Ever wondered if you’re drinking too much? Get your guide to a healthier drinking approach, and the best ways to see if the effects of alcohol can impact your health, life, profession or fitness ambitions. The line between moderate and too much drinking can get fussy, so knowing the signs to look out for are key to an overall healthier lifestyle. Can you combine a healthy, active lifestyle with the occasional drink? Sure you can! It’s a personal choice, and something we can balance better.
This post is a follow-on to Part 1: Alcohol and Healthy Living: Drink or Leave it? Read it to know what effect alcohol has short and long-term on body, mind, and well-being.
Healthier Drinking: Alcohol Is A Personal Choice
Whether you choose to drink (or not) is a choice. You may not like the taste, nor the effect alcohol has on your body and mind. If you live in a Northern European country, the fact that you don’t drink can appear just as strange as if you do like a tipple in Northern Africa. No individual is the same, nor cultural setting. Whatever is the choice — the facts and fiction around alcohol and healthier drinking habits are many.
Culture used to drive the perception of what is considered ‘normal’. With more integration and knowledge of what health issues are connected with alcohol, we see many breaking the norm both in traditionally drinking and non-drinking societies, The choice to drink, or leave it, has become more accepted as a personal choice, rather than because of a dependency issue.
Alcohol Is a Health Matter
Let me be very clear here. I have the highest respect for the illness that is alcoholism, and the strength, and struggle it is to stay sober. The reasoning behind this post is that alcohol is a health matter, that we therefore consider with care.
It is not obvious that you might be overdoing your alcohol intake. But – the line between what is considered a moderate amount can become fussy as work, life and profession can have a hand in how much you partake in.
Are you sure that your choice to drink is within safe limits? Check out the 5 signs to look out for.
Healthier Drinking: 5 Signs To Look Out For
Have you ever thought that you might be drinking too much? Alcohol can sneak up on you, and if you read Part 1 of The GOODista series: Alcohol and Healthy Living you know the effect on the body and impact on relationships, social life, and profession.
If any of the signs below apply to you, you will want to continue reading our healthier drinking tips.
- You rarely have just one or two glasses. You tell yourself that you will have a ‘light’ evening, but nevertheless end up have more. You fit into the category of binge drinkers without realizing. “So how much alcohol means you’re overdoing it? For women, binge drinking means having four or more drinks in a short period of time, compared to five or more for men.” (prevention.com)
- You think you’re fine as you can handle work and home life, and don’t have a drink every night. However, You do down a few glasses of prosecco, and a bottle of wine on the weekend. It might surprise you to learn that you surpass the recommended weekly units of alcohol.
- If friends or family express concern you will need to think. Have you also noticed that people seem to talk about your drinking habits, and comment on your social media pages? While the ‘teasing’ might seem innocent enough, a reputation is on the way. Maybe you can handle your friends — but, what happens when school teachers, co-workers or bosses see your Facebook posts? Ask yourself if your drinking is moving from social to problem drinking?
- You drink to keep company with someone else – even when you don’t feel like a glass you feel you must. This can be for a small dinner at home, or for a social or professional engagement. Your intake is not guided what you have chosen but by a sense of obligation which leads to a far higher weekly consumption than what is considered healthy.
- You cannot remember last time you had a day without alcohol. Do you have at least one alcoholic beverage every day – whether you are in company or not?Are you telling yourself that you drink moderately, but confess that it has become a bit more ‘just recently’? Are you in denial?
What Is Your Choice?
To drink or not is a personal choice, and you can well enjoy all the pleasures of a good meal, social events and ‘life’ without it. I believe each one of us has to look at our own situation and health — then decide. Not to judge what other people do – or don’t – but to be honest enough with oneself, and then take steps accordingly. Alcohol in itself has a scientific effect on the body, but the impact on an individual can vary greatly. For more on addiction awareness and treatment read here.
Healthier Drinking: The Choice To Not Drink
My decision to not drink wasn’t really a decision. It just happened as I took charge of my lifestyle. With increasing fitness, a drink would have interfered with my workouts, and knowledge of how certain foods and drinks interacted with my body – the choice to eat and drink only what my body asked me for was easy.
Many of my friends assumed that not drinking would be the hardest part of my new lifestyle. It amazes me how alcohol is so culturally ingrained, that it is viewed as almost suspicious when you choose not too.
The mere smell of beer, wine and spirits make me feel queasy now. Social occasions are rather amusing as I observe how conversations get louder, the color of the cheeks brighter, and how emotional reactions get overly turned up (or down). I don’t sit on some high moral horse about alcohol, as my lifestyle change is my choice. I am however quite happy to avoid being hung-over or suffer any post-party embarrassments.
