9 smart ways to keep your drinking in check

Physical healthArticleOctober 29, 2020

It might be tempting to drink your worries away. Read on for some tips to enjoy a drink or two without dialing up the health risks.

Share this

By Kate Cross

Under the right conditions, drinking can be enjoyable. They don’t call it ‘Happy Hour’ for nothing, after all. But, being a drug, alcohol can also be a regrettable and even dangerous indulgence in excess. So, here are some ways to enjoy a drink, or two, without dialing up the health risks …

  1. Plan your commute – If you’re heading out, plan your transport before you go, suggests Steve Allsop*, Professor at Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute.
  2. Set a limit – “Decide how much you’ll drink before[hand],” suggests Professor Allsop. Whatever limit you set, just ensure you “practice moderation” and be mindful, adds dietitian Jason Ewoldt in a piece for Mayo Clinic.
  3. Prep your stomach – According to the Better Health Channel, “a full stomach slows the absorption of alcohol”. Just mind the munchies when you are drinking. Writes Ewoldt: “Alcohol may increase appetite and lead to eating more.” For this reason, he suggests planning for healthy snacks.
  4. Sip slowly – Also “put down the glass after each mouthful”, suggests the Better Health Channel.
  5. Manage top-ups – “Don’t let the waiter or your friend top up your glass before you’ve finished your drink as it makes it hard to keep track,” says Professor Allsop.
  6. Hydrate the healthy way – Space out your drinks with water to quench thirst and slow down your alcohol intake, suggests Ewoldt.
  7. Avoid boredom – If you keep yourself busy by, for example, dancing or playing pool, you’re likely to consume less, states the Better Health Channel.
  8. Listen to others – “Don’t rely solely on your own judgement because alcohol affects your judgement. If someone says you’re being too loud, it might be a hint you’ve had too much to drink,” says Professor Allsop.
  9. Think of the bigger picture – Italian alcohol researcher Dr Simona Costanzo^ says “moderate drinking should preferably occur in the context of an otherwise healthy lifestyle and at appropriate occasions, such as with meals but only after completion of activities that require concentration, skill or coordination”.

Remember, the less you drink, the lower your health risk, and for some, the best option is to abstain altogether. If you’re having trouble keeping your alcohol intake under control, consider speaking with an appropriate health professional.

* Interview with Steve Allsop, Professor and Director of the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University, 18 January 2016

^ Interview with Simona Costanzo MS, PhD, Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, IRCCS Neuromed, 30 September 2019