Admission time: when I’ve finished writing this feature, I’ll be heading to the office Christmas party. I plan to drink.
But not as much as I have in previous years – because I’ve just had a very sobering look at alcohol education charity Drinkaware’s online Unit & Calorie Counter.
I worked out that if I have two glasses of bubbly (3 units, 178 calories) and three G&Ts (3 units, 183 calories), it will be double my maximum daily unit allowance – and put me in the category called ‘increasing risk’ of alcohol damaging my health.
I’m not trying to be Scrooge and take all the joy out of the festive season, but at this time of year, we give ourselves a licence to drink – and our wellbeing takes a hit as a result.
If you choose to drink alcohol this festive season there are a number of things you can do to ensure it’s a Christmas to remember for the right reasons. Here's some tips:
Alcohol unit guidelines
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days
Drink less and stay safe this Christmas. Follow Drinkaware’s advice to make sure you have a merry, healthy Christmas:
1. Downsize your drinks
Photo credit: Shot Factory/REX/Shutterstock
If you’re a beer drinker, make the units go further by drinking halves instead of pints.
If you’re a wine drinker, opt for a smaller glass.
2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach
A healthy meal before you go out, and snacks between drinks, can slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream and help you to stay in control. So fill up on a festive meal or Christmas snacks before your first drink.
3. Stick together
Make sure you leave your Christmas party in pairs or as a group. Don’t leave anyone behind. It's not just the girls who need to watch out – lone men can be vulnerable, too.
4. Plan your journey home while you've got a clear head
If you’re going to get a taxi, make sure you book it ahead or take a licensed black cab, rather than taking an unlicensed taxi you see on the street.
5. Keep warm
Alcohol makes blood flow to the blood vessels near your skin and away from the core of your body. So while it feels like you’re warm because your skin is warm, your vital organs aren’t as warm as you might think. If you’re trying to get home in the cold after drinking, you can lose heat very easily and quickly, putting yourself at risk.