Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK
Cut back on alcohol
There has been a 21% increase in the frequency of alcohol consumption in the UK since the COVID-19 lockdown. It has been suggested that stress and anxiety, as well as changes to our daily routine, are the reasons why some people are drinking more. Too much alcohol can be harmful to your heart as well as contributing to weight gain and mental health problems.
We have some tips to help keep your alcohol consumption within the recommended limits.
How much is too much?
It is recommended that men and women do not consume more than 14 units of alcohol each week, spread out over three or more days. The number of units of alcohol in a drink depends on the size of your drink and the alcohol strength. A pint of strong beer contains around three units of alcohol and a bottle of wine contains around 10 units. More information about alcohol units can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/drink-less/know-your-alcohol-units/
Keep a record of how much you are drinking
Many people don’t really know how much they are drinking or whether their drinking is putting their health at risk. By keeping a record of your weekly alcohol consumption, you will be able to work out whether you need to cut down. You can complete the Drinkaware self-assessment to find out if you are drinking too much HERE.
Pour smaller measures
When you drink alcohol at home, you are in control of the amount you pour into the glass. Try to control the amount of alcohol in your drinks by measuring it out using a measuring jug. A small glass of wine is 125ml (1.6 units), a medium glass of wine is 175ml (2.3 units) and a large glass of wine is 250ml (3.3 units). A 25ml shot of a spirit is 1 unit.
Include more alcohol-free days
If you are drinking every day, or most days, you could include more alcohol-free days each week. Make a plan at the start of the week and decide which days will be alcohol-free. Try to find some low-sugar alcohol-free drinks to enjoy on the days when you do not drink alcohol.
Before you pour your first drink of the day, set yourself a limit and make sure you stick to it. You could put a post-it note on the bottle to remind yourself when to stop. Try reducing the amount you drink by having a soft drink in between alcoholic drinks and/or dilute your alcoholic drinks with a mixer to slow down your alcohol consumption.
If you are worried about your own drinking, or if you are concerned about the amount someone else is drinking, you can get advice and support from the NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/
You can find plenty more healthy tips and recipes at heartresearch.org.uk.