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Drinking a tiny glass of beerI got an email today from a subscriber in response to my article about stuff to do at the end of the year.  I talked about New Years Resolutions.  She referred to a comment made by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, at the cricket the other day, about drinking sensibly, as a resolution for the New Year.

This is a scary issue to write about.  It’s scary because even mentioning it or reading about it puts us face to face with our own worries and weaknesses about drinking alcohol.

Now, don’t call the cops, but it is a lovely warm sunny day here in Melbourne Australia, (I offer guiltily as my excuse), and I do have a cold alcoholic beverage in front of me right now as I type.  I’m not driving anywhere.

Without going into detail or argument about the recommended amount of alcohol doctors and scientists recommend we should limit ourselves to, depending on whether we are young, female or male etc, I offer my thoughts about ways to cut down, limit or control the amount of alcohol we consume.

 - Serve water with every meal.  At breakfast we all have tea or juice or both.  The kids drink milk between meals and with snacks.  But at lunch and dinner we offer water, and serve water at the table.  It works.  I bought a lovely fake cut glass water jug with a lid, made of clear plastic, from Target for $12.  To be fancy we can add ice and lemon slices.  We’ve made serving water and putting glasses out for everybody part of the table setting routine.  Guess what.  We end up drinking some of it.  Who’d have thought?

- Use smaller glasses.  Some wine glasses hold half a bottle.  Get real.  Unless you have a line on them like at the pubs, do you know how full the glass needs to be to measure one standard drink?  Smaller glasses are good for beer and mixed drinks too.  Remember when a bottle of beer was shared among a group using 7oz glasses?

- Water it down.  Try a shandy (beer mixed with lemonade), a portergaff (stout mixed with lemonade), a spritzer (wine mixed with sparkling water).

- Keep count.  It might be better to refuse refills of your glass, and wait until it is empty.  This way, if you know how big the glass is, you will be more easily able to count your drinks.

- Precede each drink with water.  Make a personal rule that you drink a glass of water before any and every glass containing alcohol.

- Drink more expensive wine but less of it.  Take small sips and savour the taste of it.  Be a connoisseur rather than a swiller.  Have an opinion about which brands and varieties you prefer.  You can do the same with beer.

- Choose a beverage you are more likely to sip slowly.  Perhaps red wine is easier for you to sip slowly than white wine.  Perhaps trying a less sweet mixer with your spirits, like soda or mineral water, will make you sip it more slowly.

- Don’t swill down the remains.  If you’re out and not finished your glass, but you are leaving the restaurant, for example, it’s ok to leave your glass unfinished.  It’s ok to leave the table or go to bed without finishing your drink, just as you needn’t finish everything on your plate if you are no longer hungry.  Show more concern for your health than about waste.

- Think about the reasons you enjoy drinking.  Some will be about taste, some about relaxing in a social situation or just participating in a social activity.  A lot of the reasons are just about habit and association, and can be modified without giving up what you enjoy.  You can find other things to use as a reward, as a signal that you have finished work, as a signal that you are now relaxing, as a signal that you are conforming, as a signal that you have taste and so on.

- Don’t drink alcohol because you’re thirsty.  I know, a cold beer on a hot day and all that.  But truly, you know water will quench your thirst better.  Drinking water habitually along side whatever alcohol you consume will remind you that alcohol is not for quenching thirst.

- Try using a gold star in your diary or calendar for alcohol free days, and try to increase the number of these you have each week. 

- Ask your doctor for the latest recommendations about drinking alcohol which are applicable to you.  Don't be scared of it, be aware of it.  Just knowing will not hurt you.

- Be aware of how you are feeling during each drink and after it.  Give it time to be absorbed, and notice the effects it is having on you.  How do you feel?  Be tuned into your own body, to be better able to make conscious decisions rather than reactions about what, when and how much you will drink.

Let's look after ourselves.  I'm getting a glass of water now.


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