3 simple tricks to curbing alcohol intake without any sense of sacrifice

My blog on Wednesday focused on why, if we don’t want to find ourselves unduly stuffed with food at this time of year, it can make sense to start the day with a sustaining breakfast. Apart from solid stuff, alcoholic drinks are the other major potential cause of over-indulgence at this time. As Christmas is almost upon us, I thought I’d turn my attention to this topic, and offer a few ‘quick wins’ for those keen to keep a lid on their alcohol intake over the festive season.

On Wednesday, I made a case that eating breakfast can help put a brake on our appetite later in the day. We can employ a similar tactic with alcohol. My experience in practice is that two major drivers of alcohol intake, particularly in the evening, are hunger and thirst.

A beer, glass of wine or vodka tonic can all pick up blood sugar levels quite quickly, and those that have some hunger or even low blood sugar in the early evening can find themselves gravitating to these drinks. My experience in practice is that when someone’s first thought about what to consume in the early evening revolves around alcohol, hunger is usually at play. And once someone is ‘on a roll’, they can find it hard to get off.

One simple (and obvious) tactic that can work well here is make sure we’re not too hungry before we enter a situation where drink is available (and especially when it’s free). Most people will be able to take the edge off their appetite they have built up since lunch with a handful or two of nuts in the late afternoon. Honestly, that’s all it can take for an individual to find themselves not ‘needing a drink’ to the same extent as when they’re hungry.

The other major driver of alcohol intake – thirst ” may need some management too. Imagine if you will, that it’s a hot summer’s day, and that you come into the evening a bit dehydrated and even thirsty. Could you imagine that in this state you might end up drinking a bit more beer or chilled sauvignon blanc than if you were not as thirsty or in need of fluid? I use this situation for illustration because the answer is, I think, obvious. In the winter, the effect of thirst is not as plain to the eye, though the same rule applies. So, my advice is whatever the weather conditions and the temperature in your home or office, make sure you keep up a good state of hydration throughout the day and, particularly, into the evening. I recommend drinking enough water to ensure that our urine stays pale yellow throughout the course of the day.

Over the years I’ve seen countless individuals apply these two simple tactics with good effect. The vast majority of people who try them say that they have enabled them to curb their desire for drink and the amount they consume. Importantly, though, they have done it without any conscious effort to reduce their intake. As a result, there is no sense of deprivation or sacrifice (which is important for all this to be sustainable in the long term).

One other simply trick I suggest with regard to alcohol is to match each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Seeing as there’s only so much room in the stomach, this tactic not surprisingly tends to reduce alcohol consumption, again with no conscious effort as such. The other beauty with water, of course, is that it helps protect against the toxicity and dehydration a night on the tiles can induce. That means you have a much better chance of waking up the following morning feeling vaguely human.

9 Responses to 3 simple tricks to curbing alcohol intake without any sense of sacrifice

  1. Anna 21 December 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    I’ll drink to that!

  2. Sandy 21 December 2007 at 7:58 pm #

    Good advice. Another tip is to have some food in your stomach before drinking to help delay absorption of alcohol. Drinking slowly helps too. Women are affected by alcohol more than men.

    A good plan to help detoxify alcohol and prevent a hangover is to take 50 mgs each of B1, B2, B3, 400mcg folic acid,100mcg of B12, 15-30 mg. of zinc and 300-500 mg of magnesium and a good antioxidant with food before drinking. Also taking 1000mg Vitamin C every 2 hours is helpful.

    I know of someone who swears by 1 tbsp Brewer’s Yeast Powder to clear a hangover quickly should the demon stuff get the better of you.

  3. Mavis 21 December 2007 at 8:33 pm #

    Have you tried this with alcoholics with any success?

  4. Tiggy 22 December 2007 at 7:46 am #

    As long as the nuts aren’t peanuts, because they will trigger the idea of an alcoholic drink.

    I add some water to my wine like they used to in Biblical times and like the Romans did.

    I rarely notice my body telling me I’m thirsty, but when I do I usually want a gin and tonic if it’s in the evening. Of course tonic water is very refreshing and I don’t put much gin in – just enough to take the edge off the tonic water. It’s somehow the whole experience that matters to me more than the alcohol content. It’s the idea and the chink of ice on the glass – but then I’m very theatrical – lol.

    Milk Thistle is the stuff for hangovers. It detoxifies the liver and is very good for curing constipation too.

  5. Hilda 8 January 2008 at 1:25 am #

    I cannot see any fun or value or pleasure in any type of alcohol at all. Do I need treatment? Hilda

  6. scott 11 January 2008 at 6:02 am #

    Hi . I don’t have too much experience with hangovers, so I’ll just have to take your word for it.

    Another thing that helps is to not drink on an empty stomach, I think.

    And if you hate water you can always hit the Gatorade, to replenish your electrolites, and flush out your body.

  7. Jane 15 January 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    My mother was an alcoholic and I doubt whether a glass or two of water would have helped her cut down her intake !

  8. Dr John Briffa 15 January 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    You may be right, though this post is not offering advice to alcoholics. It’s actually for social drinkers.

  9. Sara Fleming 30 December 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    Great article. We too often focus on drinking as a problem or not a problem, but there is a definitive middle ground that we all need to rein in from time to time.

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