Tea-totallers excepted, many of us expect to pop a cork at a party. The culture of celebratory socialising is, one might say, steeped in alcohol. To enjoy the taste and stimulus of a favourite tipple is fine, but hit the bottle hard and pleasure can turn to pain. Drink over the mark and alcohol’s poisonous effects become evident in the symptoms of drunkenness such as slurred speech, slowed reactions, disinhibition and loss of balance, and those of the aptly named hangover including headache, thirst, nausea and vomiting, irritability, low mood and tiredness.
The good cheers guide
With a working or busy day ahead, predetermine the time you need to be home by. Eat a healthy, filling snack before going out: man cannot live well on canapés alone, and if you’re watching your waistline it will be easier not to graze the dips. Alcohol, mixers and fruit juices are high in sugar so pour small measures, low-calorie mixers and sugar-free water or soda water.
Sip a glass of water and decide how many (if any) alcoholic drinks you’re going to have – one can so easily lead to another and setting a limit helps keep us in check.
Men should not regularly drink more than 3 – 4 units per day, for women it’s no more than 2 – 3 units per day. A pint of average strength beer is 4.5 units, a standard size glass (175 ml) of wine is 2.1 units and a single (25 ml) shot of spirits is 1 unit.
Let the good times roll
To avoid using alcohol as a thirst-quencher (it’s not), make the first drink, or at least the second, a glass of water and intersperse each alcoholic drink with water or juice. Bear in mind picking at salty snacks induces thirst. Watch out for glass size (some could hold a shoal of fish), drink slowly and avoid top-ups – they make it impossible to track the amount you’re knocking back.
One for the road?
Stand firm in the face of persuasion. Hangover-free mocktails are in vogue with hundreds of recipes available online. Savvy party-animals keen to stay the course are turning to, for example, the antioxidant-rich, pick-me-up Virgin Mary or pomegranate spritzer or a vitamin-boosting fresh-fruit punch.
Enjoy the abundance of festive celebrations however be safe and drink wise.
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan