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I tracked down all the alcohol I drank for a month.This is what I learned

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How many cups do you drink a week?

Every time the doctor asks this question, I’m blank. I drink regularly, but I have never done math. I think I’m an average drinker, but I don’t even know what the “average” really is.

According to the data, I am not alone. In a 2019 poll by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Two-thirds of Australians didn’t know what constitutes dangerous drinking — And many who thought they were “responsible drinkers” were actually overdrinking on a regular basis.

There are a lot of headlines these days What does drinking do to your body And How young people really don’t know about potential harmSo I decided to do my homework.

I followed my drinking for a month and asked my doctor some questions.

How much alcohol did you drink

During the four weeks of June, I drank 41.7 standard drinks — an average of 10.4 per week. I drank at least one cup in 18 days out of a total of 28 days.

All instances were modest: a glass of wine after work or with a supper at home, a DIY cocktail to spice up the Melbourne blockade, two pints with friends when the pub reopened, a high mid-strength at the footy. beer.

It feels like a good indication of my overall consumption, but it’s a deduction of one or two big nights that I usually have in the moon. The blockade ended prematurely, but there were still no house parties, pub crawls, or late-night karaoke.

I drank the most two cocktails overnight, a total of four standard drinks. If those other events were on the card, it could have been something like 6 or 7.

But, as the numbers stand, addiction medicine expert Dr. Kate Conigrave says I’m “not too far away.” Guidelines set by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

These guidelines suggest that healthy adults “should drink no more than 10 drinks a week and no more than 4 drinks a day to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related illnesses and injuries.” doing.

risk

Dr. Conigrave was the chairman of the Alcohol Working Committee, which set NHMRC figures last year. They have been reduced from the previous guidelines set in 2009. It suggested less than 14 standard drinks a week.

“we [now] We know that from very low levels of consumption, especially with regular drinking, the risk of common cancers begins to increase, “she says.

She suggests that drinking at the maximum levels set in the guidelines generally reduces the chance of dying from an alcohol-related illness in your lifetime, as I do.

of course, Every part of our lives carries some riskHowever, Dr. Conigrave suggests considering those risks along with personal circumstances.

“For example, if you have a family history of breast cancer, especially if you have relatives with breast cancer under the age of 50, you really need to be careful.”

These last few facts have really been in my brain since I heard them.

My grandma died of breast cancer in her early 50s.

Those without numbers displayed

When i went Dr. Sandro Demaio, CEO of VicHealth, he advised me to look beyond the numbers.

“Think about what you drink, not just how much you drink in a week. [alcohol is very dense in calories, even before you add sugar or caffeine to the mix]How much do you drink each time you sit down … and I think the really important thing is why you are drinking. “

Most of my drinking is about fun. I like the taste of red wine with big pasta. I like to go out for a drink with my friends. a) I live in australia b) I grew up in a rural area And c) Worked for years with hospitality, It is a common and welcome part of most social events.

But this month of my life was very stressful, which was also a factor in my drinking.

The final week of Melbourne’s fourth blockade really weighed on me, and my partner and I turned to alcohol as a way to create a sense of fun opportunity in our home.

Later in the month, the blockade was lifted, so I adopted a healthy 9-week-old puppy and severely hurt my back (a combination I don’t recommend). At the end of a tough day, I often turned off and drank a drink to relieve anxiety.

This is a general strategy. In a survey commissioned by FARE in the wake of a pandemic, 11% of Australians report drinking alcohol to deal with anxiety and stress..

Dr. Demaio sympathizes with this. He says it’s natural to find a way to deal with it, but alcohol isn’t the answer.

“It feels like life is slowing down, but then we will see our sleep interrupted and the next day our anxiety actually increases.”

He encourages you to look at things like meditation or chat with someone without drinking. “These are ways you can reduce your stress, which actually has a physiological effect on your mood.”

Want to track your own drinking?

Dr. Conigrave says keeping an alcohol diary is a great idea, especially if you’re thinking about reducing your alcohol intake. But to do that properly, you need to be very familiar with standard drinks.

“This is such a trap, especially for self-pouring drinks. I think you’re drinking a glass of wine, but the” standard drink “of wine is a stingy 100ml. You are more likely to drink at a restaurant or at home. Pour 180ml — this is almost two standard drinks. “

She suggests that you usually come up with what you pour first and then measure it. (And as a former bartender, I really served myself too much.)

Dr. Demaio also recommends that anyone who is worried about drinking alcohol should contact a general practitioner. “If we drink to spend the day, or to face the day, they are not a good sign.”

At the end of my experiment, I haven’t made a big difference in my life. I still want to drink 1 pint or 2 pints in a pub with my friends. I still want to drink a glass of wine from time to time with dinner.But I’m going to make more space Alcohol-free day Too. And I will pay more and more attention to why I am drinking.

What I most want is a good night’s sleep, especially after an anxious and tired month. And for some reason, homemade Negroni is not the best way to get there.

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