Cut Back on Alcohol: 17 Tips to Drink a Little Less

Other than on special occasions, limit your drinking to the level associated with optimal health: up to two drinks per day for men, one for women.

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Limit time spent in bars


Meet friends, dates, or business associates at a coffee bar, not a tavern. If the point of the get-together is fun, casual conversation in a friendly, loose environment, there are many ways to do that without the alcohol. Other possibilities include bistro-style restaurants, bowling alleys, and even sushi bars. These are things happy couples do (and the places they go!) after work.

Watch sporting events at home


Watch sporting events with friends at your home or theirs. A night at a sports bar almost guarantees a morning with a headache. Guys, how can you resist the temptation to guzzle beer in a room filled with beer guzzlers? Make your watch party even better with these easy chicken wing recipes.  

Make this one a rule: Never drink alone


Not because it is so evil—indeed, there are plenty of times when a glass of wine by yourself is appropriate. Rather, do it for the discipline. If you learn to drink alone, it makes it too easy to begin drinking in excessive amounts.

Never drink for solace


It’s the old stereotype: downtrodden businessman, sitting at the bar, necktie yanked down, clothes disheveled, muttering, “Pour me another one, bartender.” Again, we say, Drink for joy, not for pain. Drink to feel alive, not to feel dead. Not feeling so great? These are the warning signs of depression.  

Don't have a habitual drink

Istock/Leonardo Patrizi

You know what we mean: “Seven o’clock, time for my martini.” “Done with cutting the lawn, time for my beer.” “Friday night, time to hit the bar with the gang and have my weekly margaritas.” Think through your week to see if you have a specific drinking routine or habit. If yes, commit to finding a substitute for it.

Replace one habit with a better one


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. There are the 12 steps to breaking any habit.

Swap your standbys


Switch to mixed drinks with a lower-proof alcohol. There are lots of alternatives to the standard, high-power alcohols of gin, vodka, or whiskey. For example, a flavored cognac with seltzer has half the alcohol content of a gin drink, and probably twice the flavor.

Drink water


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.

Keep the wine 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.

Try seltzer

Istock/Lauren King

Discover the glories of seltzer water. It mixes with wine, whiskey, 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.

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