How many times in your parenting life have you been woken up far too early? Pretty much every day? And on the odd occasion that you’ve had a glass of alcohol too many the night before, your head is pounding, you feel sick and it’s not just because a small child is using you as a trampoline.
We all love a good night out, or more often than not a good night in if you’re a parent. Socialising is a great way to relax, unwind and enjoy some adult time. After all, you've given your all to the kids and you deserve some YOU time. You’ve deserve some R and R.
The Evil Alcohol Voice
More often than not an evening of socialising is accompanied by a glass or two of some alcoholic beverage. Drinking alcohol in moderation is fine, but do you ever find that you wake up in the morning wishing you’d had one glass less? Alcohol has that affect, the evil “just one more glass” monster raises it’s ugly head. After we’ve had a glass, it’s more and more difficult to say NO. It seems like such a good idea at the time and that whispering voice of “I’ve had enough” gets ignored.
Alcohol Health Risks
You don’t have to have a drinking problem to want to drink less alcohol. Although socially acceptable, it’s common knowledge that alcohol is bad for your health. Pretty much every part of your body is damaged by alcohol consumption. The more you consume, the more damage you do.
We all know that alcohol can affect your mood. It can lead to accidents, violence and alcohol poisoning. If you’re pregnant it can lead to miscarriage or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (a condition that affects your unborn baby and stays with them for life.)
Alcohol consumption also has long term consequences and can affect pretty much all of your organs, your heart, your liver, your digestive system. It can increase your risk of many cancers and lead to mental health problems. Not to mention alcohol dependence or alcoholism.
Too much alcohol is bad for anyone but as parents we face special responsibilities. Our kids, oblivious to our late night and fragile state will no doubt wake at the normal time and jump all over us demanding lots of attention, in the loudest possible way. Plus, we’ll probably be extra grumpy and tired. Not a great combination for a happy family day.
Alcohol has a “dose affect” in that the more you drink of it, the worse it is for your health. Drinking no alcohol at all is clearly the best for your health.
However, if you stick to sensible limits you should be fine. The recommended weekly alcohol amounts for both men and women are 14 units. These should be spread out during the week. It’s better to drink a little every day than your entire quota in one day. It’s also a good idea to have 3 alcohol free days a week.
Pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol at all.
A unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, larger or cider (3-4% strength.) A small measure of spirits (25 mls) or two thirds of a glass of ordinary strength wine (12%). In a restaurant or pub a glass of wine is normally 125 mls and a measure of spirits is 30 mls, both of these are 1 and a half units.
How Can We Drink Alcohol in Moderation?
The obvious answer is to find a non alcoholic, or low alcoholic drink instead. Failing that, here are some tips that you will find helpful. The idea is to set up your surrounds so that after you’ve had one glass, you turn to something else, rather than necking the rest of the bottle.
- Put out a Jug of Water or Non Alcoholic Drink. We are programmed to eat and drink what is in front of us. If it’s beer, we’ll drink beer. If it’s wine, we’ll drink wine. If you put a jug of something non alcoholic in front of everyone, they will help themselves, diluting the amount of alcohol consumed. I love fizzy water and could drink gallons of it.
- Non Salty Snacks. Eating whilst drinking is a great way to decrease the speed at which alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream. Mostly we put out salty, greasy snacks such as crisps and salty nuts which make us feel more thirsty. We end up quenching that thirst with beer. Try something that isn’t salty or greasy. How about cut up fruit or vegetables? If you can make them ‘liquidy’ like cucumber or watermelon, even better.
- Set a Limit and Stick to it. Before the evening starts, decide how many glasses you are going to drink and stick to your limit. Try having every other glass as a non alcoholic drink. When you’ve finished your limit, drink something else. My favourite is herbal tea.
- Get other People to Support You. If people know that you don’t want to drink too much, they’ll try to help you rather than encourage you to drink more. If you stay quiet, chances are they’ll encourage you to drink more, probably out of politeness. Try asking them to join you. They’ll thank you in the morning too.
- Think about who you Hang out with. Got a friend who always wants to drink lots and lots and another who only drinks a small amount? How about doing something else with the heavy drinker? A family lunch or afternoon walk. Evening drinks with the light drinker.
- Don’t Stock Up. You know that feeling when you’re thinking of going to bed and someone suggests another drink? Let’s raid the drinks cabinet! What drinks cabinet you ask innocently. If there isn’t any more, that’s it, no more alcohol. If you keep a stash, it’s easy to open another bottle or have a night cap.
Enjoying drinking alcohol in moderation is great fun. As with everything, moderation is the key. Not only will you reap long term health benefits, but you’ll be so grateful the next morning when a small child is bouncing on you and you don’t have to deal with the added side effects of a hangover. Perhaps you’ll even join in the bouncing!