How can I cut down on alcohol?

A row of alcoholic drinks including wine, beer and spirits

I want to cut down on alcohol. Should I swap my normal drink for an alcohol-free version?

Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor says: 

A glass of water is the best drink for hydration, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that celebratory. Low- or zero-alcohol versions of drinks can be a substitute, if you like them. Low- or zero-alcohol beers and wines have been around for a while but are increasingly available, and alcohol-free alternatives to spirits such as gin, rum and vodka are starting to appear, too.

It’s a good idea to cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. The current limit is 14 units a week for men and women, but BHF-funded research published in 2018 highlighted that this is a maximum, rather than a target.

The current limit is 14 units a week for men and women.

Although alcohol consumption offers some benefits to heart and circulatory diseases, this only applies at low to moderate amounts and even then the benefits are outweighed by other risks to your health.

Calories in alcohol

Less alcohol usually also means fewer calories. A glass of zero-alcohol sparkling wine contains around 35 calories, compared with 75 calories for a glass of prosecco (10.5% ABV); or around 30 calories for a glass of alcohol-free red wine compared with 90 calories for a glass of red wine (12.5% ABV). Alcohol-free versions of spirits are often low or zero-calorie, but watch what you mix them with to avoid adding lots of sugar. Use calorie free lemonade, cola or tonic water. Or, if you prefer fruit juice, limit the amount you add.

If substitutes aren’t for you, try making soft drinks feel like more of a treat by saving a particular type for times you want to celebrate. Make it into an occasion by using a nice glass, add plenty of ice and a slice of fruit or fresh mint and cucumber

Watch: Why Kim made the decision to give up alcohol

Victoria Taylor Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than 20 years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF, as a Senior Dietitian, she advises on diet and nutrition.

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