WITH Christmas parties in full swing, it can be easy to get caught up in the festivities.
But doctors say it’s important not to put our health on the back burner at this time of year.
Dr Dawn Richards, GP for Vitality Health Insurance, said: “Drinking lots of alcohol on a regular basis can lead to serious health conditions like liver disease and liver cancer, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke.
“As we head into the celebratory festive period, risks of binge drinking are higher than usual. Whilst you can still have a good time and enjoy a drink or two, it’s important to put your health first and consider the amount of alcohol that you’re consuming.”
Here, she shares her top tips for enjoying the festivities, while staying on top of your health:
Stick to your units
Really try to stick to this NHS recommended 14 units per-week as much as you can.
Regularly drinking more than 14 units a week could result in long-term illness such as high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and liver cancer2 and evidence shows that it can also have a significant impact on mental health. It’s easy to measure out the units of your favourite festive tipple and stick to it.
Have a lower-strength drink or make it a smaller one
Cut down on alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength Alcohol By Volume % (ABV).
This is used to measure the alcohol content in the drink. You can usually find this information on the bottle.
You can still enjoy a drink, but why not go for a smaller size at your Christmas party? Try bottled beer instead of pints or opt for a small (125ml) glass of wine rather than the large 250ml.
Order a festive mocktail at your Christmas party
If you’re heading out to bars or clubs for your Christmas party, they will likely offer a mocktail menu alongside alcoholic drinks.
If they don’t, try ordering a ‘virgin’ version of your favourite cocktail from the bartender without alcohol.
You don’t have to order one every time but try swapping out an alcohol drink for a mocktail for some rounds.
Practice mindful drinking in December
Mindful drinking involves focusing on what and how much you’re drinking to help stay in control of your intake.
This method can really help you to reap the rewards of cutting down on alcohol.
To start drinking more mindfully, begin by thinking about your reasons for doing it – do you want fewer hangovers, or to feel more in control at social occasions?
Then decide on the right approach for you, that could be anything from going sober for a set period of time, resetting your drinking habits or stopping drinking at home or during certain days of the week.
Decide what’s right for you based on what you want to achieve and go from there.
Enjoy a few booze-free days in the lead up to your Christmas party
I’d recommend 2-3 consecutive alcohol-free days around Christmas time as this helps your system recover and can reset your tolerance, too.
A simple ruling can make it easier to stick to – for example, ‘Tuesdays to Thursdays I don’t drink.’
Another option is to try the free Drink Aware app, which allows you to track how much alcohol you have on a daily basis and rewards you for achieving targets like building up ‘no drinking’ days.
Why not introduce some alcohol-free Christmas traditions amongst your friends and family, like going for a festive walk rather than a trip to the pub.