Do you enjoy a drink or two now and again with your dinner?
It’s pretty common these days to have a celebration for anything (as an excuse) that requires cheering and toasting with glasses. However, rising alcohol consumption seems to be more the norm than the occasion, which causes a lot of grief for friends, relatives, colleagues and the emergency services.
Christmas, in particular, has become known for stocking up on alcohol and people drinking more than they really need too i.e. reaching their personal limit. Think about your own usual Christmas alcohol list. It may contain several bottles of each of these popular celebratory drinks:
● Red wine
● White wine
● Sparkling wine
● Spirits (gin, brandy, vodka, limoncello)
Each of these is really popular at Christmas, and plenty of people admit to drinking too much over the holidays and suffering as a result. This results in many people going teetotal for January because they felt bad for their overdrinking, or going on a diet as a result of the amount of food and drink they had.
So, why not skip that trouble?
There are plenty of ways you can enjoy great drinks at Christmas without touching the alcohol. I’m going to show you different, non-alcoholic drinks you can enjoy instead that will save your budget, body, and hangover!
Even better, you can wow your friends and family with these delicious no-alcohol Christmas and winter drinks. They’ll love them and be talking about them and how great they were for years to come!
How much alcohol the UK consumes at Christmas each year
Take a look at how many units of alcohol people drink at Christmas each year compared with the recommended daily maximum. It’s a little scary.
On average, the NHS UK gives these daily alcohol limits: 2-3 units per day for women with 2 alcohol-free days per week (totalling 14 units per week). 3-4 units per day for men with 2 alcohol-free days per week (totalling 21 units per week).
See here for more info and some ways to calculate your intake >calculator
However, a study published in 2018 showed how much people were expected to drink at Christmas that year. Britons are, on average, drinking 26 units of alcohol per day between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. That’s a whopping 156 units over just 6 days. Compared with the maximum limit from the NHS for 7 days and you’ll find that we’re easily drinking over 10x the amount we should be.
It’s no wonder we don’t feel great afterwards.
So, why have we got into the habit of drinking over the limit during the Christmas holidays?
When people were asked why they drank so much over the holidays, the same drinking study found these top five answers:
1. It’s Christmas – 89%
2. Everyone else was drinking – 71%
3. It’s nice to be able to drink without having to worry about work the next day – 56%
4. There was more alcohol in the house than usual – 34%
5. We had a constant flow of people in the house – 32%
And it’s true that we like to be sociable, have a drink with friends and family at Christmas time. Seeing so many people, however, will mean those little drinks amount up to lots over the holiday period.
I also noticed just how many Christmas ads, sales, gift recommendations and menus had alcohol automatically in the mix. If you buy a gift for someone, chances are alcohol is one of the many options or included in a mixed hamper. If you win a Christmas raffle, chances are alcohol will be some of the prizes, if you look on the TV or poster ads, there’s always alcohol there too.
We have to be aware of what we are exposed too in our everyday environment because humans are more susceptible to believe things when it is repeated, which forms a pattern and a habit eventually. So, in other words, we’re unconsciously being conditioned to think of Christmas and drinking as two adjoining factors, but it’s not true.
And, with the amount we spend on those 156 units over the week, no wonder businesses are getting so much of our money.
Did you know more than half of your alcohol spending is tax? That’s why I’m going to show you alternative ways to enjoy Christmas with no alcohol (or reduced amounts).
It will get you back in those safe consumption zones, show you new and amazing tasting concoctions that you may never have thought about in the past (and perhaps find a new family favourite to enjoy all year round). This will really help your wallet too with the amount of stuff we have to buy for Christmas including; food, gifts, visiting friends every weekend and travelling to see family. With that, wouldn’t you love to save a little more than spend anymore?
What are the danger levels of alcohol consumption and compared to the average intake at Christmas?
We saw earlier that people are drinking over 10X the amount of the recommended limit during Christmas. What is that doing to our body?
Let’s bear in mind that there are no ‘safe’ drinking levels. The 14 units per week limit for a woman, for example, is labelled as ‘low risk’. If you were to drink these ‘low risk’ levels of alcohol each week for 10 – 20 years, you could still develop the following illnesses, caused by alcohol, such as but not limited to the following:
● Cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast
● Heart disease
● Liver disease
● Brain damage
● Damage to the nervous system
If this is what you can get for the limit, now imagine ten times that (which is known as heavy binge drinking: drinking more than 4-5 drinks in one session, with over 8 or 15 drinks per week for women and men respectively).
Based on the NHS research some of the risks they talk about are outlined here;
Short-Term Health Risks
● Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
● Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
● Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
● Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
● Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.
Long-Term Health Risks
● High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
● Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
● Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
● Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
● Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
● Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.
By not drinking over Christmas, you can reduce the risk of these short and long-term health risks and bring back the fun and joy of the winter holidays.
Be careful of hidden allergens in alcohol
Did you know that many alcohols contain allergens that you may be unaware of?
Or, if you’re vegan, you also need to be careful simply by checking the labels on your drinks. You’ll find some alcohols slipping them in and consumers are none the wiser, and don’t ask.
