8. In particular, choose a pleasant substitution for your after-work drink. It could be a nonalcoholic drink, like a spiced ice tea or a fruit smoothie. Or it could be a walk, or a hot bath, or a sliced peach. Do this for two weeks until it becomes your new habit.
9. Switch to mixed drinks with a lower-proof alcohol. There are lots of alternatives to the standard, high-power alcohols of gin, vodka, or whisky. For example, a flavored cognac with seltzer has half the alcohol content of a gin drink, and probably twice the flavor.
10. Always drink double-fisted: your drink, and a large glass of water. Don’t use alcohol to quench your thirst. That’s what water is for. Sip on alcohol for the flavor and the pleasure.
11. Keep the wine bottle off the dinner table. Instead, keep a pitcher of water on the table. It makes it too easy to keep pouring until it’s empty. Instead, pour one glass, then cork the bottle and put it away.
12. Discover the glories of seltzer water. It mixes with wine, whisky, vodka, cognac, indeed almost any alcohol other than beer. Making your drinks with seltzer cuts down on alcohol consumption, in part because the bubbles in the seltzer help fill you up.
13. When you’re at a party, drink a full glass of water or other nonalcoholic beverage before and after every alcoholic drink. We guarantee that the amount of alcohol you drink will drop substantially.
14. Create a list of rules for drinking. For instance, no more than one drink a day. Only drink on weekends. Only drink wine spritzers. Only drink when you’re dressed up in your best clothes, etc. Post the list near the liquor cabinet/wine cellar.
15. Keep a drinking diary. You can find a sample from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (www.niaaa.nih.gov). Tracking how much you drink will provide you with some surprising information that will encourage you to cut down or quit.
16. Make a list of reasons why you want to cut back on drinking. This could be: lose weight, sleep better, fewer headaches, get more done, improve blood sugar control, better sex, perform better at work. Post the list in a prominent place and read through it every time you think about having a drink.
17. Track how much money you’re spending on alcohol every week. Now commit to spending half that amount. Put the savings into a special account (or even a jelly jar) and use it for something special for you (not a bottle of 2000 Bordeaux).
18. Tell everyone you know that you’re cutting back on your drinking. Hopefully, this will prevent people from urging you to have “just one” or “just one more.”