important for a number of different reasons. Firstly, they will be able to offer you their support – something that is vital if you’re going to succeed. They will be able to motivate you along your journey and they may even decide to join you.
Letting friends and family know also means that they’re less likely to put you in a position where you may be tempted. Your family will know to keep alcohol out of the house, whilst your friends will know not to buy you a pint before the football or after work.
The support and acceptance of your loved ones can go a long way in achieving your goal.
2. Avoid Temptation
Letting your loved ones know about your plans is a great way to prevent them from buying or offering you alcohol, however you also need to help yourself by avoiding temptation. This is especially important during the early weeks of your cut down.
The best way of doing this is to write down all of your previous triggers, times where you would almost definitely have a drink or two. You can then look at ways of avoiding these situations, or solutions to them. For example, instead of heading down to the pub after work why don’t you suggest going to the cinema or to the gym?
If you’re going to a restaurant for a meal, or to the football match, ensure that you’re the designated driver. This means that you can legally only have one alcoholic drink and will be able to stick to your drinking diet.
Instead of having a glass of wine with your evening meal, ensure that there is a jug of water or juice on the table. Not only will this keep you hydrated but it may even help you finish your meal without feeling bloated.
3. Give Yourself a Budget
If you’re cutting down on the amount you drink then it’s a good idea to give yourself a budget. You can set a limit on how much you’re aloud to spend on alcohol per week or per month. In order to help you cut down, you should give your self a budget that will only allow you to buy a small amount.
There are ways to ensure that you stick to your budget. For example you could get your drinking allowance out at the start of the month and only take the amount you need on that day out with you – no debit or credit cards.
You could even come up with some form of forfeit if you fail to stick to your budget. The forfeit could be that you have very little budget for the next month or that you have to visit, watch or play something that you don’t like doing.
Being strict with yourself is a great motivator and can ensure that your plan to cut down works.
4. Set Goals and Reward Yourself
It’s important you don’t just go all out and go ‘cold turkey’. This can cause plenty of frustration for you and it is likely that you could give in. Instead, you need to set yourself weekly and monthly targets that you hope to achieve.
You should also have rewards ready and waiting for you should you achieve your goal. For example, when you achieve your first alcohol-free week you could reward yourself with a nice meal or a new item of clothing. For your first alcohol-free month you could treat yourself to a short trip away or tickets to a show.
The amount of money that you save by not drinking will come in very handy in selecting your treats! By announcing possible treats, you are motivating yourself to try even harder in your quest to cut down.
5. Go Smaller and Stay Hydrated
A good way of ensuring that you continue to cut down on the amount you’re drinking is by having smaller drinks. Instead of a pint you could have a bottled beer or half a pint, or instead of a large glass of wine, go for the smaller option.
Going for the lower strength drinks will also help. Rather than going for the high percentage ales, go for a low percentage lager. Try and avoid spirits as much as you can as they have very high levels of alcohol. All percentage information can be found on the bottles or drinks menu.
It’s also important to stay hydrated if you’re planning on having a drink. You should have a glass of water before you have a drink and try to alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink.
Stay Strong and Reap the Benefits
By using the tips mentioned above and sticking to your own personal aims you’ll be able to reach your target amount of alcohol per month or you may even reach your goal of quitting altogether. One thing you should do along the way is to enjoy the benefits that cutting down or quitting can bring. These include:
- Feeling less tired during the day.
- Feeling better in the mornings.
- A positive outlook and mood.
- A stronger immune system.
- More money.
- Better relationships.
- Better skin.
- Being at a healthier weight.
There are so many benefits to cutting down or quitting that within a few months you should be able to easily go without a drink. You’ll just feel so much better about your health, personality and about the spare cash in your wallet.
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