A Holly Jolly Christmas: How to reduce your alcohol intake before the festive season

Christmas: it truly is the most wonderful time of year. Every street corner is illuminated with hundreds of fairy lights, the cold weather made warm with hot chocolates, and keeping cozy with fluffy socks and a lit fire is finally acceptable again. However, besides food and family, we can’t forget the third element that makes Christmas what it is — booze. Be it Bailey’s, mulled wine, or a hard glass of whisky, no one can escape alcohol during the Xmas-New Year’s period.

Anticipating this, many opt to become slightly healthier in the run-up to it. While some choose to reduce their calorie intake and others focus on work, cutting back on alcohol seems to be very difficult for the majority of people. So, we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks that will help you master the pre-Christmas period, allowing you to maximize your time during the holiday.

1.Find a replacement

While we all like a pint in our hand on a cold winter night, a lot of it is due to habit rather than actual enjoyment. Have you ever noticed ex-smokers taking up the use of chewing gum or even lollipops instead? This is because our brains are looking for the acts we associate with the habit, rather than the habit itself.

What you prefer to drink instead of booze is up to you — there’s a variety of non-alcoholic beers to choose from, or you can go for a virgin cocktail if that’s more up your street. In case you’re looking for something that’s therapeutic without the side effects, check out CBD drinks like these from TRIP. They won’t get you high, but they’ll calm you down at the same time as being delicious, with CBD’s interaction with the ECS (Endocannabinoid System) potentially helping to relieve anxiety.

2.Have smaller or less alcoholic drinks

If you’re not yet ready to give up alcohol completely, cutting it down is still a noble approach. When you pour or order your drink, try to avert the urge of splurging on a double, and instead, go for a single (or half a single if you’re brave enough). If spirits aren’t your cup of tea (or Irish coffee, in our case), there are also some low-alcohol options you may want to stock your fridge or wine rack with.

For example, Rawson’s Retreat Cabernet Sauvignon is a fantastic red wine that comes highly recommended despite its 0.5% alcohol content. For beer lovers, some ales are less than 2.5% ABV, which means you can nurse your pint without worrying too much. There are also some great low-alcohol gins to try if you fancy an easy way to consume smaller amounts of alcohol. The bottom line is that, whatever your tipple of choice, just choose less and you can enjoy it more.

3.Get a glass of water with every drink

No matter if you like drinking at home or going to the pub, a surefire way to reduce your alcohol consumption is by simply slowing down. Easier said than done, you think? We agree. That’s why we believe in the power of water.

Simply grab yourself a glass of H2O with every alcoholic beverage — and don’t get another tipple until you’ve fully finished your water. Not only will this help you pace yourself, you’ll also get less drunk due to the hydrating nature of water, and mitigate the hangover. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

4.Set drink-free days

It’s a little bit of a hassle to drink less when all you want is to relax and enjoy yourself. We know. If you just can’t limit the amount you drink when you do let your hair down, you can still regulate the overall lower level of alcohol in your system through the drink-free days method. It’s very simple, really. Choose a number of days — no less than three! — when you will have zero drinks.

You can either plan them in advance every week, or decide that every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you’ll stay away from the booze, for example. The point is that on these days you are not to consume any alcohol at all, and then on the other days, you can drink as much as you fancy. We recommend allowing yourself to only drink on the weekend — you’ll be surprised at the impact this manageable action can have. If you need some help tracking this, download the One You Drink Free Days app for either Android or iPhone for free.

5.Don’t keep alcohol in the house

“I can resist anything except temptation,” Oscar Wilde famously said. And, oh boy, how right was he. The truth is, if you have a bottle of your favorite drink lying idly in your flat, you’re far more likely to pick it up and drink it. So taking away this temptation is a no-brainer, really.

Make sure that your house is booze-free. It may not save you from drinks at the office or a boozy gathering at someone else’s place, but it will save you the hard work of resisting the alluring beads of condensation on a chilled beer bottle, and that’s already a good start.

6.Suggest another location for social gatherings

It may sound like heresy to someone who belongs to a country that often relies on booze for fun, but not every social gathering has to occur in a pub. Gasp. In all sincerity, it’s going to be so much easier to avoid alcohol if your social events don’t happen at a place where it is basically customary to drink, and, regrettably, it’s a little embarrassing to order a J20.

Can you go to someone’s house instead? A café? Restaurant? Maybe even a museum or the cinema? You can check your local paper to see if there’s anything interesting happening that will remove drinking as the main focal point of your social occasion, too. This will help you keep away from the alcohol while still enjoying this wonderful time of year with friends.