New safe drinking guidelines – scaring you into compliance?

The government’s new safe alcohol limits guidelines published this week suggest a weekly limit of 14 units of alcohol, (7 x 175ml glasses of wine or 6 pints of beer) the same for men as women. Previously, men were ‘allowed’ up to 21 units a week. It is also suggested that we take 2 -3 days a week off alcohol, so that addiction is avoided, and to help keep the weekly total down.

The new information on mouth, throat and breast cancer and it’s relation to drinking alcohol is a little scary and has made me and my husband think carefully about how much we drink. We are not heavy drinkers by any stretch, but we do have a small drink on most days of the week (Ok, OK…every day) but the amount is between 125 ml and 175ml, and definitely not more. It’s the same on weekends, so we are pretty even keel. So, we would be within the 14 units maximum band, but I think we should probably have 2 days off per week (let’s start with one!), to minimise our risks of cancer. Consensus is that only after age 55 are there any positive outcomes from drinking a little red wine, and only in women – ages away for me!!

How easy would it be for you to cut down on your alcohol consumption and how would you do it?

The old tricks of using a smaller glass, having your first (and only?) glass later in the evening, drinking more water instead of wine and avoiding binges are all helpful. Get a ‘vac-u-vin’ wine stopper so that you can keep the wine fresh, let people know you are trying to drink less so that they can support you instead of encouraging drinking. Make a consistent effort in the first week of making a change (no exceptions, stick to your rules); this will help set new behaviours and promote persistence later. If you haven’t tried noting what time you usually have a first drink, try it tonight (when do you FEEL like having a drink) and aim to wait an hour by having a cup of tea instead and see how you get on. Stick to the new time for a week, and it may feel normal, then if necessary, go for an earlier time the following week.

If you have any other techniques for reducing alcohol intake, let us know and we can share your ideas.

Happy New (moderate) Year!

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