Many of us will have found ourselves staying isolated at home for extended periods of time during the coronavirus outbreak. During lockdown, drinking alcohol might have seemed like a way of relaxing or taking your mind off the constant stream of news about COVID-19 however, it can have an impact on your health and wellbeing. You may now be feeling that you would like to reduce your alcohol intake so here are some tips to help you.
Work out how much you are drinking
It is recommended for both men and women to not regularly drink more than 14 units each week. That’s equivalent to six pints of average strength lager (4% ABV), or six medium glasses of wine (175ml, 12% ABV). Spread your units out over the week and take several drink-free days. Work out your typical daily intake you can work it out with a unit calculator. If you are unsure how much you are drinking, keep a record being as accurate as you can or download a free app from here https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/tools/track-and-calculate-units-app to track your drinking.
Use an alcohol measuring cup – even ordinary food weighing scales will do the trick. You can then be more accurate when you pour alcoholic drinks, and you’ll be able to keep track of how much you’re drinking. Trends in wine glasses can make it hard to judge what’s small, medium or large. Did you know that a 250ml wine measure is actually almost a third of a bottle of wine? An easy way of cutting down is to buy small (125ml) wine glasses for the house, rather than large 250ml ones, and half pint glasses for drinking beer or lager. It’s also a myth that wine doesn’t keep overnight, you just need a good bottle stop!
Drink free days
When you allocate specific days of the week to go drink-free, you’re more likely to stick to it. Challenge yourself to come up with other activities at home instead of drinking alcohol in the evenings or weekends, for example, following an online exercise session, taking a long bath or trying out a new recipe.
Get inventive with alternatives
The trend for ‘NoLo’ (no alcohol or low alcohol drinks) is growing in popularity. There are lots of alcohol-free and lower strength alcohol alternative drinks on supermarket shelves these days. You can find alternative wines, alcohol-free spirit mixers to make cocktails and both alcohol-free and low ABV beers. Try a few and find your favourite, you can read reviews here https://alcoholchange.org.uk/help-and-support/cut-down/low-and-no-alcohol-reviews
Take care of your health and wellbeing
If you are drinking more than 30 units per day, it is very important that you reduce the amount you drink each day at a pace that is manageable for you. This will help prevent uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking anxiety, nausea. If you do experience withdrawal symptoms like these, this means you are cutting down too rapidly. So, slow down the pace at which you are reducing your drinking. If you require support to help you reduce your alcohol intake it is a very good idea to make contact with a support organisation before you start cutting back as their help can be very useful, both while you are in the process of doing it and afterwards. Local support is available, for more information click this link https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/openall/yourhealth/illegaldrugsalcoholandmedication/alcohol/supportandadvice
Rachel Efemey (RD) Information taken from Royal College of Psychiatrists (2020); Drinkaware (2020); Alcohol Change UK (2020)