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Suffering from a hangover the next morning is bad enough, but regularly overdoing it can be the beginning of more serious health problems.

For a start, too much alcohol is bad news for the waistline, not surprising when you consider a typical bottle of wine contains over 500 calories (that’s the same as a large post-pub hamburger). A really heavy binge can lead to alcohol poisoning, while in the long-term too much alcohol can affect your skin, your heart and your liver.

Overindulging can be hard on your bank balance as well as your body. Because most pubs now take debit or credit cards you can easily go way over your budget ordering rounds at the bar.

Having a healthier, less hung-over Christmas needn't mean abstaining from alcohol altogether. Instead, why not treat your liver to some regular breaks? The NHS recommends taking alcohol off the menu entirely for at least two days after a heavy session. That 48 hour period gives your body time to properly metabolise what's left in your liver and let it recover from alcohol's toxic effects.

Tips

  • Know how much is too much - Government guidelines recommend women drink no more than two to three units a day (one 175ml glass of wine or three single vodkas), while men keep under three to four units (two pints of standard beer or four single vodkas). That might sound plenty on paper, but be aware that it’s easy to drink much more when someone else is taking care of the measures.
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach - Eating a meal (preferably with carbohydrates like bread or pasta) before you start drinking will work to slow down the effects of alcohol.
  • Make soft drinks part of your celebration - If orange juice or cola doesn’t cut it then whizz up some fresh fruit smoothies at home or ask for a virgin cocktail at the bar. 
  • What’s the rush? An expensive wine, quality beer or sophisticated spirit is best savoured rather than downed so sip slowly and alternate alcohol with soft drinks to see celebrations through to the early hours.
  • Avoid having a hair of the dog - treating a hangover with more alcohol will make you feel far worse in the long run. Instead, have a healthy snack to raise blood sugar levels and drink lots of water to rehydrate and get rid of your headache.
  • It is also recommended that you have 2 alcohol free days a week, to let your body recover. 

Ways of coping with difficult times 

Avoid going to the pub after work.  Arrange a different social activity like sport or the cinema.

  • Have a non-alcoholic drink before each alcoholic drink.
  • Avoid friends who drink heavily and practice refusing alcohol.
  • Don’t drink alcohol when thirsty and avoid salty snacks – they make you thirsty.
  • Avoid situations in which you would normally drink a lot.
  • Eat a meal before drinking, it will make you feel more full and you will drink less.
  • Plan activities or tasks at times you would usually be drinking.
  • Avoid drinking in rounds.
  • When bored or stressed try to go for a walk instead of drinking.
  • Switch to lower alcohol products or dilute your drinks with a mixer.

Should I cut down or stop?

  • Most people who drink too much just need to cut down.  Some need to stop completely.  It is important that you stop drinking if:
  • You regularly get early morning shakes after you have been drinking.
  • You have a health problem, like liver or heart disease.
  • You sometimes have blackouts or difficulty remembering things after drinking.

A yes to any one of these questions means you should seek professional help for your drinking.  

    
   

Click here to find out more about Alcohol services from NHS Dorset

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