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.