11 top tips for cutting back on alcohol

Cancer

It’s January and it’s a new year. A chance to try new things, form new habits, and for new year resolutions to be in full swing. Perhaps on your list is to exercise a little more, eat your 5-a-day, or even stop smoking.

For many, January is a time to reduce alcohol intake or go tee-total for the month, you might even be signing up to Dryathlon.

Did you know: As many as 1 in 5 people in Great Britain don’t drink at all?

A month may seem like a long time but making a few small changes to your routine can make a big difference to how much you’re drinking. Cutting down on alcohol has lots of benefits, including reducing your risk of 7 types of cancer.

If you’re one of the many people who want to cut back on drinking this January, but aren’t sure where to start, you’re not alone.

Here are 11 simple tips below to help you start cutting down today.

1. Have a realistic plan and stick with it

It can be difficult to make changes all at once. So have a realistic plan that you can action – the sooner you reduce the amount you drink, the better it’ll be for your health.

Once you make one change, it’ll be easier to make another – small changes can add up to make a big difference to how much you drink.

The NHS guidelines state that there is no safe level of drinking, with 14 units of alcohol a week recommended as a maximum for all genders. But the less you drink the better.

2. Buddy up with a friend or family member

Reducing your alcohol intake or not drinking at all is much easier if you’re not the only one! Do you have a friend or family member who is also trying to reduce their alcohol intake? If so, buddy up when you’re together.

3. Keep track

Writing down how much you drink can help you understand how you can cut down. Have you tried the NHS Drink Free Days App? You could also try notes on your phone, a calendar or a notebook.

4. Schedule drink-free days

Once you decide what days not to drink, stick to them. Perhaps learn to make non-alcoholic mocktails or take up a new hobby or activity.

5. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones

If you’re alternating drinks, it’ll make it easier to drink less in an evening. It’s a great opportunity to try new alternatives soft drinks.

6. Don’t stock up on alcohol

Try buying alcohol for the occasion you plan to drink it, rather than stocking up on it in your home. Having alcohol around may make it more tempting to have a drink.

7. Make it a small

If you’re on a night out, make your ‘usual’ a small. This will help you drink less over the course of an evening.

8. Make booze cubes

Cooking a recipe that includes wine, but wondering what to do with the leftover wine? Instead of pouring a glass to drink, try freezing leftover wine and use these ‘wine-cubes,’ in cooking. This can also save you opening a bottle later down the line, too!

9. Avoid the top-up trap

Try to not refill your glass until it’s completely empty. If you’re continually topping up, it can make tracking how much you’re drinking more difficult.

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10. Don’t buy rounds of drinks

Drinking can play a part in socialising when seeing friends and spend time with family. But if you’re drinking in a group, you don’t have to keep pace with everyone else. Buying your own drinks will keep you far more in control of how much you’re drinking.

11. Encourage alcohol-free socials

Planning get togethers that don’t centre around alcohol is a great way to be more inclusive of all your friends and colleagues. This includes people who don’t drink for health or religious reasons.

Amanda Finch is a health information officer at Cancer Research UK

Have you decided to not drink any alcohol in January? Why not get sponsored and support our life-saving research by entering the Cancer Research UK Dryathlon!

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