There’s lots of ways to drink less
Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, but there are loads of things you can try to drink less.
We’ve split our tips and tricks into groups based on the different ways that people drink. This should make it easier to find something that works for you.
So whether you’d rather change what you drink, cut back the amount you drink, or change when, where or why you drink, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Choose a category from the sidebar to see some handy tips.
Try changing what you drink
These tips are simple, doable ways to make small changes to what you’re drinking that can help you drink less.
Swap to a lower strength to cut your calories
A simple way to reduce the amount of alcohol and calories you’re drinking is to swap strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength. The strength can be seen on the side of cans/bottles as a percentage (ABV – Alcohol by volume). A 1% difference may not sound like much but it adds up over a few drinks.
Dilute your drinks
A popular way to drink less is to have a wine spritzer using soda water or a shandy instead of a pint (make sure to ask for low-sugar lemonade in your shandy!). This will not only help you cut back on how much you are drinking but your calories too.
Red wine does more harm than good
Although media stories that red wine is good for you are very popular, the catchy headlines can be misleading. Many of the studies quoted in these stories have limitations or flaws that cast doubt on their findings. Alcohol should not be promoted as a way to improve health. There is no safe drinking level, and regularly drinking too much increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, liver disease and some cancers. The way to enjoy a longer healthier life is to drink less alcohol, eat a healthier diet, exercise more, and quit smoking.
Alcohol-free drinks have come a long way!
Times have changed. These days if you don’t fancy a beer or a wine, there’s loads of things you can have without feeling out of place. There’s all sorts of fabulously fruity mocktails, smoothies, alcohol-free lagers and refreshing soft drinks to try. And most bars serve hot drinks now too.
Try changing when you drink
The times you drink can have a big effect on how much alcohol you drink. Changing how you drink at different times is a great way to start drinking less.
Try drink free days
You could try taking some time off from alcohol or choosing not to drink for a couple of days each week to give your body a break and help it to ‘reset’.
Dinner only drinking
A simple way to drink less and cut back on the calories is to wait until you eat before having a drink. Drinking with food slows down how fast you drink, as well as the rate that your body absorbs alcohol. If you stop drinking when you finish eating you give your body more time to process the alcohol before you go to bed which means you’ll also get a better night’s sleep!
Find a way to relax that doesn’t involve having a drink
We all need ways to unwind from our busy lives. Drinking alcohol may make you feel relaxed at the time but can make you feel worse afterwards. Simple activities like doing some exercise, reading, playing music, having a bath, cooking something new or making time for a hobby can all help you wind down. Find what works for you.
Eat before you go out
Eating a meal before you start drinking helps slow down how quickly your body absorbs alcohol. This helps you stay in control and less likely to crave junk later in the night.
Don’t spoil your night before it even begins
Merseyside Police are working with bars to make sure that anyone who is clearly drunk doesn’t get served alcohol. Make sure your night doesn’t get cut short by drinking less before you go out or waiting until you go out to have a drink. Find out more at www.drinklessenjoymore.co.uk
Give yourself an excuse to drink less
Special occasions like birthdays, weddings and christenings are happy times when it’s easy to get carried away, but giving yourself an excuse to drink less or leave early can help. Some good ways to do this include offering to be the designated driver or arranging something important for the following morning.
Delay your first drink
A lot of people don’t think about how long they actually spend drinking. One way to drink less is to put off having your first drink until later. For example if you wait until 7 or 8 o’clock to take your first drink rather than starting at 5 o’clock, you are likely to drink less.
Look for other ways to spend quality time with your friends and family
Liverpool is a vibrant city with a fantastic selection of things to do, places to explore and exciting events that can take the focus away from alcohol. Next time you’re planning to spend time with family and friends, check out www.visitliverpool.com for inspiration.
Try changing how much you drink
These tips are usually people’s favourite way to drink less because you don’t need to change what you’re doing too much.
Swapping to a small glass makes a big difference
Switching to a small glass can really help you start drinking less as well as cutting your calories in half. Making your wine a spritzer with soda water can help too.
Try small bottles of wine
An easy way to start drinking less is buying smaller bottles of wine. When you buy a full-size bottle of wine, there is always a temptation to finish the bottle. There is a much bigger selection of single serve bottles of wine nowadays which will help you keep a closer tab on what you are drinking without feeling like you’re missing out.
Keep wine for longer
Why not save some wine until tomorrow? Most wine keeps for a couple of days if you use a bottle stop.
Keep an eye on home measures
It’s easy for a single to become a triple if you’re not paying attention. Try and make sure that you, your partner and friends are keeping an eye on how much is being poured into each drink. Buying yourself a drinks measure is also a great way to keep your measures under control.
Can you have one less?
Each time you have a drink, ask yourself “Can I have one less?”
Less alcohol = less calories
It’s shocking to see how many calories are hidden in alcohol. Cutting out a drink here and there can really reduce calories and help you lose weight. For every large glass of wine you don’t drink, you’ll save 235 calories. For every pint, you’ll save 180 calories. Avoiding spirits and mixers can save you lots of calories too.
Try not to drink out of habit
Think about whether you ever automatically drink out of routine (after a long day, for example). These are the drinks that you may hardly be aware of that can make the amount that you drink over a week creep up. Some people find it helpful to identify these occasions and think what they could do to break these habits and change their routine.
Drinking less gives you more energy
Drinking too much can make you feel tired, sluggish and generally a bit under the weather. Drink less and it shouldn’t take too long before you notice that you have more energy.
Steer clear of rounds
Think of a good reason for avoiding rounds, and let your friends know before you start drinking. For example – you’re losing weight, you’re saving up, or you have something important to do in the morning. Another popular idea is only taking a limited amount of money (and no bank cards) out with you. If you don’t want to drink at all, you could offer to be the designated driver. This will help you stay in control of how much you’re drinking.
Try changing where you drink
Whether you’re at home, in a bar or round at a friend’s house, the places we drink can affect the amount we have. The following tips should help you drink less wherever you are.
Keep less alcohol in the house
If your house is always stocked up with alcohol you’re more likely to drink it. Try buying less alcohol when you do the shopping to help avoid temptation. At the very least hide alcohol in a cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind.
Keep yourself busy between drinks
If you’re having a night out, don’t just stand at the bar, have a dance, play some pool or plan to go out on a quiz night. This way you’ll have a laugh and end up drinking less.
Try changing why you drink
If you tend to drink because of things like stress, boredom and tiredness, this can actually make it worse. Starting to drink less is often a much better way of dealing with these problems and can make you feel good.
Find other ways to relax and ease stress
Drinking regularly can make you feel down or even lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, which make stress harder to deal with. This is because regular drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health. It’s better to find out what’s making you feel stressed and looking for ways to deal with it. If stress can’t be avoided, look for other ways to manage it better. Exercise can help. So can talking things through with someone and making sure you spend time doing things that you enjoy. For more ideas visit the ‘Other ways to relax’ section of our website.
Drinking to boost your confidence can backfire
Alcohol suppresses the parts of the brain which control inhibition, so a drink or two may make you feel more confident when out socialising. But these pleasant effects wear off fast and as you drink more, more parts of the brain are affected. Alcohol may also make you angry, aggressive, anxious or down. You may do or say things that you wouldn’t when you’re sober, and which you regret the next day.
If you would like information about how to build your confidence and help you relax in social situations, without the need to drink, there is a wide range of useful resources on NHS Choices. See www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Mentalhealthhome.aspx
Try not to drink out of habit
Think about whether you ever automatically drink out of routine (after a long day, for example). These are the drinks that you may hardly be aware of that can make the amount that you drink over a week creep up. Some people find it helpful to identify these occasions and what they could do to break these habits and change their routine.
Drinking less can help you sleep
To help you sleep better try to stop drinking earlier before bedtime. This will give your body time to process the alcohol you’ve drunk. On average it takes two hours to process a glass of wine or pint of beer. For more advice to help you sleep visit https://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/sleep/Pages/sleep-home.aspx
Cutting down alcohol may help lift your mood
If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally. Making changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation, talking about your problems or getting more sleep can usually help improve your mood.