Tip: Do you want inspiration to lifestyle changes you can do?
Healthier Drinking Tips
You may not at all be ready to give up alcohol for good. You don’t have to. While alcohol and healthy living isn’t necessarily a contradiction in terms — there is something to be said for the choices we make. If any of the signs above talk to you, consider making a few adjustments. Here are some tips:
- Celebrate and Enjoy: Break the daily habit. Do have a glass to celebrate, and really enjoy that special occasion.
- Quality over Quantity: Enjoy a superb glass of (organic) wine, and make sure you choose quality over quantity. Match it with what you eat, and appreciate the taste enhancing qualities. Don’t go for what Brits call ‘plonk’ – also appropriately called ‘red scream’ (loosely translated from Swedish). Get into good wines and beer. For wine tips: Maker’s Table. Beer: Great Swedish blog about beer: Beerbro Blog
- The Cocktail of ‘Dreams’: One sure way for your body to throw more tantrums is if you mix sugar, speed, and alcohol. Cocktails, Alco-pops and Red Bull are great examples of how to feel really ill.
- Walk Into Healthy Habits: Start your evening with a walk, rather than that routine glass of something. Change habits and get some oxygen, exercise and added feel-good endorphins.
- Drink Water Sip Wine: One glass of alcoholic beverage and one glass of water. Start and finish with water, and balance through out. Drink water to quench the thirst and sip wine/beer for the taste.
- Table Setting: Traditionally the way to set a table is to place the wine/beer glass front and centre. Shift places. Make the water-glass stand out. Change the size too, as most water glasses wouldn’t quench the thirst of a kitten. Large water-glass and a smaller one for wine. Same principal as when we are portion controlling for food with smaller plates.
- Avoid the Colour Wheel: Don’t make the body work harder, so stick to one type of alcohol. The classic combo for feeling worse is having a beer, then wine, then spirits!
- Drink Socially: Skip the lonely drink. The lonely drink is not a happy one, and can lead you down a sad path. Enjoy an evening with friends, and do just that. Skip the regrets, and be merry 🙂 Read: The Myth of Moderation on Forbes.com
- Alcohol Free Alternatives: The obvious healthier drinking is to enjoy the many alcohol free alternatives. Flavour your water with lemon, cucumber, water melon, strawberries… Your body will thank you!
- Take a Break: That you must drink to have fun is a myth. To ‘just’ have water isn’t as bad as you might imagine (believe me :)!) Give yourself a few nights a week off from alcohol.
- Go White: A white month is what Northern Europeans refer to when they stay clear of alcohol for a given month. Try it. You will have a natural detox process, and you might find that those extra kilo you couldn’t shift will go by themselves. You will also reap the benefits of real, good sleep, extra energy and glowing skin.
Healthy Drinking: A Contradiction In Terms?
While alcohol and healthy living isn’t necessarily a contradiction in terms – there is something to be said for how we are responsible for the choices we make.
While drinking is a personal choice, some employers are more strict about employees leisure drinking. Why is that? Jobs with high levels of stress are more likely to be vulnerable to abuse of alcohol. Whether you are a pilot or a doctor — stress is part of your job. Why are there alcohol limits set for pilots, and just guidelines for doctors? In Part 3 of this series, we look in detail what rules apply for aviation, medical staff, professional drivers and military. And – look at jobs where alcohol is very much present such as in the Food and Beverage industry. We explore how you too can find your way to a healthy lifestyle and healthier drinking habits. Subscribe to get the updates in your inbox.
To shift from a habit to a new challenge can be daunting. To conquer doubts about whether you’re walking a fine line means that you need to think through how you go about your daily life and habits.
Making adjustments to how you exercise, eat and drink means taking charge. When you take charge you take back control. Small steps to healthier ways isn’t about making huge changes, but rather about focusing on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.
A new take will reap rewards – for you and those around you. You will feel full of wellness and energy, and if you celebrate that with the occasional glass of something? Cheers! That’s your choice – so stick to it! 🙂
If you want inspiration to lifestyle changes you can do – every day and working away – follow The GOODista. Sign up to Feel, Be and Do Good!
Recommended and Related:
- Balancing Risks and Benefits of Alcohol – Harvard Health
- Alcohol Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Help – helpguide.org
- Social Drinking Defined – alcoholrehab.com
- 13 Biggest Myths About Alcohol Busted – Greatist
- Awareness and Treatment website – detox.com
What’s Your Take On Healthier Drinking? Comment:
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