Fact 1: Alcohol kills one person every 10 seconds worldwide.
Fact 2: it only takes six minutes to react to alcohol.
Fact 3: Women who are dependent on alcohol are 50 to 100 percent more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than men who are dependent on alcohol.
Fact 4: Alexander the Great once held a drinking contest amongst his soldiers. When it was over, 42 had died from alcohol poisoning.
These are just four startling facts we have somehow learnt to overlook when it comes to alcohol, but what’s even more startling, is how many empty calories we mindlessly consume from drinking it.
“How many calories do you think I’ve saved just from giving up alcohol this month? I’m scared to say, 70,000 calories,” Ocsober ambassador Dr Sam Hay reveals to co-hosts Dr Andrew Rochford and Maz Compton in the latest episode of podcast Healthy-ish: Why alcohol is just too good to resist.
And the scary thing is, Dr Hay admits he doesn’t even drink that much – maybe a beer at the end of a long day.
Since losing the booze from the beginning of this month, he’s realised reaching for the alcohol had just become a bad habit.
“It’s something we need to consider and for me, it’s breaking a habit. I don’t drink a truck-load of alcohol but it’s not secret I love a beer. What I realised is I’ve gotten into a habit – I get to the end of a long day, I reach for a beer, and it’s one of the first things I do to help myself unwind in that situation, so I’m just trying to break that habit.”
Okay, so you still might argue that the bottle of red is the only thing getting you to the end of the day, but when it comes to calories, why do you say no to the burger, but you’re more happy to smash down a few glasses?
And better yet, ask yourself this – am you okay with your relationship with alcohol?
This is exactly what Maz asked herself when she realised her ‘sometimes’ activity became a dangerous daily activity. Since going alcohol-free and writing her book – The Social Rebellion – about it, it became clear to her that her body had built up a tolerance to this toxic habit, and what used to be one stress-buster drink, soon multiplied.
“You go home, have a drink, and over time your body builds up a tolerance to that, so what happens over time is that that one drink after work in your twenties because two drinks in your early thirties to get the same effect you had ten years before,” Maz explains.
“You build up this tolerance to alcohol and that’s where you get into that danger zone where you’re knocking back drinks and you don’t know why.”
And on the back of this, Dr Hay highlights the confusion around what exactly one standard drink is.
“In Australia there is a disconnect between what the healthy guidelines are and what’s socially acceptable. The healthy guidelines are currently two standard drinks a day, and that’s the same for men and women. A good craft beer nowadays is a good 1.7 to 1.8 drinks, so that’s effectively one stubby, not two stubbies.
“But what’s socially acceptable in Australia is to have two, three, or four drinks, and maybe a couple of glasses of wine in a dinner party setting or out in the afternoon with your friends – no one is pissed, no one is inappropriate, but you’ve had way over that two standard drink limit.”
And for those who opt for alcohol to get a good night’s rest, Dr Hay lays the truth out on the table:
“Alcohol is relatively good at getting you to sleep, but it gives you terrible quality sleep. So then you’re poorly rested, you wake up crabbier, and you’re more frustrated at the end of the day, so you’re more likely to keep drinking.”
This then leads to poor eating habits, loss of motivation to exercise, and ultimately this unhealthy cycle begins to take over your relationships, work life, mood, and overall wellbeing.
“It doesn’t really matter how much you’re drinking. If you’re drinking regularly, and it’s part of your routine, and it’s having an impact on your mood, relationships, arguments, and work function, then you have a problem.
“We don’t necessarily call that problem alcoholism, but it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and that could be from having two, three, or four standard drinks a day, which doesn’t seem like a lot but its having that effective.”
Bottom line: reassess your relationship with alcohol, and regardless if you’ve endured the most stressful day of your life, or you’re out with the girls for a LIT Saturday night, think twice before reaching for that glass.
“Look at alcohol like it’s a person and describe to me that relationship,” Maz explains.
“Then you’ll get a very good gage on this as ‘a relationship that’s really damaging to me’, or ‘this is a relationship that’s moderately comfortable.’”
Want to reconsider your relationship with alcohol? Listen to episode 35 of our podcast Healthy-ish above, at Apple iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
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