Are *you* drinking too much?

Your glass or two of sav blanc each night may not make you a binge drinker – but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch your pour. Find out how much is too much and how to safely enjoy a tipple.
Binge drinking remains the focus for the media when it comes to alcohol these days. And the stats are frightening: alcohol-related hospital admissions for women aged 18-24 have increased by 200 per cent since 2000 say the authors of Under The Influence: A History of Alcohol in Australia ($35, HarperCollins).
But with such a focus on extreme behaviour, it’s easy to feel vilified for enjoying a glass or two of wine a night in your own home. And with Cancer Research UK revealing last month that cases of liver cancer (which they say is directly linked to alcohol consumption) have tripled in the last 30 years, it’s natural to feel concerned about what is considered normal and safe when it comes to drinking.
“I don’t use the term ‘binge drinking’ in my practice because it has such negative connotations, like of people lying in the gutter,” says accredited practising dietitian Kate Di Prima. Instead Di Prima says just like we try to follow the established guidelines for healthy eating and exercise, government recommendations relating to alcohol consumption should form our blueprint for ‘healthy’ drinking.
According to the most recent advice: “For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.” Put plainly: stick to a maximum of two drinks a day and no more than four drinks on any one occasion.
Kate Di Prima also emphasises the importance of at least three alcohol-free days per week. “If you have a run of alcohol-free days, a few drinks will give you that feeling of relaxation. Whereas if you drink every single day, you need more and more drinks towards the end of the week for the alcohol to affect you,” she explains.
The key to following these guidelines is a grasp of what a standard drink actually is. The Australian standard is a beverage containing 10g of alcohol, which is 100mL wine, 1 can or stubbie of mid-strength beer or a 30mL nip of spirits. In those terms a schooner of full-strength beer is actually 1.6 standard drinks and the average restaurant serving of wine equals 1.5.
Guidelines at a glance...
No more than two standard drinks a day
No more than four standards drinks on any one occasion
At least two alcohol-free days per week

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