For example, someone I know is allergic to eggs and dairy. I was surprised when I went out to drink with them, once, and they asked to check the label of the bottles of wine they were interested in so they could have a glass with their dinner. The waiter, too, was surprised. However, when they checked the label, they found egg AND milk on the ‘contains’ label on the wine.
I was shocked (and so was the waiter!)
Who knew egg and milk could be in wine?
Perhaps it’s to make it cheaper or the flavour richer? Or a combination of both? But now I make sure to check the labels of ALL my alcohol (if I buy any). There’s something about egg or milk in wine that makes me feel like it’s not as pure, even if I don’t have the allergies. I’ll keep my egg and wine separate, thanks.
Here are other types of allergens or dietary requirements which can cause concern for a consumer and is found to be related to these specific types of alcohol. With all of them it is highly suggested that a simple label check would identify the culprit, if any.
If you’re coeliac or gluten-free, you need to be careful of a few types of alcohol.
● Malts (stouts and ales)
● Vodka (some)
Vegan (or egg and milk allergies)
● Check your wine. It is usually dairy or egg-free, but some contain it.
● Rum (may have)
● Baileys (Dairy)
● Amarula Cream (Dairy)
● Castries Peanut Rum Creme (Dairy)
● Malts (stouts and ales)
● Mead (may have)
● Vermouth (may have)
● Gin (Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire contain almonds)
● Vodka (may have)
● Rum (may have)
● Amaretto (Almonds)
● Frangelico (Hazelnuts)
● Castries Peanut Rum Creme (Peanuts)
● Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur (Macadamia nuts)
Find more information here on allergens in drinks > Link
Benefits of going alcohol-free this Christmas
So, if you were gawking at that figure of how much we drink over the Christmas period and your liver was hurting already, or maybe you’ve got one of the dietary requirements above and wondering whether it would be better to just reduce how much you drink anyway?
Here is why I think we and anyone else who wants to join us, should go alcohol-free this Christmas, with some extra benefits for doing so, below.
1. Easier On The budget
For 156 units of alcohol per person over just one week this is a colossal expense! Particularly if half of it is taxed anyway. Tally up your usual Christmas period alcohol list (for cooking, drinking, and gifts), how much are you really spending on it? Include those trips to the club or bar and I imagine it’s quite high.
We’ve become conditioned to thinking that spending this much is normal. It’s not. It’s just for the benefits of the corporations. So, let’s save that money for ourselves and either seriously reduce our alcohol consumption this year, or cut it completely.
2. Looking After Your Health
You don’t just need to have some of the common allergies or an allergy or intolerance to alcohol to benefit from the health benefits of cutting alcohol at Christmas. With people binging on 156 units of alcohol on average over the Christmas week, that’s going to be doing a lot of short and long-term damage to your health.
These include daily dangers, like mental health and learning troubles, alcoholism, and dependence, increased risk of accidents and violence, or more major ones like cancers, permanent liver damage, and problems with heart, kidney, and pancreas failure.
3. Saves memories (and hangovers)
How many times have you enjoyed a drink (or five) one night and then realised the next day you couldn’t remember what happened? Do you really want to forget some of those precious Christmas celebration memories?
Your friends and family are over, the kids (if you have them) are ecstatic, and you’re enjoying the food you’re making (is it a modern Turkey-free Christmas dinner like the one in my other post?).
Let’s save those memories, shall we, and avoid the horrible headaches and nausea that comes with the memory-loss of too much alcohol.
Here are simple, easy and tasty no-alcohol drink alternatives to make at home
● Authentic home-made Indian chai tea
● Honey, lemon, and ginger hot tonic
● Hot, spiced apple (pan made)
● Hot, spiced apple (slow cooker made)
● Hot, spiced cranberry and apple
● London fog tea
● Luxury slow cooker hot chocolate
● Non-alcoholic mulled wine
● Nutmeg and ginger coffee
● Rose and cardamom hot chocolate
● Child-friendly peppermint Julep
● Festive Cranberry Fizz
● Non-alcoholic winter sangria
● Pear and rose punch
● Rosemary citrus spritzer
● You really don’t need alcohol to have an amazing Christmas. Avoid health issues, hangovers, broken bank accounts, and hidden allergy risks and take the non-alcoholic option.
● There are so many non-alcohol options that are incredibly cheaper, easier to make, AND (I believe) much tastier. What’s more, you can share drinks with the whole family.
● Enjoy Christmas Day without the alcoholic daze and dizziness and replace it with making extra memories and having more fun.
● Enjoy a variety of hot and cold Christmas drinks without alcohol, like countless different hot chocolate and tea recipes with winter twists, home-made tonics and punches, and a variety of luxury mocktails.
How many different zero alcohol recipes did I give you just now, that all looked AMAZING and were so easy and cheap to make? Most of them with ingredients you’d have stored in the cupboard in winter anyway.
Give them a go and tell me what you and your family thought of with these delicious and easy zero-alcohol ideas, and send pics if you take any! I’d love to know what you think of these wonderful winter beverages!
Merry Christmas xoxo