The holiday season is full of travel, stress, and—-yes—celebration. But when stress and celebration mix, our drinking can get out of control quickly. In fact, a study reports that the holiday season accounts for a significant spike in excessive alcohol consumption. Friends and family gather to share fond memories, exchange gifts, and enjoy delicious seasonal foods. But, along with these good times comes the peer pressure to partake in drinking eggnog, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. It can be easy to overindulge without realizing it—-until the next morning.  


Rather than spending the day after your holiday party feeling less than stellar, learn how to join in on the fun without overdoing it. The experts at UAB Medical West discuss a reasonable guide for how much alcohol is advisable in one sitting and tips for drinking in moderation. Enjoy yourself this holiday season, but we recommend you do so responsibly. 

What Is the Healthy Amount for Alcoholic Beverages?

If you find yourself at multiple holiday parties or family get-togethers, understanding limits can be beneficial for staying healthy. The recommended amount of alcohol is seven drinks for women and 14 drinks for men per week. These numbers can help you decide when you should drink and how much, while not going overboard. 


If your special occasions are few and far between, a nightly metric may be more helpful. The accepted number from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests three drinks for women and four for men in a single day. Of these three to four drinks, you should have no more than one drink per hour. If not, you may experience fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and nausea  the next day. 

Understanding Alcohol Content

Within each alcoholic drink, the standard amount of pure alcohol is 14.0 grams or 0.6 ounces. While beverages can come in all different sizes and glasses, they should still contain the standard amount of pure alcohol to avoid overconsumption.  


For alcoholic beverages, the alcohol content is as follows: 


- 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 distilled spirits or liquor ( gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) (40% alcohol content)


While each standard drink has varying alcohol content levels, it's the amount of alcohol consumed that affects you the most, not the type. For example, one 12-ounce beer has the same amount of alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. 


It’s important to note that you should not drink alcoholic beverages if you are:


- If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

- If you’re under the age of 21

- If you’re taking certain medications that may interact poorly with alcohol

- If you’re recovering from an illness or disorder that impacts your ability to control the amount of alcohol consumed

How Should I Manage My Alcohol Intake During the Holidays?

We understand that events, gatherings, and relaxation by the fire can all be a little bit more enjoyable with a drink in your hand. But, in preparation for the holiday season, we have some tips on managing your alcohol intake so you can avoid not feeling your best the next day.

Set Goals & Keep Track

Before your party, decide how many drinks you plan to have and keep track of them throughout the night. By simply being conscious of your consumption, you can slow down your intake if you’re reaching your goal too quickly. If you know you have various festivities during the week, plan out how many drinks you plan to consume at each cheerful get-together—or choose one party to remain sober to help balance the amount of sugar and alcohol you’re consuming.

Drink Water After Each Drink

Alcohol dehydrates you, which is why you may have a headache, nausea, or aches after a night of drinking. To combat this and stay adequately hydrated, we recommend you drink plenty of water before, during, and after consuming alcohol. Likewise, drinking water between your alcoholic beverages can flush out toxins, minimize dehydration effects, and slow your drinking.  

Eat Before You Begin Drinking

A healthy, satiating meal before you begin drinking can slow down your absorption of alcohol. If your stomach is full, the water content, along with the food's proteins, fats, and fibers, slows down the absorption of alcohol. Eating a meal can also minimize the effects of a long night of overindulgence, like headaches, dizziness, and stomach pain.  

Find a Substitute for Alcohol

There are ways to feel like you’re a part of the fun without compromising your health or mental state. You can opt to drink soda water, flavored water, sodas, and other nonalcoholic beverages in a wine glass to feel like you’re still drinking in style. Likewise, you can learn how to create mocktails with vibrant flavors or purchase non-alcoholic liquors that still taste like a traditional cocktail, but without the aftermath. 

Drink in Moderation This Holiday Season

With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy all the festivities without sacrificing your health or mental well-being. If you or someone you know are struggling with alcohol, seek help. Alcoholism can significantly impact your daily life and increase your chances of heart attack and stroke. And, it often affects the lives of those around you too. If you need assistance, The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service is available 24/7 for those in need. Or, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional at UAB Medical West.


If you’d like to learn more about alcohol and further tips for drinking in moderation, the team at UAB Medical West provides knowledgeable advice and resources. From festive eggnog to holiday martinis to back-porch beers, we hope you drink responsibly this holiday season.

Find Healthy Balance at UAB Medical West

Need help finding balance during the holiday season? UAB Medical West promotes healthier living in a community near you, including Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, Vance, and others. Schedule an appointment and get expert advice for your well-being by calling (205) 481-7000 today or contacting us online.