Alcohol- is it OK?


Firstly- do you know how many glasses of wine are in a standard bottle?

If you said 3 or 4 then each glass holds 2 or more standard drinks. Those glasses can get very large!

A standard drink is 10g of alcohol:


  • A pint (425ml) of light beer
  • 285ml* of regular beer
  • A small glass (100ml) of wine
  • A glass of fortified wine port or sherry (60ml)
  • A nip (30ml) of spirits or liqueurs

*A 285ml beer is a pot in Victoria, a middy in NSW, the ACT and WA, a schooner in SA and a handle in the NT. Confusing?

It can be hard to work out how many standard drinks you have actually had. An average stubby or can of beer contains 1.5 standard drinks, so a "six pack" actually contains 9 standard drinks! Drinks we pour at home can be much be larger than a standard drink.

So- how much is OK?

The NHMRC recommend that we drink no more than 2 standard drinks per day and limit to no more than 4 standard drinks at any one time. There should also be 2 alcohol free days per week. The Cancer Council says that there is no safe level of intake and recommend that men have no more than 2 and women no more than 1 standard drink per day. Regular drinking can lead to alcohol dependence.

Excess alcohol intake can contribute to many health problems. It can affect your liver or cause brain damage, heart disease, high blood pressure and increases your risk of many cancers. It increases your risk of injury through car accidents, violence, falls and accidental death. Alcoholic drinks are also high in calories and can contribute to weight gain. Alcohol can stimulate your appetite, meaning that you eat a lot more- not great for the waistline.

Alcohol is thought to have some protective benefits for the heart, but the increased risk of cancer must be offset against this possible benefit to the heart. If you are non drinker, there is no clear reason to start drinking. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised not to drink alcohol. Young people should be encouraged to delay introduction of alcohol.

If you have a medical problem or are taking medication then speak to your doctor or dietitian about your special circumstances.

Tips to reduce your alcohol intake

  • Sip rather than drink, and put your glass down between sips.
  • See standard drink sizes to keep track of how much you are having. Some glasses will hold much more than one standard drink.
  • Stick to a predetermined limit on the number of drinks that you have.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Have a jug of water on your table when you are out, and keep alcohol free drinks in the fridge at home.
  • Do not use alcohol to quench your thirst.
  • Avoid drinking in "rounds" or "shouts".
  • Don't allow the waiter to top up your drinks before you have finished.
  • Drink light beer instead of full strength, and drink half measures of spirits.
  • Avoid snacking on salty snacks when drinking alcohol as these will make you thirstier. Look for healthier alternatives.
  • Plan regular alcohol free days.
  • If you drink when you are bored or stressed, look for other ways to deal with this. Go for a walk, phone a mate, read a book, have a bath, start a new hobby.
  • Try some new activities with friends that do not involve alcohol.



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