You may or not realise that you are drinking too much alcohol. Perhaps a friend or family member has subtle hinted? Maybe you realised you are drinking too much. Or you want to reduce your alcohol intake or stop completely for health reasons or weight loss. If you are unsure, why not take an alcohol self-assessment?
Whatever your reason, the very first step to reducing your alcohol intake is realising that you need to quit or reduce it.
For some people, this occurs when they frequently awaken with a foggy memory of what transpired the previous night. Regardless of why you’ve decided to your need to change your alcohol consumption habits, reducing your alcohol intake comes with many perks – see below (1):
Perks of Giving up or Reducing your Alcohol Intake
- Better Sleep and More Energy
- Glowing Skin
- Weight Control
- Improved Self-Worth and a Brighter Future
- Better Mental Health and Feeling Happier
- A Healthier Liver
- Save Money
- Better Relationships and Sex Life
- Feel Younger and Live Longer
- Better Sense of Control
10 Tips on How to Give Up or Reduce your Intake
1. Recognise the Need to Quit Drinking or Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
As previously stated, the first step is realising that you need to quit or reduce your alcohol intake. Every person has a unique reason for trusting that their regular alcohol consumption is more significant as compared to their comfort levels. There’s a need to realise that alcohol is, in fact, a depressant drug that contains long-lasting effects.
According to NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) consuming alcohol in excessive amounts can be harmful to your health. Either frequently or in a single day it may cause detrimental changes to the following body organs:
- Pancreas—it interferes with the important functions of producing digestive enzymes and insulin
- Brain—changes in physical appearance and cognition
- Liver—affects its ability to properly detox your blood
- Heart—changes in electrical function and its muscles
Additionally, excessive alcohol intake has also been seen to be a major risk factor in numerous types of cancers. These include cancer of the colon, head, neck, breast, liver, and oesophagus, according to the National Cancer Institute (4).
Even a single night of excessive alcohol intake can severely interfere with the body’s immune system. This, in turn, make you susceptible to various viral and bacterial infections. Quitting alcohol intake can bring about vast health improvements.
2. Discover What Is Deemed ‘Normal’ Alcohol Consumption
Most people have no clue what amount of alcohol is deemed as safe. Do you know what is considered ‘normal’ or safe alcohol consumption? In the UK, the CMO advises both men and women should consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week (5). Of those drinks consumed, this should be spread over 3 or more days of the week. Having even one binge day can increase tour risk of long-term illness. For lactating or pregnant women, no amount of alcohol is deemed safe for them. As such, quitting drinking or reducing alcohol consumption is vital for all new or expecting mothers.
As a guide, 14 units per week is equivalent to 6 pints of beer (4% Alcohol By Volume) or 6 medium (175ml) glasses of wine (13% ABV) (6).
3. Establish Your Motivation for Wanting to Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
Been having a few bad nights of sleep or feeling extra tired? Have you realised that it’s becoming harder for you to maintain your weight? Are you a new parent or grandparent? Have you become tired of experiencing the hangover feeling?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then it might be time for you to reduce your alcohol intake. Ask your self the question the next time you have a drink. Is this really worth it? Is this really worth causing a fight with my partner or friends, or worth the extra weight gain? How about that grumpy feeling from a bad nights sleep? In short, any bad feeling or scenario caused by alcohol should be your motivating factor.
4. Keep a Drinks Tracker and Journal of your Alcohol Triggers
It’s not uncommon for life to proceed smoothly before finding yourself with unforeseen stressors. However, stressful scenarios aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In some cases, even great things such as celebrating a football victory, planning a wedding, moving into a new residence, or changing jobs can all act as stressors. It’s why when a person wants to quit or reduce their drinking, it becomes important for them to start by evaluating their triggers—the factors that cause them to overindulge.
Writing in a journal or in a notes section on your phone can help you to determine those triggers. In order to track your alcohol intake, try using a drinks tracker.
5. Come Up with Substitutes for Drinking Alcohol
Decidedly, it’s difficult for the average Joe to sit down and imbibe Shirley Temples when seated at a sports bar. So maybe the appearance of having a drink is pulling you? Instead, opt for sparkling water with elderflower and lime in a wine glass. Adding a splash of Angostura bitters to give it that more bitter taste. Also, have you ever realised that iced tea, root beer and ginger ale poured into a pint glass can often appear as beer?
You may have already decided you don’t want to give up that beer (or glass of wine). SO what are your options here? Try ordering a 1/2 pint or bottle of beer over a full pint. Or have a white wine spritzer (wine topped up with sparkling water). Another tip is to order a glass or bottle of water with eery drink you order. Water can assist you in reducing your alcohol intake. Apart from better hydration, it can also help fill you up in between rounds, and hopefully you land up drinking less.
6. Consume Food with Your Alcohol
Consuming food while having an alcoholic drink helps to lower the alcohol effects as the food assists in reducing your body’s absorption. According to the National Health Institute, alcohol is likely to have an effect on your appetite afterward. This may, in turn, increase your food intake. In the long run, this could lead to obesity.
7. Have a Ready Reminder to Reduce or Limit Your Daily Alcohol Consumption
You may have heard about people tying a string around their ring fingers to help them to remember to finish a given task? In this same vein, getting yourself a plastic stretch bracelet that has an awareness or strength message could serve as your secret message to assist you to reduce your alcohol intake.
8. Enlist a Friend’s Help
Looking for a friend to assist you in your journey towards minimizing your alcohol consumption could act as a motivation builder. Most good friends will want the best for you. Such friends can help you to come up with safe drinking habits such as ensuring you only drink on weekends. This could also include making sure that you have that drink with food and some water.
While there may come times when you get tempted to break the rules, chances are that such instances will be few and occur less. The trick is choosing friends that have good habits as these habits will slowly start to rub off on you.
9. Seek Help from a ‘Higher Power’ or Learn To Meditate
Most successful 12-step programs encourage their followers to try to seek help from higher powers. In the last few years, there have been repeated studies showcasing the benefits associated with prayer and/or meditation. Whatever you believe in, you need to accept your failings. Allow the healing peace of prayer or meditation to guide your journey in minimising your alcohol consumption.
10.Reward Yourself for All Successes
Get a dessert, go for a French manicure or play that extra round of golf using that money that you would have spent on alcohol. Even though changing behaviour may prove to be a herculean task, practicing changes can help you to come up with new and more productive habits. All new and healthier habits slowly start to become something that you can celebrate.
The Final Word
No matter your reason for needing or wanting to cut back or stop drinking alcohol, the results can only be positive. To help improve your health, your mood, your sleep and save money, it all seems like a worthy cause for change. You don’t have to make a drastic change overnight. Start small, one step at a time and take it from there. If you fail, don’t worry. Pick yourself up and start again. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”