If negative feelings don’t go away, are too much to cope with, or stopping you from carrying on with your normal life, you may need to make some changes and get some extra support. Talk to your GP or call NHS 111.
Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/feel-better-and-happy/ for more information.
Keep boredom at bay
If you find yourself drinking to pass the time, finding other ways to keep yourself busy can help you drink less and feel good. Try learning a new skill or take on a new challenge. Spend time with family, friends or neighbours. Be more physically active. Walking is a great place to start, and by exploring your local area you may find new things to do. Doing something for someone else can also pass the time as well as making you feel good. For more ideas visit www.thelivewelldirectory.com
If you start drinking less you should quickly start to see the money you’re saving pile up. Keep this money in a safe place and use it as additional motivation. The less you drink the more you’ll save!
Fact or fiction?
With all the rumours and hearsay about drinking alcohol, it can be easy to get confused about what advice you should follow. To help clear things up a little bit, we’ve pulled together the truth behind some of the most popular myths. Knowing these facts can help you make healthier choices.
“Wine goes bad overnight”
If you find yourself finishing a bottle of wine because you’re worried it won’t taste nice the next day – you don’t have to. Some people believe that wine doesn’t keep, but the truth is most wines last for a couple of days if you use a bottle stop.
“Wine and beer are safer than spirits”
It can be surprising to find out after years of drinking, but it doesn’t matter whether you drink beers, wines or spirits they can all contain the same amount of alcohol, depending on the drink size and strength. All alcoholic drinks cause the same problems.
“Red wine is good for you”
Although media stories that red wine is good for you are very popular, the catchy headlines can be misleading. Many of the studies quoted in these stories have limitations or flaws that cast doubt on their findings. Alcohol including red wine should not be promoted as a way to improve health. The way to enjoy a longer, healthier life is to drink less alcohol, eat a healthier diet, exercise more and quit smoking.
“Guinness is healthy because it boosts your iron levels.”
Regularly drinking any type of alcohol isn’t considered good for your health. Luckily, there are lots of safer, healthier ways to increase your iron levels without drinking alcohol. Try eating things such as spinach or other leafy green vegetables. Lentils, kidney beans and dried fruit are also great sources of iron.
How alcohol affects your body and mind
Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
Drinking too much on a regular basis increases your chance of having high blood pressure, which is one of the most likely things to cause a heart attack or a stroke. It can also weaken your heart muscles, which means that your heart can’t pump blood as well, which can lead to heart failure.
Increased risk of liver disease
Your liver is responsible for all sorts of important jobs in the body, including breaking down food into energy, fighting infections and helping your body get rid of waste. It’s important to look after your liver as you can’t always tell your liver is damaged until you’ve developed serious health issues.
Drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis can cause liver disease. When the liver tries to break down alcohol, it can cause stress and damage which leads to inflammation. Alcohol can also damage your intestines, which allows toxins to enter your liver which can then lead to inflammation. The more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to develop liver disease.
Increased risk of cancer
The longer term effects of alcohol can include an increased risk of cancers, specifically bowel, breast, mouth, throat and pancreatic cancer.
Anxiety and depression
Drinking regularly can make you feel down or even lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, which make stress harder to deal with. This is because regular drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.
Alcohol irritates your digestive system
Even drinking a little bit of alcohol makes your stomach produce more acid than usual, which can cause inflammation of the stomach lining (known as gastritis). This triggers stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and even bleeding in heavy drinkers.
Drinking too much alcohol for a long period of time can change the way the brain works. This can lead to serious issues such as problems with memory, thinking, mood, learning and even changing someone’s personality.
Alcohol can make you gain weight and look older
Every time you drink alcohol it dehydrates your body and your skin. Drinking too much can deprive your skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Over time, this can lead to your face looking bloated and puffy – as well as your stomach. It is thought that the toxins in alcohol help the build up of cellulite.
Drinking alcohol can cause digestive problems like acid reflux, which is a condition where stomach acid burns your throat.
Alcohol can also lead to the development of a peptic ulcer. This is an unpleasant, painful, open sore in your stomach lining. Not only this, but drinking can also make it more difficult to digest food and absorb vital nutrients, particularly proteins and vitamins.
© Drink Less Feel Good 2019