Think of alcohol like scoring a game

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When you go out for drinks think of it like scoring a game – this was a great analogy I heard from Tom Kerridge. When everyone is ordering drinks and you’re either nominated driver or you’re trying to reduce your alcohol intake you may feel like you’re at a bit of a disadvantage – you may feel like you’re 0-1 down. As the evening progresses and friends start to have a few more drinks they may “relax” just a little too much – say things they don’t mean etc.. so the score starts to level up 1-1. Now here comes the bit where you win. The next morning they wake feeling a bit groggy, not great night sleep, perhaps a bit nauseous or a headache and not ready for the day ahead. You on the other hand are now 2-1 up – you’ve had a restorative night sleep, eaten well for breakfast, have a clearer head, and you’ve more energy.

Whether you’ve given up alcohol for a month or you’ve cut down how much you’re drinking, it’s natural to lose some motivation along the way so I hope the above idea helps to motivate you if you start to lose heart a bit.

Here’s some more tips to keep you motivated:

In a study involving 800 people who did dry January: 88% saved money, 71% had better quality of sleep, 67% had more energy, and 58% improved weight. Other factors also improved: lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of type 2 Diabetes, and reduced LDL cholesterol.

How much is too much?

Government guidelines are 2-3 units for women, and 3-4 units for men per day, but what does that actually look like?

Units

Glasses (Men)

Glasses (Women)

1 pint beer

2.3

1.5

1

1 pint cider

2.6

1.5

1

1 glass champagne

2.1

2

1

Small glass red wine (125ml)

1.6

2

2

Small glass white wine (125ml)

1.6

2

2

Standard glass red wine (175ml)

2.3

1.5

1

Standard glass white wine (175ml)

2.3

1.5

1

Large glass red wine (250ml)

3.3

1

1

Large glass white wine (250ml)

3.3

1

1

Bottle red

9.8

Bottle white

9.8

Light spirit + mixer

0.9

3

2

Dark spirit + mixer

1

3

2

Alcopop

1.1

3

2

 

Effect on performance

Is your healthier lifestyle counteracted by alcohol? Alcohol is a diuretic which may lead to dehydration. Also the liver isn’t as efficient at making glucose if it’s busy breaking down alcohol so you may experience a drop in blood sugar and energy. Sleep quality is reduced so recovery from sports or exercise is impeded.

Effect on skin

In the Winter months you may think you look a little pale, tired, grey? Alcohol dehydrates the skin leading to a more tired and dry looking complexion. Acne rosacea (reddening of skin around the central areas of the face becoming red and bumpy) is exacerbated by alcohol too.

Effect on fertility

There’s no recommended safe amount to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect baby’s brain development and increase risk of miscarriage. Baby’s features are formed in weeks 6-9 of pregnancy and alcohol during this time may cause malformations. Women who drink more than 6 units per week were 18% less likely to conceive, and men 14% less likely (lowered testosterone).

Effect on the brain

Alcohol promotes the release of GABA (relaxing neurotransmitter) hence why you may feel more relaxed from the first drink, however for many people more than one drink reduces serotonin (feel good hormone) and can lead to feeling depressed. In excess alcohol affects part of the sleep cycle involved in memory so memory function may not be as great.

Love your liver

The liver is an amazing organ which is involved in so many biological processes – one of which is detoxification. Alcohol puts extra strain on the liver preventing it from doing all its other jobs so well. Reducing alcohol consumption, unnecessary caffeine, and excessive saturated fats can all help to reduce the load on the liver. A drink of hot water and lemon before food or drinks in the morning can also help to flush out any toxins and gets your bowels moving at the start of the day. Adding some more vegetables or fruit in your day to improve fibre – whether this be eating the vegetable/fruit itself or adding it to a smoothie you make (recipe for smoothie). A B-vitamin complex supplement may also help to boost your energy and liver function.

Helpful general tips

  • Mydrinkaware app
  • Alternate alcoholic with soft drinks
  • Drink only with food
  • Set non-alcohol days (Mon-Thu)
  • Avoid drinking in rounds

Alcohol alternatives

Spirit Beer Wine Cider
Seedlip Big Easy (pale ale) Fre Merlot (red) Sheppy’s Classic Low Alcohol
Gordons Ultra Low G&T Infinite Session (pale ale) Rawsons Retreat (red) Stowford Press
Tesco Low Alcohol G&T Old Speckled Hen Low Alcohol Moscato (white) Kopparberg Alcohol-free Mixed Fruit
Teetotal GnT Guinness Malts Fre Chardonnay Celtic Marches Holly GoLightly
Three Spirit Jupiler (lager) Benjamin Truffer’s Sparkling Muscato Smashed Apple
Ginish Free Damm (lager) Echo Falls Infusion Hogan’s High Sobriety
Rumish Zest Zero Lemon (fruit beer) Bees Knees Rose Waitrose Low-alcohol Cider

 

Here’s some links to other helpful resources to get you started or keep you motivated:

 

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