4 Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol During the Holidays

Parties and presents, dining and drinks: The holiday season can bring an abundance of celebration — and drinking is often a big part of those festivities. But as experts continue to explore the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol, more people are choosing to reduce how much they drink or abstain from drinking altogether.

“Alcohol is a toxin that our body has to metabolize, chemically convert, and excrete,” explains Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT, director of nutritional products at Life Time. “This is a process that disrupts our normal metabolism and sleep, as well as increases certain nutrient requirements. It can also negatively impact your mood, concentration, and general mental wellness. Cutting back on alcohol is sure to help most people feel and function better, even if they don’t go totally dry.”

Whatever your reasoning, limiting your alcohol consumption during the holidays can be a challenge — especially when gatherings often center on traditional holiday drinks like spiked eggnog or cider and sparkling wine. Kriegler offers the following tips for those looking to cut back.

1. Define what “cutting back” means to you.

Choose a tangible goal for how you will approach drinking at holiday gatherings this year. Are you trying to abstain completely? Do you want to stick to one or two drinks per holiday weekend? No matter how you outline it, make sure your goal is measurable, reasonable, and achievable.

2. Frame it as an experiment.

Rather than letting it feel like a high-pressure commitment, consider thinking of limiting your intake like this: I wonder what will happen if I don’t drink alcohol at this party? or I wonder how I’ll feel tomorrow if I only have one drink tonight?

3. Explore nonalcoholic beverages.

There are a wide variety of nonalcoholic beers, liquor alternatives, and mocktails on the market —  and on restaurant and bar menus too) that can give you a way to still feel like you’re participating without drawing attention to the fact that you’re not drinking.

Explore these festive mocktail recipes: “11 Winter Mocktails”

4. Recruit support.

Often one of the biggest barriers to cutting back on consumption is how intertwined alcohol is with socialization. If you feel comfortable, be open with your friends and family about your goals for limiting alcohol. Finding someone to cheer you on can help you stick with your intentions.

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