By

Amanda is Healthy Food Guide's nutrition editor with a degree in nutrition and a post-grad diploma in dietetics. She is a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and The Guild of Food...

If you want to join the fun of the 31st but not start the New Year with a raging hangover, we’re here to show you how. If you’re honest with yourself about the what, wheres and whys of drinking alcohol then you have more chance of surviving the night intact.

We’ve got 6 simple swaps that can save you vital units because the bottom line is that the fewer you glug down, the less risk of a banging headache the following morning.

8 FACTS YOU CAN’T GET AWAY FROM

  1. Alcohol is alcohol. It does not matter which drink is your favourite, whether it’s Prosecco, wine or vodka, beer, lager or cider – the alcohol all of these drinks contain is pure ethanol (the ‘proper’ name for alcohol) and it behaves exactly the same in your body once you drink it.
  2. We measure alcohol in units. One unit is 10ml or 8g pure alcohol and we’re advised to stick with no more than 14 a week, which are spread throughout the week. You can work out the units of any drink by knowing how many millilitres of it you drink and its Alcohol By Volume or ABV. The ABV is the percentage of the drink that is pure alcohol. In other words, a 12% ABV wine simply means that 12% of its total volume is pure alcohol. You do the sums by multiplying the millimetres by the ABV and dividing this figure by 1,000.
  3. The average amount of alcohol your body can process in your liver is about one unit per hour. If you drink more than this, the amount of alcohol circulating in your blood rises. The more you drink, the higher blood alcohol rises. The higher it rises, the greater the risk to your immediate health and the chances of a hangover the following day.
  4. Knowing your units, keeping track of them and sticking with 2 to 3 for the night is the best way to stay in control, minimise risk to health and avoid a hangover.
  5. Eating food at the same time as drinking will slow the speed at which alcohol levels rise in your blood but it will still only be processed and broken down by the liver at one unit per hour.
  6. Drinking water and other soft drinks during the evening may help to reduce a headache the following morning a little because you’re less dehydrated. But if you drink too many units, it won’t miraculously stop a hangover because the other effects of too much alcohol like nausea and stomach upset, acid reflux and dizziness will still need to be endured.
  7. Blood alcohol levels rise more rapidly in women than men drink for drink. This is because women have less body water and more body fat so there’s less water for it to be dissolved in. In other words, women can’t ‘match’ men drink for drink and expect to not suffer more.
  8. Alcohol can make you feel more relaxed and sociable initially, but remember that chemically it is a depressant and it can quickly make you feel down rather than up. If you want to welcome 2018 with good cheer and avoid a New Year hangover, there is not getting away from it: you need to limit your units and pace yourself.

 

SMART DRINKS SWAPS

SWAP 175ml glass of 12% ABV Prosecco = 2.1 units

FOR 175ml glass of 10% ABV sparkling wine half and half                                                                                    with orange juice = 0.9 units

SAVE 1.2 UNITS

 

SWAP 175ml glass 12.5% ABV pink champagne e.g. Mumm Rose = 2.2 units

FOR 125ml glass 4% ABV Lambrusco Rosato = 0.5 units

SAVE 1.7 UNITS

 

SWAP 2nd glass of 12% 175ml glass champagne 2.1 units

FOR glass sparkling elderflower cordial = 0 units

SAVE 2.1 UNITS

 

SWAP cosmopolitan cocktail with 1 shot vodka, 1 shot orange liqueur and 25ml each lime and cranberry juice = 3 units

FOR cosmopolitan Lite with 1 shot vodka, ½ shot orange liqueur and 25ml each lime and cranberry juice = 1.5 units

SAVE 1.5 UNITS

 

SWAP 330ml can 5% ABV alcopop e.g. Bacardi Cuba Lime = 1.7 units

FOR 275ml bottle 4% ABV alcopop eg WKD Original =- 1.1 units

SAVE 0.6 UNITS

 

SWAP large (50ml) 40% ABV spirits and mixer eg gin and tonic, rum and coke = 2 units

FOR single spirits and mixer = 1 unit

SAVE 1 UNIT

 

SWAP 175ml glass 12% ABV white wine = 2.1 units

FOR 125ml glass of 10% ABV white wine = 1.3 units

SAVE 0.8 UNITS

 

SWAP 250ml glass 14% ABV red wine = 3.5 units

FOR 175ml red glass 10% ABV wine = 1.8 units

SAVE 1.7 UNITS

 

SWAP 1 pint 5% ABV beer = 2.8 units

FOR 330ml 4% ABV beer = 1.3 units

SAVE 1.5 UNITS

 

SWAP 500ml strong 7% ABV cider e.g. Aspall Premier Cru Dry = 3.5 units

FOR 500ml low alcohol 0.9% ABV cider = 0.5 units

SAVE 3 UNITS