Want to cut back on alcohol?

Cut back on how much alcohol you drink
Cut back on how much you drink: Try a refreshing glass of tonic water with twist of lemon

It’s the season for socialising – and with it comes increased opportunity for drinking alcohol. Barbecues, celebrations, race days, weddings, and long summer evenings in your backyard are all occasions where a cool alcoholic drink seems like the perfect fit.

Enjoying a drink is fine, but if you’ve found that you’re feeling a little sluggish and unmotivated to pull on your activewear the morning after a night out, then you might be considering ways that you can cut back on alcohol without cutting back your social life.

There could be a number of other reasons why you want to cut back. Perhaps you’re trying to lose weight, save money, regain focus or achieve some fitness goals and you feel that alcohol is the indulgence that is holding you back, or you’re simply weary of tighter drink driving limits. Overindulging can leave you feeling tired, cranky, unmotivated and affect your concentration well into your work week. So, whatever your reason, cutting back your alcohol intake is definitely a step in the right direction for your overall health and wellbeing.

Here are 6 tips for surviving the summer social scene while cutting back on alcohol:

1. Alternate with water
Always have a glass of water at hand when you’re drinking. For every one glass of alcohol, have two glasses of water. Not only will it slow you down from heading back to the bar, but it will also keep you more hydrated and reduce the effects of your hangover the next day. Don’t guzzle these down though. Take your time as you would with a glass of wine. Often it’s simply the fact that you have a glass to hold and sip from that will keep you distracted from hitting the booze instead.

2. Choose lighter alcohol options
If you still want to drink but don’t want to hit it hard, then choose a lower alcohol option – there are some great options available, from wine to beer to pre-mixed options. If you’re looking to cut back on alcohol in order to lose weight, choosing a lower alcohol drink is actually more effective than choosing a lower calorie option.

3. Go alcohol-free
Staying sober doesn’t have to mean sticking to water or fizzy drink. Go for a mocktail instead! There are so many delicious options that are a fun and tasty alternative to the real deal – here are a couple of simple mocktail recipes to get you started. If you’re playing host, create an alcohol-free punch option for your guests, such as this refreshing one for summer. Find a big jug or punch bowl, throw all the ingredients in and your non-drinking guests will love it! If you’re visiting a friend, bring an alcohol-free option with you, so you don’t get caught out.

4. Get drink savvy
If you want to cut back on alcohol for weight loss, then understanding calorie intake and the impact of drinking is a good way to motivate yourself to hold back. A standard glass of red or white wine is around 160 calories – so just remember that next time you want to order another!

5. Change up your catch-ups
Instead of meeting up with friends or family over a drink, suggest some alternative options for getting social. Instead of a Friday after-work drink, why not opt for fish and chips at the beach. Instead of dinner out, suggest going to a cooking class. Or instead of a Saturday night on the town, try a movie night or an evening stroll and ice cream. It still gives you the opportunity to be social and keep in touch with friends, without the pressure of being in situations where alcohol is likely to be on the agenda.

6. Ditch bad habits
Are you in the habit of having a glass or two of wine as soon as you get home from work? Or perhaps you find yourself enjoying a drink while you’re browsing online shopping sites? Try to cut this behaviour from your week. They say it takes around 21 days to form a new habit, so you’ll have to stick with it! Opt for herbal teas either hot or cold instead.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink while socialising, but you don’t want your drinking habits to take a toll on your health and well-being. If you feel that drinking alcohol is having more serious effects on you, your family, your relationships or your employment then it’s important to seek help and support from a health professional. Speak to your GP or get in touch with your local Alcoholics Anonymous support group – either in New Zealand or Australia.

Do you have any other ideas for cutting back on alcohol? Share them in the comments below.