Five Easy Ways To Cut Down On Drinking Alcohol

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If you want to live to a ripe old age, start cutting back on the beer now, because exceeding the recommended weekly intake of 14 units of alcohol can raise your risk of serious illness and even lead to an earlier death. (Yes, 14 – it used to be 21 for men but was reduced in 2016 by the UK’s chief medical officers – and new research suggests even that might pose health risks.)

Regularly drinking more than this (which is about five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% wine) was linked to increased risk of stroke and heart disease in a study of more than 600,000 people across 19 countries, published in The Lancet. It also showed that having ten drinks a week shortened life expectancy by one to two years, while more than 18 drinks led to a reduction of between four and five years.

In case you’re having trouble easing off, here are five easy ways to back off the booze.

1. Go low-alcohol

Choosing lower-strength versions of your favourite tipple reduces your daily unit intake, lowering your risk of drink-related problems, and cuts your calorie intake. Even better, go for a non-alcoholic beer: there’s lots of them now, and they’re nicer than they used to be.

2. Sip a soft drink

Alternating each alcoholic drink with a soft drink – water or squash is best to prevent dehydration without excess calories – is a smart move if you’re out and fancy a proper drink. It will reduce the units you drink, the money you spend and the number of calories you consume.

3. Drink at dinner

Waiting for your evening meal to have your first drink instead of grabbing a glass of wine or can of beer as soon as you step through your front door can help you drink far less, while pairing the booze with the food you’re eating can lead to a more enjoyable experience.

4. Make mocktails

You can still tantalise your tastebuds while giving your liver a much-needed rest by swapping cocktails for mocktails. Alcohol education site has videos of some mocktail recipes if you need inspiration – the Virgin Mary’s terrific.

5. Track on an app

Still struggling to cut down on your drinking? Download the Drinkaware tracker app to your phone. Logging each drink increases your awareness of how much you’re drinking, and the app calculates the cost and calorie count, which could bolster willpower to cut back.