Ocsober – five easy tips to drink less!

We all know that reducing our alcohol consumption is a good thing.  But sometimes, it is easier said than done.  This Ocsober, Rural Doctors Foundation has five great tips to help you drink less.

And the good news is that the benefit of less alcohol can be felt in just a few days. 

A better night sleep.  More energy. Improved concentration. Brighter skin and eyes. Weight loss.  Better gut health. You can also reduce the potential for longer term serious illnesses such as cancer and liver and heart disease.

How much is too much?

You are out having a great night or with your favourite people at home so it can be hard to keep track of how much alcohol you’re putting away.

The Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week.  A standard drink contains about 10 grams of alcohol – the amount your body can process in one hour. You should also limit your drinking to no more than 4 standard drinks per day.  Binge drinking can be as dangerous as long-term drinking.

And, a standard drink is smaller than you may think. Did you know the average glass of wine served in a pub contains 1.5 standard drinks?

How to know if you’re drinking too much

Drinking alcohol is normalised in Australia, particularly in rural towns.  Having a few drinks is just a way of winding down after a long day or to socialise. Some  find it hard to go a day without drinking, or to limit how many drinks. 

Look out for these signs that you may have a problem with alcohol:

·       you are drinking more than recommended in the Australian Guidelines

·       you or others are worried about how much you drink

·       you need to drink more to feel the same effect

·       you crave alcohol

·      alcohol is affecting your physical or mental health

·       you don’t feel in control of your drinking – you can’t cut down or stop even if you want to

·       your drinking is interfering with your relationships, job and family commitments 

·       you experience physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, anxiety or vomiting when you don’t drink.

Five easy tips to help you cut back
1. Catch up for coffee instead or do something active
Try catching up with friends at café for a coffee, tea, or non-alcoholic drink, rather than the pub. You can also catch up over a game of cricket, have a hit of tennis, go for a bushwalk, or visit the beach – get creative!   
2. Look for substitutions

If you want to enjoy a refreshing drink while socialising, opt for one that is non-alcoholic. Have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. Always go for water when you need to quench your thirst. Remember, alcohol dehydrates you. You may also choose a drink with a low alcohol content or dilute spirits with extra mixer and ice.

3. Have alcohol-free days 

Set yourself some alcohol-free days each week. At the start of the week, map out which days’ work best for you, and commit!  Having three alcohol free days per week massively decreases risk of liver cancer.

4. Eat while you drink and sip slowly

Avoid making alcohol the focus of your time with friends and family. Enjoy a meal together rather than just going for a drink.  This will slow your drinking pace.  Sip your drinks slowly. Take time to talk, relax and catch up, and enjoy the company of those you are with.  There is no rush to get back to the bar. 

5. Set yourself a limit  

Before going out, set yourself a limit on the number of standard drinks you’ll have. And remember what a standard drink is!  Once you reach your limit, switch to non-alcoholic drinks.  Make sure your limit is not that high that you forget or get caught up in the alcohol euphoria.