Lately I’ve been Rethinking my Drinking. Really. I’ve been mulling over some changes to my lifestyle to get healthy. Mostly because I feel old. I’ve been playing badminton and squash, and each night afterwards, I feel so sore and tired that I feel much like I’ve been kicked by a mule.
As much as physical activity is a foundation to good health, I’ve been giving consideration to improved diet and (even-more) moderated alcohol consumption. A poor diet and too much booze can undermine the benefits of exercise, and have long-term consequences.
As we get older, it becomes all about risk management. Sure, we all want to live and enjoy life. But we all want to maximize the benefits and rewards of a well-managed approach to what we do: finances, food, children, career, health.
Luckily, in today’s internet-driven world, if you are looking to do anything positive, somebody out there has a website to help you. In the case of making changes to alcohol consumption, check out Rethink Your Drinking.
This is an American term, of course. Here in Ontario we call it March break, because Spring isn’t exactly here yet in the first two weeks of that month. Yet, when the break comes, our young people are often engaging in similar behaviour to our Yankee friends.
Whether you call it Spring or March break, the week is infamous for vacations to sunny destinations, complete with binge drinking and other risky behaviour. These parties are sometimes sponsored or hosted by large corporations that appeal to youth.
At these parties, serious alcohol consumption takes place. To accompany all the drinking there are other troublesome decisions.
From the Trauma Centre, San Francisco General Hospital:
A study of college drinkers on campus found that among frequent binge drinkers, the following behaviors occurred at least once:
• 49.7% engaged in unplanned sex
• 52.3% engaged in unprotected sex
• 58.4% had trouble with the police
• 58.9% were injured
Perhaps these issues put a damper on the party, or worse – they make for serious problems afterward.
We churn through a whole lot of research here at the Health Unit, some fascinating, some banal. There are many studies out there talking about alcohol consumption. How many 64-year old grandmothers are drinking gin on Tuesday afternoons? – this information is out there just waiting to be discovered!
More seriously, when it comes to alcohol, we keep learning that small things lead to big changes in behaviour inside bars and at barbeques. What I mean by that is we’ve recently learned of a study where they correlate the amount of alcohol consumed with the size and shape of the glass in which the booze is served.
I guess it’s only natural – when they give a monstrous glass, you might be likely to drink a little more like a monster.
The new study also shows that a curved glass will induce quicker imbibing – almost twice as fast, actually. What’s more, persons are less likely to know how much fluid is in a curved glass.
This makes sense too – the shape and weight of the glass is what helps you visually, physically and subconsciously understand how much drink you have, whether it be beer or a mixed concoction, and how much you have left. If the glass distorts the standard drink, it subtly distorts your drinking behaviour.
This is why we here at the Health Unit are always extolling the virtue of knowing what a standard drink is, and how it helps you monitor your consumption.
It’s kind of like the first time that you got to drive without your Mom or Dad sitting beside you in the passenger seat telling you to slow down. You know that feeling as you start up the car and back out of the driveway … and realize that you are all alone? You think that you can go wherever you want at a speed that suits you … but if you drive reckless, there will be consequences.
As your new Frosh heads off to college or university for the first time, it is like they are driving solo. There is no one in the passenger seat telling them that they have an essay due the next day and so they shouldn’t go out to the campus pub. They may not have the peer support group that they had at high school either.
How do you prepare your child for this whole new experience when they think they know everything? It’s much the same as the steps you took when you taught them how to drive. Role modeling plays a huge part with our children, whether its how we drive or how we drink. Is it time to look at your own alcohol consumption?