Why we drink more at Christmas
There are several reasons why we tend to consume more booze at Christmas. There are more parties and social gatherings to go to, and being on holiday can remove some of the barriers to ‘letting our hair down’ – after all, we don’t have to get up and go to work the next day.
Alcoholic is also a popular Christmas gift in this country: even people not known to be big drink can end up with a bottle of Baileys, a carton of pear cider, a six-pack of craft beer and 5 bottles of wine in their pile of yuletide gifts. One reason people drink more during the festive season is that it’s not necessarily festive for everyone. We may drink to deal with difficult relatives, to forget about money woes or as a reaction to our relationship issues or loneliness.
‘Hypertension is consistently raised blood pressure (140/90 or above), and is one of the major risk-factors for cardiovascular disease.’ Barbara explains. ‘Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure over time, and so increases the risk of developing hypertension.’
It may surprise some readers to know that calories play a major part in this. In fact, what many people underestimate about alcohol is its calorific content, and its consequent potential to cause obesity, as Barbara illustrates. Alcohol consists of 7 kcals (referred to as calories) per gram, compared with fat at 9 kcals per gram and carbohydrates which have 3.75 kcals per gram. Consuming these extra calories may lead to weight gain; and when a person is weight, it places more strain on the heart, which causes raised blood pressure.
How to stay alcohol-safe this Christmas
If you choose to drink over the holidays, you’ll reduce your health and injury risks if you confine yourself to no more than one or two drinks in a single day. Keep track of the standard drinks you consume – avoid ‘top-ups’ since it’s harder to monitor how much you’re drinking.
Even responsible drinking can send a message to kids that drinking is a necessary part of everyday life, which, for a healthy person, it is not. Show your kids that alcohol consumption doesn’t need to be a part of every social situation, and that you can have tons of fun without it.
Are there healthier options?
It’s a testament to the enormity of alcohol in our national culture that even those who are making a concerted effort to look after their health and stay fit will, in many cases, like to let their hairloss at Christmas and enjoy a tipple.
As a point of reference, a pint of beer contains roughly the same amount of calories as a packet of crisps, and a regular glass of wine the same as a small chocolate bar, according to the NHS.
Tips for Driving Over the Christmas Period
This cannot be stressed enough when there’s even a possibility that you may be drinking whilst having the car to consider. If you know you are drinking at a time, your vehicle is around (i.e. if you’ve driven to work but will be drinking afterwards), plan a route home whether it be by public transport or taxi. You should also plan where you can leave your car securely for the evening. Many enquiries we received are from people who started to move the car to a safe place but then thought they’d drive all the way home or because they didn’t want to leave the car parked on the street where it was and hadn’t considered an alternative way to get home.
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