Drink responsibly during the festive season
It's always so easy to get carried away with overconsumption of alcohol during the holiday season. Lots of Christmas and New Year's parties to attend - office parties, family get-togethers, at-home celebrations and the like - and alcohol is always a big feature at them all.
Even more dangerous these days, beverage companies are flooding the market with a host of candy-flavoured alcoholic beverages - all high in alcohol content. If you're not careful, you will get carried away, fooled by the sweet candy flavours to consume way more alcohol than intended.
Unfortunately, if you're carelessly gulping it down, you won't know what hit you until it's too late. Not until it creeps up on you and suddenly your head starts swimming, you're rocking like ocean waves and standing, much less walking, seems like a baby learning to take his first steps. Remember, it may taste like your favourite fruit drink or dessert, but it isn't.
Where alcohol is concerned - especially the flavoured ones - be very, very vigilant and follow these helpful tips to enjoy the holidays without ending up an unfortunate statistic.
Always have a designated driver, never drink on an empty stomach, and always, always, always drink responsibly.
Frankly, there is no rule that says you must consume alcohol. There are several great-tasting non-alcoholic beverages which you can consume that will allow you to enjoy the festive season just as well.
TIPS FOR RESPONSIBLE DRINKING
Dehydration can cause your blood volume to drop, allowing less blood and oxygen to flow to the brain and allow the stress hormone cortisol to have a greater impact on your system, so make sure you are getting adequate fluid. If you drink alcohol while dehydrated, it could seriously affect your system. Water improves the processing of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. Staying hydrated can reduce the negative effects of alcohol.
ADD SOME WATER
Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. Sparkling or soda water or any non-alcoholic drink will do just as well. For every alcoholic drink you have, your body can expel up to four times as much liquid. Straight alcohol can have a number of negative effects, including impaired judgement and loss of focus. Adding adequate water to the mix will allow you to still enjoy yourself while keeping sharp. In the end, you will avoid getting drunk and that dreaded morning hangover.
SIP IT SLOWLY
Don't gulp it down. Sip it slowly and take time to savour it. It's not a race to see how much you can down in a night. Slowly enjoying your drink allows you to enjoy the flavour and pleasure of the experience. Your body absorbs alcohol quicker than you metabolise it. The faster you drink, the more time the toxins in booze spend in your body, affecting your brain and other tissues and the greater the hangover will be in the morning.
ONE PER HOUR
Metabolism depends on several factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in general, most people can metabolise roughly one drink an hour, so try to keep your alcoholic intake to one per hour. You don't have to take that other drink if someone is forcing it on you, or just ask for a non-alcoholic drink in-between. Having a non-alcoholic drink between the alcoholic one will keep your blood alcohol concentration down. Space out your alcoholic drinks to keep the desired blood alcohol concentration.
DRINK ON A FULL STOMACH
The surest way to get drunk is to drink on an empty stomach. Consuming alcohol while hungry may produce hypoglycaemia, which can cause dizziness, weakness, and mood change. Make sure to have solid food in your system before having any alcohol. Experts recommend that you eat high-protein foods such as cheese and peanuts, which help to slow the absorption of alcohol into the circulatory system and burn it off. While drinking, make sure to always munch on something or have it with a meal.
ADD SOME ICE
Diluting alcohol with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease its effects on your body and brain. As you slowly enjoy your beverage, the ice will melt and create more liquid and reduce the strength of the alcohol. You can also use soda water or another non-alcoholic beverage as a chaser. Don't be influenced or embarrassed into not chasing your drink. Your own health and safety is what's important.
ALCOHOL MEANS MORE WEIGHT
Alcohol is calorie-dense, so too much of it will pack on the pounds, which no one wants.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
If you do not already know how much alcohol you can consume without losing it, try them out one time at home among people you trust. Knowing your limitations and sticking to it is very important. Equally important is knowing the alcoholic content of each liquor you plan to consume. Weekly alcohol consumption should be no more than 21 units of alcohol for a mature male and 14 units for a mature female, which would be equivalent to about two glasses of red or white wine five times a week or two beers five times a week.
It is very important to know how much alcohol your system can absorb before you start to feel the effects. This way, you will know if it's just one beer for you at the party, without you gulping down half-dozen and not remembering what happens after that or forgetting what a complete fool you made of yourself.
BEWARE OF FANCY MIXES
While it may be good to sample new, exciting beverages and cocktails, don't be fooled by the fancy names and delicious-sounding flavours. Some of these mixes can be really deceiving. You may find yourself caught up in the delicious flavour and overindulge. Before you realise it, your head is spinning like a gig and your knees are wobbling like an off-balanced washing machine tumbler. Always adequately space out your drinks, no matter how good they taste.
DON'T MIX ALCOHOL WITH DRUGS
Whether it's flu medicine, painkillers, sleeping pills, antibiotics, prescription meds, anti-depressants - you name it, it doesn't matter. It is a really bad idea to mix alcohol with drugs. A real no-no! Whatever meds you are on, make sure they're out of your system before adding alcohol. Or, better yet, avoid alcohol altogether. Way too many persons ignore that medication warning - 'NOT TO BE TAKEN WITH ALCOHOL' - to their detriment.
* Don't force someone to drink it they don't want to. They may abstain for religious or medical reasons, because they are recovering alcoholics, or they just may not like the taste and effect alcohol has on them.
* If you know you have to drive, drastically limit your alcohol intake, drink lots of water, and eat while having that one glass or beer. And make sure you drink that limited amount at least an hour before driving.
* Alcohol intake is for adults - 18 years and older.
* If you are the bartender for the event, act responsibly and watch out for those who don't know their limit and those who have already had enough. Don't always top up because the glass is half or even empty.
* As the host, try to serve alcohol per hour and use small cups and glasses. Make sure food items are always available for persons to snack on while drinking. Nuts, cheese and meat items are good choices. Make sure you have non-alcoholic beverages easily available. Don't allow guests to drive if you think they are drunk. Call them a cab or ask someone to drive them home.
* Despite belief, coffee is not an instant 'sober-upper'. As one expert put it, all you get from drinking coffee to counter alcohol is being wide awake and drunk.
By all means, have an enjoyable, peaceful, happy, safe, responsible, sensible, healthy holidays.