The holidays are over. You probably attended many parties and family gatherings. Now you are left with unwanted pounds from all that food. And a bigger gut from all of the alcohol you drank. Maybe you imbibed a little too much on New Years Eve. The next morning you swore you would make a change.
Was cutting back on drinking one of your resolutions? If so, let me give you some tips on how to create a Moderate Drinking Plan. But, first let’s define what alcohol moderation is.
Moderation has also been called moderate drinking, asymptomatic drinking, controlled drinking, or reduced risk drinking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers another definition: up to four alcoholic drinks for men and three for women in any single day, according to and a maximum of 14 drinks for men and 7 drinks for women per week. I have found NIAAA’s guideline to be more risky. Many people start to feel an effect of the alcohol after two drinks and may be intoxicated by four drinks, thus having a harder time sticking within his or her predetermined number of drinks.
A standard drink= 12ounces of beer=5ounces of wine=1.5ounces 80-proof liquor
Prior to developing a Moderate Drinking Plan, I recommend that you:
- Have not developed a physical dependence on alcohol
- Understand the biological, psychological, and social impact alcohol on yourself and your loved ones
- Can commit to not engaging in unsafe behavior after drinking any amount of alcohol, such as driving a vehicle, operating machinery, or caring for another person
- Do not misuse other mood-altering substances
- Do not act in self-destructive ways after drinking even a small amount of alcohol
- Determined that it is safe to continue drinking
Some components that I include on a Moderate Drinking Plan are:
- Why I want to continue drinking
- Situations where I will/will not consume alcohol
- How many drinks I will have at a time
- How often I will drink
- What I will/won’t have
- A person to help me review my plan
- What I/we will do if I am not sticking to my plan
Most of the people who have the best chances of success do things like:
- Have no more than one drink per hour
- Alternate between an alcoholic drink and a non-alcoholic one
- Eat something when consuming alcohol
- Drink only in social situations
- Do not drink to alter their mood
Your Moderate Drinking Plan should be revised as goals change and lifestyle demands. For example, as someone becomes a parent, his or her consumption patterns are likely to decrease. Parents of pre-teens and adolescents will want to be aware of the messages they are sending regarding alcohol. Obviously if a medical issue arises, the plan will need to be adapted.
A Moderate Drinking Plan should not be written in stone. Watch out for denial of how well you are sticking to your plan. Involving a friend or family member in the moderation process leads to better success.
Stay tuned next week for tools to monitor your Moderate Drinking Plan.