Day 4 – Drink Labelling
Many of us drink more than usual at this time of year with nights out, catching up with friends, and family get-togethers.
We all have a right to know what we’re drinking and the risks associated with alcohol consumption. The ingredients, nutritional values, and calories will be clear on that box of Christmas mince pies but when it comes to alcohol – an addictive product that can seriously damage health – there is next to no information provided for consumers. Alcohol manufacturers should be compelled to display prominent health warnings on labels like “alcohol can cause cancer” or “alcohol can cause accidents and injuries”, along with information on ingredients, nutrition, and calories.
Make sure alcohol doesn’t ruin your Christmas by following these tips.
- Stick to the low-risk drinking guidelines. To keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level, men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units per week:6 pints of beer or
a bottle and a half of wine or half a bottle of spirits. It is best to spread this evenly across the week rather than drinking all at once. Having several alcohol-free days each week is a good way to cut down. Regularly drinking more than these guidelines increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, liver damage, and mental health problems.
- Check the strength of your drink as brands can vary dramatically. On the label, the strength of the drink is shown as % abv (alcohol by volume) and most drinks also show the number of units contained in the bottle or can. Low alcohol and alcohol-free options are becoming increasingly popular – why not give them a try?
- Watch the size of your measure. When we pour drinks at home they tend to be much bigger than a standard pub measure. A single gin or vodka in the pub could be double or even triple at home.
- Think about how many calories are contained in alcoholic drinks. There are up to 200 calories in a large glass of wine or pint of lager; that’s the same as a mince pie and you wouldn’t eat five or six of them in one go!
- Drinking isn’t a cure for the winter blues. Rather than being a stress reliever, alcohol can make feelings of anxiety and depression worse. There are better, healthier ways to cope with stress than using alcohol like exercising or talking through your worries.
A Christmas party binge might be a one-off, but it’s easy to go from drinking in moderation to regularly drinking to excess, and before you know it, your alcohol consumption is at the level which is damaging your health, relationships or work. If you are having problems controlling your drinking, or are worried about a loved one, talk to your GP or contact a local support service – search on http://www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk/alcohol-information/find-an-alcohol-service/
– Many thanks to Alcohol Focus Scotland for writing and contributing this post to Merry Caremas.