Noughty Organic Sparkling Wine, £8.99 Thomas & Scott
Drinking more than usual? Here’s how to cut back without cutting out
Whilst we have all missed out on meeting friends and family in our favourite bars and pubs over the last couple of years (it really has been that long), we have probably not realised the amount of alcohol we have consumed over the festive period
Regularly drinking in excess of 14 units of alcohol each week can increase anxiety, interrupt your sleep and will cause weight gain. Longer term, it can raise the risk of some cancers, including breast cancer, and cardiovascular and other major organ problems. Alcohol interferes with the normal sleep process so you often wake up feeling – and looking – like you haven’t had much rest. Alcohol dehydrates your body, including the skin. It’s also thought to deprive the skin of certain vital vitamins and nutrients.
With two large glasses of wine containing the same number of calories as a burger, it’s also easy to see why regular drinking can make you gain weight. Alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Because we can’t store alcohol in the body, our systems want to get rid of it as quickly as possible, and this process takes priority over absorbing nutrients and burning fat.
That’s sobering stuff. So how can we quickly regain some control over that 6 o’clock urge?
Be aware of the effects of drip, drip drinking. Whilst a glass or two each night may seem harmless, it all adds up. The charity Drinkaware advise at least a few alcohol-free days a week, so make sure you keep a note and spread out your wine during the week.
Most of us find sticking to water or fruit juice difficult, but luckily there are more and more delicious low alcohol and alcohol-free beverages hitting the market – all aimed at adults. Try a non-alcoholic gin substitute such as Seedlip, CleanGin or Crossip, whose Fresh Citrus is a delicious alternative with its own unique kick of lemongrass and ginger. For some the quinine in tonic is enough of a substitute. Again, there are plenty of flavoured tonics to keep you interested too. Alcohol-free lager and cider is also a great option (and new brewing techniques mean they’re not too sweet or fizzy). Or try substituting your beer with kombucha, or Big Tom, a spicy tomato juice which will help fill you up like beer does! Non-alcoholic cocktails can be a lot more interesting than other substitutes. Virgin strawberry daiquiri anyone? All you need is a little imagination and a bit of pre-planning when you go shopping for the right ingredients.
Remember in the 80s when we all drank out of what now appear to be super-small cut glasses? Glasses have got much bigger – thank you IKEA – so we drink more without noticing. It’s important to shrink your drink where you can. There are 1.4 units in a small (125ml) glass of wine but a whopping 3.5 units in a large (250ml) one. And because most of us don’t measure out our drinks at home, be aware that a standard 750ml bottle of wine contains a total of 10 units. Swapping your bigger glasses for smaller ones may help you cut down easily without really noticing – as long as one glass doesn’t turn in to three to make up! Adding some sparkling water to your wine to make a spritzer will also help reduce the amount of wine you consume over an evening. There are online wine calculators to help you work out how many units you are drinking at what ABV (alcohol by volume), but that’s a bit faffy and it is better to become aware of what you are consuming without having to be told every time.
Instead of your local pub or wine bar, arrange to meet friends in a neighbourhood coffee shop, tearoom, or even consider meeting up for breakfast when the temptation and expectation to drink isn’t nearly as strong.
- Always garnish your drinks. Adding fruit, herbs and/or flowers adds eye-appeal (and flavour).
- Choose fun glasses. Consider investing in traditional barware, such as fun cocktail glasses and more, and use those to serve your drinks to make them seem more special.
- Add a dash of bitters; they will add a subtle finish to your mocktails while keeping them alcohol-free.
- If you’re making a super sweet cocktail, always add a squeeze of lime or lemon for better balance.
- Adding fruit slices and herb sprigs to a simple sparkling water makes for a quick, refreshing drink.