As the festive season draws near, this time of year brings with it more opportunities to celebrate with loved ones than usual, particularly in a home setting. From visiting neighbours with a bottle of wine as a gift to inviting people over to your house for a mulled wine, alcohol is likely to feature in many of our Christmas social occasions at home. There is usually more of it in the house, we tend to buy more than we would normally, and we have a bit more free time to spend at home. This Christmas, get the facts on the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines and try out some of our tips for more mindful drinking at home.
TIPS FOR DRINKING LESS AT HOME
- Always use a measure for spirits or wine. Never free-pour – this can make it almost impossible to know how much you are drinking. Order one for free
- Alternate each drink with a glass of water to reduce the dehydration associated with alcohol. Keep a jug of water handy to make this easier.
- Stock up on non-alcoholic alternatives for you and your guests. There is now a wide variety of wines, spirits and beers to take advantage of so it’s a good time to make the swap.
- Downsize your drink by serving in a smaller glass. This can make all the difference, especially for wine as we know that these glasses are bigger than ever.
- Avoid topping up glasses. Finish one drink before pouring another, which makes it much easier to track how much you’re really drinking over the course of the night.
- Provide food and snacks for your guests and keep them replenished.
WHAT’S THE ISSUE?
Drinking at home is fast becoming the new norm in Ireland, with the Drinkaware Index 2019 showing that 61% of all weekly drinking occasions now take place at home. This can present its own issues that make it more likely a person will drink more alcohol than intended. For example at our workshops and events, we are hearing from more and more people that it is all to easy to drink a full bottle of wine or six-pack of beer a few times a week, without setting out to or even realising until it’s too late. There are a number of factors at play here – people are comfortable, relaxed and at Christmas, we all feel like celebrating more than usual – but top of list really is free-pouring of spirits and wine.
What this means in practical terms is that there is a higher chance of binge drinking (six or more standard drinks in one sitting e.g three pints of beer) and consuming the low-risk weekly guidelines in a shorter space of time. This increases risks to health and wellbeing including cancer, heart disease and mental health problems.
KNOW YOUR DRINKING
Do you know if you are drinking within the HSE weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines? If not, you’re not alone – just 2% of Irish adults know this information. Remember, these are guidelines – not a target.
- Less than 11 standard drinks (110g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for women, with at least two alcohol-free days
- Less than 17 standard drinks (170g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for men, with at least two alcohol-free days
Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. It takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink but this is only a guide, as there are many different factors that will affect this time.