What are healthy drinking habits? Where is the line between moderate and excessive drinking? Do we know what we need to in order to make healthy choices when it comes to drinking alcohol? What is socially acceptable vs. the recommended dietary limit of alcohol? What’s the typical discourse? I don’t believe most consumers know exactly what the limits of drinking are in order to make informed and healthy choices. I think the common knowledge and typical discourse is that one drink is equal to one serving, no matter the ABV content, what it’s been mixed with, or how big the glass is. This is incorrect, and many people might be drinking excessively without even being aware. In this post, I hope to give you the information you need in order to make healthier drinking decisions. And in doing so, we can change this discourse regarding healthy drinking habits when we celebrate with our friends and family.
This photo is of a beer sample my mom had while we were out to eat. The beer was 4.5%, she had one, and I drove us all home since I had none. She did not drink anything else for the rest of her evening. “Moderate drinking.”
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is considered 1 drink per day for women, and up to 2 drinks per day for men. “In comparison to moderate alcohol consumption, high-risk drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women and 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week for men. Binge drinking is the consumption within about 2 hours of 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men” (https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-9/). I believe there is a huge disconnect between what is considered healthy moderate drinking, and what is socially acceptable, and what is marketed to us.
Now let’s define what 1 drink is according to the CDC:
• 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
• 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
• 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
• 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey). (https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm)
One of these beers is 8% and the other is 8.6%. These were from my fridge.
The alcohol content in these beers proves the disconnect between what we’re being sold, and what is actually a healthy amount of alcohol. And the discourse about this, is not healthy. We want the higher ABV, we think we’re getting more bang for our buck, and we don’t consider the health effects. If I were to have one of the beers from my fridge every night, that’s too many since they are over 8%. And if I were to drink one of those a night, that would be more like 1 ½ beers a night, which would be 10 ½ drinks per week. And that’s “high risk” drinking for a woman. I honestly believed that if I had one I was okay, and I never considered the ABV content of my drinks. My husband, and close friends all buy the higher ABV drinks, because our habits are unhealthy, and we have no real concept of moderate drinking. Our discourse about what healthy drinking is, is non-existent. And I think it’s safe to say that American’s have a portion control problem when it comes to their alcoholic beverages—in addition to everything else we consume. More information brings greater autonomy. I hope I have provided the facts in a simple manner so that you can apply them to your life, and make healthier decisions about drinking.