The festive period is famously a time of overindulgence and celebrations. Between Christmas dinners and New Year’s Eve parties, the temptation to consume large amounts of alcohol is high.
We go into more detail below, but here’s a quick summary of our top tips for managing your alcohol intake:
- Set a goal before you go out for the night: For example, I’ll drive instead of drinking.
- Have a balanced, filling meal before a night out: This will reduce the rate at which alcohol is absorbed by the body.
- Opt for long drinks: The alcohol is less concentrated and will last longer.
- Stay hydrated: Drink a glass of water or a soft drink between alcoholic ones.
- Know your triggers: What situations could you potentially avoid or change the environment?
- Experiment with non-alcoholic drinks: Click here to try our two mocktail recipes.
Of course, relaxing and enjoying your time with your loved ones during the festive season is essential. However, keeping tabs on the amount of alcohol we’re drinking can be challenging, and excessive binge drinking poses potential health risks.
Drinking alcohol can, directly and indirectly, affect our weight, particularly if our alcohol consumption is very high and we don’t have any alcohol-free days this time of year.
Besides the excess energy that alcohol provides, research suggests that once we reach our ‘tipping point’, our inhibitions are significantly lowered, resulting in increased energy intake in the following 48 hours.
Alcohol can also impact our mental health. Many people might have experienced the feeling of ‘hangxiety’; we often feel anxious or have a low mood after a night of heavy alcohol use. Do this too often, and it might start to have an impact on how you feel in the long term.
If you’d like to learn more about the drinking guidelines from the Chief Medical Officers in the NHS, click here.
So, how do you keep on track with your health goals and still have a good time over the Christmas period? We’ve compiled our top tips below:
1) Set a goal before you go out for the night
You may decide to drink less alcohol and only have a certain number of drinks, stop drinking at a particular time, or stick to non-alcoholic drinks. Whichever you go for, set a limit and try to keep to this.
This might be to only have one glass of wine at your work Christmas party, or if you’re choosing to avoid alcohol, why not put your hand up to be the designated driver?
2) Have a balanced, filling meal before you go out
This will help prevent you from picking at the roaming canapes or making poor food choices later in the evening after a few drinks.
For inspiration on a balanced meal, click here for our NHS-trusted meal plan.
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3) Opt for long drinks
This means the alcohol is less concentrated, and your drink will last longer. For example, a small white wine and soda water spritzer or a single vodka and soda in a tall glass with some lime.
4) Keep hydrated
We know alcohol dehydrates the body, so we often feel sluggish and headachy the day after a few drinks.
Having a glass of water, soda water, or other soft drinks between each alcoholic drink can help your body stay hydrated and reduce the risk of (or the severity of!) a hangover the next day.
5) Know your triggers
If you’re trying to watch your alcohol intake throughout December, know which situations you find difficult to avoid temptation. Rather than catching up with friends at the pub, perhaps you could suggest an evening at the cinema or a trip to the local Christmas markets instead.
6) Experiment with non-alcoholic cocktails
If you’re hosting a party, consider making some non-alcoholic cocktails that are lower in sugar for your guests. They’re just as delicious, minus the additional calories from alcohol.
You can try some of our Second Nature-friendly mocktails below:
Warm ginger pear mocktail with vanilla bean
- 2 ripe pears, cored and chopped
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 fresh or dried vanilla bean
- 350ml water
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Blend pears, ginger, vanilla bean and water in a food processor until you have a smooth puree.
- Place a strainer over a saucepan and pour the pear puree into the strainer. Push the puree through the strainer until all the juice is in the saucepan.
- Gently heat the liquid over a medium-low heat.
- Once warmed, stir through the lemon juice and serve.
Blueberry and mint mocktail
- 2 cups (300g) of frozen or fresh berries
- 1 bunch of mint, plus additional to serve
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cups of ice, plus additional to serve
- Sparkling water to serve
- Combine berries, mint, lemon juice and crushed ice in a food processor.
- To serve, place ice cubes and a sprig of mint in a glass. Pour over the berry mixture and top with sparkling water.