The end of the year is a time when many people overindulge when it comes to alcohol. While a glass of two is fine for most people, having a few too many isn’t good for our health or waistlines.
In the short-term, excess alcohol can cause headaches, nausea and dehydration and can increase the risk of accidents or injury. If you regularly drink too much, it can increase your risk of liver damage and many types of cancer. Drinking alcohol can also increase your appetite and make you less likely to make healthy food choices. The combination of alcohol and fatty foods can be a major contributor to festive weight gain. Finally, alcohol can affect the action of some prescription medications, so if you take these, speak to your doctor about drinking safely.
So what can you do to still enjoy yourself without the negative effects of too much celebratory cheer?
- Set yourself a limit and stick to it.
- Make sure you head out well hydrated – you’ll drink more and faster if you’re thirsty.
- Start with a non-alcoholic drink and alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Plain mineral or soda water with a squeeze of lemon or lime are good alternatives.
- Drink slowly and have one drink at a time. If your glass is constantly being topped up it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’ve had.
- Eat before or while you’re drinking as alcohol is absorbed more slowly with food in your stomach. But avoid too many salty snacks which can leave you thirsty and wanting to drink more.
- Avoid ‘shouts’ which can encourage you to you drink more than if you were going at your own pace. If you can’t avoid this, buy yourself a non-alcoholic drink when it’s your turn.
- Remember parties don’t have to be all about eating and drinking. Strike up a conversation with someone new, get up on the dance floor or offer to help the host – if you’re busy and enjoying yourself in other ways, you’ll be less likely to overindulge!
- If you have lots of social events over the holiday period, keep your days at home in between alcohol-free.
For more information speak with your GP or consult the Australian Alcohol Guidelines on the following websites (includes information on reducing your health risks when drinking and a guide to standard drink sizes):