Holiday merriment seems to go hand-in-hand with imbibing holiday spirits, and – with just a bit of planning ahead and following a few smart-drinking tips – you can greet the next day happy and hangover-free.
The first step toward consuming adult beverages smartly and safely is understanding what actually constitutes “one drink,” as well as the impact that alcohol has on our bodies.
As a general guideline, one drink is the equivalent of:
- one 12-ounce beer (5% alcohol);
- five ounces of wine (12% alcohol);
- 1.5 ounces of liquor (40% alcohol).
Another general rule to keep in mind is: The liver can process approximately one ounce of liquor over the course of one hour, so raise your glass accordingly.
It’s also important to understand that – in the arena of alcohol – men and women are decidedly unequal. The reasons are many, including:
- Women’s bodies contain less water than men’s; consequently, a man’s body will automatically dilute alcohol to a greater extent than will a woman’s body, even if the two weigh the same amount. For example, if a 140-pound man consumes two drinks in one hour, his blood alcohol level will be .038. In contrast, a 140-pound woman who drinks the same amount will register a blood alcohol level of .048.
- The liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol – dehydrogenase – is more plentiful in men than in women. As a result, a woman’s body will deconstruct alcohol more slowly than will a man’s body.
- Hormones additionally hinder women when it comes to sipping spirits. Research has found that women record their highest blood alcohol concentrations immediately prior to menstruating, and their lowest on the first day of menstruation.
Tips to Avoid Tipsiness
Toasting does not automatically mean that tipsiness will soon follow. In fact, there are simple steps that can be taken to safely and smartly enjoy holiday spirits:
- Know your limit and stick to it – Unless you’ve never consumed alcohol, you likely have a clear idea regarding how much you can drink without adverse effects. Whatever that threshold is, keep it top of mind throughout the holiday season.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach – Imbibing on an empty stomach is a surefire recipe for holiday unhappiness. So make it a habit to eat both before – and during – any events featuring adult beverages. High-protein foods – such as meat, cheese, and nuts – are especially effective in relation to slowing the absorption of alcohol into your body.
- Alternative alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic drinks – A simple way to avoid overindulging is to stick to a pattern of consuming a non-alcoholic drink between those of the adult-beverage variety.
- Avoiding parking yourself during a party – While it sounds relaxing to park yourself on a comfy couch and drink away, doing so can lead to a night of regrets, because sitting and drinking tends to mask alcohol’s impact. Instead, spend more of your time standing and otherwise staying active.
- Pass on unfamiliar concoctions – If you’re offered a cocktail that you’re wholly unfamiliar with, politely decline, as there’s no way to predict how your body will react. Additionally, without knowing precisely how much alcohol the drink contains, it’s difficult to properly space out your consumption.
Follow these simple tips, and you can look forward to a cheer-filled holiday season.