Dr Simon Gazeley, a GP at Springfield Surgery in the Canalside Healthcare Centre in Bingley, will be sharing with The Bingley Hub readers exclusive advice on topical health issues and giving his tips for a healthy life.
Many people like a drink over Christmas. Office parties, Christmas drinks parties, bucks fizz, mulled wine, Champagne at New Year ……. it’s everywhere and often hard to avoid.
It is common to think that a few drinks at Christmas does us little harm, and that may well be the case. But once the tree is down and the baubles are packed away for another year, it’s easy to carry on drinking a little bit too much.
Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They’re simply people who have regularly drunk more than the recommended levels for some years. Binge drinking has it’s own risks, but it’s certainly not only people who get drunk or binge drink who are at risk.
It is difficult for many of us to understand the risks of excessive drinking. Most people who regularly drink more than recommended levels don’t see any harmful effects at first. Alcohol’s hidden harms usually only emerge after several years. And by then, serious health problems can have developed including:
- liver disease
- reduced fertility
- high blood pressure and heart problems
- increased risk of cancers
- anxiety and depression
- poor physical fitness
The NHS recommends that men shouldn’t drink more than 3-4 units on average per day, and 2-3 for women. You are a regular drinker if you drink on more days a week than days you don’t drink. And drinks often have more units than we think! A pint of 4% lager has 2.3 units, as has a medium glass of 13% wine, so the units can quickly add up.
Identifying that you may have a problem with alcohol is the first step to getting better, but it is often the hardest one. A great way to see if your drinking is putting your health at risk is to keep a drinking diary or use an alcohol tracker on a smart phone. There are some excellent guides on how to use these at NHS Live Well
There are many ways to get yourself healthier for the New Year, including losing weight, stopping smoking, or getting more exercise. But reducing your alcohol intake is just as important, so if one of your New Year resolutions is to cut down, here’s some tips:
- Make a plan. Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink.
- Keep a diary, it will help you keep track on how you’re doing.
- Know your units, know exactly how much you are drinking.
- Tell your family and friends that you’re cutting down so they can encourage you.
- Make it a smaller or a weaker one. Still enjoy a drink but choose smaller sizes or weaker strengths.
- Stay hydrated and don’t use alcohol to quench your thirst.
- Take a break and increase the number of days each week when you don’t drink.