Rethinking Drinking

This month is Dry July, an initiative which encourages individuals to abstain from drinking alcohol for a month, raising sponsorship funds to benefit the lives of those living with cancer. According to organisers, by taking part in Dry July, you can help to ease the burden, reduce stress and add a bit of comfort for those affected by cancer while also taking notice of your own drinking habits and the value of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

While having a few drinks isn’t a problem for most people, drinking to excess can have many negative consequences.  Apart from the obvious side effects (headache, nausea and dehydration) drinking too much can:

  • Reduce your resolve about making healthy food choices – and the combination of alcohol and fatty foods will quickly lead to weight gain if this is a regular occurrence
  • Cause harmful interactions with some prescription medications
  • Increase the risk of accidents or injury
  • Increase your risk of liver damage and many types of cancer if a regular habit

The key to avoiding these problems, of course, is to drink only in moderation.  According to the Australian Alcohol guidelines, this means no more than 2 standard drinks per day for healthy men and women, with at least 1-2 alcohol-free days each week.  If you have an existing medical condition or are taking any medications, it may be a good idea to further limit your alcohol intake.  Alcohol should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Why not join other Australians and do something positive for your own well-being and for others? For more details and to register, visit www.dryjuly.com

Not ready to give up completely?  Here are 7 tips to help avoid overindulging:

  • Have a non-alcoholic drink first – you will drink much faster if you are thirsty.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks – try mineral or soda water with a squeeze of lemon or lime or a sprig of mint.  Want something more interesting? Check out some of the Dry July Mocktail ideas.
  • Eat before or while you are drinking. Eating slows your drinking pace and fills you up – alcohol is also absorbed more slowly with food in your stomach.
  • Avoid salty snacks like chips or salted nuts which make you thirsty, and in turn make you drink more.
  • Avoid ‘shouts’ – drink at your own pace, not someone else’s. If you can’t avoid being part of a shout, buy yourself a non-alcoholic drink when it’s your turn.
  • Don’t let people top up your drinks.   This makes it harder to keep track of exactly how much you’ve had.
  • If you’re at a party, don’t just sit and drink. Join in the dancing, meet some new people or offer to help the host.

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