Understand your recommended alcohol limits and make sure you’re looking out for your health
Wednesday 11th December
There are lots of occasions throughout the year where many of us will find ourselves with a drink in hand, but these occasions increase during the festive period. Work Christmas parties, social gatherings with friends and family, even a glass of wine with a meal at home all contribute to the amount of alcohol we consume. If you’re not careful, the units can soon add up and before you know it, you’re drinking more alcohol than recommended, without even realising it.
It’s important to know your limits for a healthier festive period and to maintain this throughout the year. The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day; women should not exceed two to three units.
Why should women drink less than men?
Women are advised to stick to fewer units for a number of reasons; they generally weigh less than men, so they have less tissue in their bodies to absorb the alcohol, and as women tend to have a higher fat to water ratio in their bodies the alcohol is not as well diluted. Furthermore, as women’s metabolism works differently to men’s alcohol stays in their systems for longer.
What counts as a unit?
One unit of alcohol measures as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. This equals one single (25ml) measure of whisky (with an alcohol by volume [ABV] of 40%), a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of red wine (ABV 12%).
Remember, one drink does not equal one unit. Cocktails for example have several units of alcohol per drink, and many have more than one type of alcohol within them. When drinking at home, people tend to pour more generous measures than the regulated amount they would receive in a bar, pub or restaurant, so can consume even more alcohol than they realise.
Anything else I should know?
Alcohol is also full of calories, so if you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake you need to include your alcohol consumption with this. Some bars and pubs serve a double measure as a standard – you’ll have to ask for a single if this is what you prefer. Bottled beers contain fewer units than a pint; by switching to bottles you’ll not only consume fewer units, but fewer calories too! It’s worth noting that a large glass of wine (250ml) represents a third of a bottle, and a pint of lager at 5-6% ABV contains more than three units of alcohol.
By being aware of your alcohol consumption you can enjoy a drink over the festive period without going over your limits.
The following websites offer useful information and advice: