Take control of your alcohol consumption

There are as many ways of healthily, happily moderating your drinking habits as there of moderating your eating habits. The principles are the same: beware of your triggers, make overindulging difficult and exert portion control…

Quench your thirst

When you go to the pub or a restaurant, order a glass of water with your first drink and down the water first. After a day in a heated or air conditioned office, or after exercise, you are probably dehydrated – quench your thirst with water and you’re more likely to sip rather than gulp down that first pint, wine, whatever.

Size matters

Order single measures of spirits, small glasses of wine, half-pints or bottles of beer and get in the habit of drinking slowly – put the glass back on the bar/table between sips rather than keeping hold of it.

Mix it up

Alternate each alcoholic drink with a low-calorie soft drink or, preferably, a glass of water.

Know your numbers

Just as you’d check the calorie count on a mixer, get in to the habit of checking the Alcohol By Volume (ABV) percentage on bottles and cans – the lower the ABV the better for units and calories. Low-calorie mixers include diet versions of soda, tonic, lemonade, orange and cranberry, tomato juice is a healthy option (with or without alcohol), or try clear spirits on ice with a dash of pure lime or lemon juice; beware sugared glass rims on cocktails.

Home sweet home

At home, invest in a good bottle-stop (available for wine and fizz) and a set of small wine glasses – portion control! Pour beer or lager into smaller glasses, too, so you get two drinks from each can or bottle, and use a measure for spirits (or check where a single measure comes to on the glasses you regularly use). Same as when you’re out, make the first drink at home non-alcoholic.


It is always better to eat some food alongside the booze, so at home you could decide to have a glass of wine only with dinner; at the pub have a snack (olives or hummus and pitta bread, cheese board to share, jacket potato) and avoid the dreaded alcohol-fuelled binge!

Written by Ruth Tongue

(MSc Nutrition)