Tips for drinking alcohol sensibly

Look after your health by drinking alcohol in moderation

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Our weekly alcohol intake triples during the festive season, according to FebFast, a charity that supports alcohol and drug programmes.

“This time of year is hot and we often use alcohol as a thirst quencher,” says dietitian Julie Gilbert. “If you stay well hydrated, you’ll cut your alcohol intake considerably. When you arrive at a party, the first drink you should have is a glass of water or a diet soft drink.”

When you do move on to the booze, get some carbs into your system first. Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels, and forgetting to eat lowers them further still. Nourishing snacks will nudge blood sugars back to normal.

Avoid dark-coloured drinks like whisky, brandy, even red wine. Drinks that are darker in colour are higher in congeners, a toxic by-product of the fermenting process in some alcohols. How rotten you feel the next day may depend on the amount of congeners you’ve consumed, advises Professor Steve Allsop, director of the Australian Drug Research Institute.

Our pick? Light wines. They have about 25% less alcohol, and some also have fewer kilojoules (check the bottle).
 

Top hangover tip

If you do overindulge in party drinks, have a glass of milk before hitting the sack, advises Dr Andy Dowson, director of headache services at King’s College London. Why? Milk is an antidiuretic, which means it stops the kidneys producing urine. “You can rehydrate your body and won’t be woken by constantly needing the loo,” says Dowson. “Interrupted sleep contributes to the headaches associated with hangovers.” How alcohol affects your sleep

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