Time for an alcohol audit for Aussie women
31 January 2013:
With drinking rates at a peak for women aged 45-54, now is the perfect opportunity to do an alcohol audit and check in with how risky your current drinking habits are.
This is the message from leading women's health organisation, Jean Hailes for Women's Health, as the annual febfast campaign kicks off encouraging Australians to stop drinking alcohol for a month.
Young men drink at far riskier levels than older men, however when it comes to women, ABS figures show that only 9% of women in their prime childbearing years drink at risky levels compared to 60% of women aged 45-54.
Jean Hailes for Women's Health psychologist Gillian Needleman says that drinking is entrenched into Australian culture. "Having a few drinks has become the norm, whether it's drinks with colleagues after work, at a weekend barbeque or night out," she says. "Alcohol can become a crutch that becomes a habit to rely on instead of seeking help and dealing with the issue."
Jean Hailes dietitian Terrill Bruere says it's a good idea for women – and men – to check in with themselves as to how much alcohol they are consuming.
"Download the Jean Hailes alcohol audit tool and spend a week tracking your current habits around alcohol so you can have a good understanding as to what you are actually consuming, what your triggers are and why you are drinking," says Bruere. "This is the first step to understand whether you are drinking at risky levels and then finding ways to break that habit."
Excessive alcohol intake has both short and long term health risks. Short term effects include dangerous driving and violence leading to injury or even death. Long term effects can include chronic conditions caused by injury or mood and anxiety issues.
"There are plenty of benefits to taking a month off the booze," says febfast National Director Howard Ralley. "Enjoy more energy, a better night's sleep, better skin and even a better sex life according to previous febfasters!"
"As a bonus," Ralley adds, "it will help you shed those unwanted extra holiday kilos. In all seriousness, you'll feel better and you can help us raise money for vulnerable young Australians who are tackling serious drug and alcohol issues."
"It may be surprising to many people that women in their 40s or 50s are drinking at such risky levels," Bruere says. "But this is a busy time for many women and it's easy to fall into the habit of having a glass or three in the evening to help unwind."
Statistics show that for 82% of women over 25 the drink of choice is most often wine. "Wine is so easy to drink, especially the sweetened wines and spritzers we drink over the summer months, as they don't taste like alcohol and are so easy to drink quickly."
Ten tips to help break the habit of boozing
- Do an audit on your alcohol habits to raise your awareness so you know what, when and why you are drinking
- Find other ways to relax or socialise – try walking with a friend instead of drinking
- Make special non-alcoholic drinks such as fresh juice and berries mixed with mineral water, ice and mint
- Sip your special drinks from a favourite wine or champagne glass
- Start with a non-alcoholic drink and alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Try low-alcohol drinks
- Avoid or minimise environments where you know you will find it hard to say 'no'
- Try mixing with friends who don't drink
- Learn to make choices and to drink, as with anything else, in moderation
- Remember, small changes can have a big impact on your health