Drinking in Moderation—Made Easy

Want to cut back on how much you imbibe? Here's how

by Sara Reistad-Long
red wine glass picture
Photograph: Tammy Fullum

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for women, drinking in moderation means having no more than one drink a day—health benefits tend to cap off at that point. Here are some ways to painlessly limit your intake.

Pick a drink you like but don’t love. If you can drink Champagne as if it were fruit juice but find vodka with soda harder to sip, go for the latter. “It’s tough to exert willpower when you’re enjoying your favorite thing,” says Heather Bauer, RD, who suggests imbibing your third-choice beverage.

Keep your waterglass full. “I always aim to drink three full glasses during a meal,” says Bauer. This fills your stomach and keeps you hydrated. Also, having a goal you’re moving toward (drinking water) rather than away from (drinking alcohol) can seem much more manageable.

Schedule a workout right before you expect to drink. “Afterward, you want to reach for something refreshing and hydrating, like water or coconut water—not something dehydrating, like alcohol,” says New York City nutrition consultant Stephanie Middleberg, RD.

Carry breath strips. “A minty mouth cuts the craving for just about everything alcoholic, wine in particular,” explains Bauer.

Swallow fish oil supplements. Last spring a study found that taking omega-3 supplements reduced alcohol cravings in mice. Other research suggests this may work in humans, too, says lead author Alexander B. Niculescu III, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. He recommends taking four fish oil capsules a day—about 4,000 milligrams total, containing about 1,000 milligrams of DHA. “But talk to your doctor first,” he says. “Fish oil has an effect similar to that of aspirin, so if you have a bleeding problem and/or are on anticoagulants, supplements may prolong bleeding time.”

Next: Low-Cal Cocktails You'll Love

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Originally published in the April 2012 issue

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