[Healthy Shift] Lose the Booze
Finally, the week is over and you just cannot wait to leave all the stress and chaos behind! What could be better than a good pint of craft beer straight from the tap to unwind yourself? Maybe two pints of that. Before you place your order, here’s a quick chat to help you drink mindfully.
Adverse health effects of alcohol consumption
Drinking has long been a social element in various cultures across the Continents and generations. Its long-term impact on health is often well-acknowledged on the surface but neglected in practice. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with a plethora of chronic diseases including liver cirrhosis, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and mental illnesses1. The more you drink, the higher the risk you are obviously exposed to the aforementioned health impacts. In fact, even so-called moderated drinking can cause long term harms. Clinical evidence has shown that as little as one drink per day would increase mortality risks related to liver cancer by 10%, 2 drinks a day with hemorrhagic stroke by 23% and liver cirrhosis by 59%1,2.
How much is one drink?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines one “alcohol unit” as any beverages that contains 10 grams of pure alcohol3. Here’s a conversion guideline referencing Hong Kong Department of Health4:
Type of alcoholic drink
|Volume equivalent to one alcohol unit|
|250 mL (¾ can)|
Red Wine / White Wine / Champagne
105 mL (0.8 glass)
30 mL (1 – 1½ shot)
65 mL (3 – 4 sake shot)
How many drink is recommended a day?
The short answer is zero. Your safest choice is always to not drink at all. The general advice from the Hong Kong Department of Health is to control consumption and know your own limit1.
Tips on reducing alcohol intake:
- Ask yourself questions. Before you grab a drink, pause and ask yourself a few questions which would often help establish a healthier relationship with alcohol:
- “Do I actually want to drink today?”
- “Am I simply thirty/bored/stressed/not feeling comfortable to refuse an invitation?”
- “Am I drinking at my own pace?”
- “I am already having a good time. Do I really need to order another drink?”
- “How much have I drunk? Will I possibly drink more considering the events I committed to for the coming week? Is drinking necessary in these activities?”
- Practice saying no. It takes practices to feel comfortable rejecting invitations. Try it with your closer friends who you may feel less awkward or rude saying no at. If you want to give them a reason, go ahead. If not, remember you are not obliged to explain.
- Explore non-alcoholic alternatives. At home or at parties, there are more options than booze to fill your glass!
- Non-alcoholic beer/wine/liquor
- Unsweetened sparkling tea
- Espresso tonic
- Fruit / herb infused water
- When you drink, savor it. You have made your choice and the drink is here. Try to appreciate it at its fullest – the atmosphere of the bar, the aesthetics of the glass you are holding, the temperature/texture/flavor/aroma/mouthfeel of each sip, the moment well spent with acquaintances or just yourself… Make it an experience, make it why you drink.
- Centre for Health Protection (HK). Alcohol Harms You! Drinking Advice to the General Public. Available at: https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/advice_10_general_population_eng.pdf. 06Oct2021.
- Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines – Communicating Alcohol- Related Health risks. Available at: http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/2012-Communicating-Alcohol-Related-Health-Risks-en.pdf. Accessed on 06Oct2021.
- World Health Organization. Do you drink too much? Test your own alcohol consumption with the AUDIT test. Available at: https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/alcohol-use/do-you-drink-too-much-test-your-own-alcohol-consumption-with-the-audit-test. Accessed on 06Oct2021.
- Department of Health (HK). How Much Alcohol Unit Have You Drunk? Available at: https://www.change4health.gov.hk/tc/alcohol_aware/facts/standard_drink/index.html. Accessed on 06Oct2021.