It is no secret that we Brits love a drink. Pubs are part of our history and culture as much as tea on the village green. But you can’t do that when it’s raining and it does that a lot here. Pubs are all weather fun because they also tend to have gardens for summer and cosy fires for winter. Stag and hen nights, birthdays and many other celebrations – the first stop is generally the pub. Then there are Bank Holidays! We love ‘em! We were all devastated when the upcoming Royal wedding was announced as a Saturday. You’d think Prince Harry of all people would appreciate our desire for an extra boozy day off.
It was in the 1970s that the term Holiday Heart Syndrome was first coined. It referred to the surge in health problems, specifically heart-related things such arrhythmia and even sudden death, following a public holiday. Other European countries do not have the binging culture that we do. Italians and Spaniards meet for a leisurely drink or enjoy a good wine with dinner. We all know the French keep the good stuff for themselves and why shouldn’t they? No use wasting it on people who would rather drink their body weight in Strongbow washed down with a jager bomb (whatever that is). I am generalising, of course. There are pockets of binging culture creeping into other countries, unfortunately, and there are plenty of Brits who appreciate quality wine and do not regularly make themselves ill with it. But there is still a big binge-drinking culture in this country and a large chunk of the obesity problem can probably be attributed to it.
Now it’s Christmas. Every year there is some doctor or paramedic on the news pleading with people not to overdo it. Probably because it’s bad enough they have to work 17 hours on Christmas day, and New Year which is another level altogether and would probably rather not have it worsened by people vomiting and being abusive due to the damage they have inflicted on themselves. Please, think of the emergency services!!
Overdrinking on a semi-regular basis can lead to high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain and heart problems. Behaviourally, it can cause aggression and compromised judgement which offers dangers of their own such as injury or STIs. Alcohol is also a depressant and gave have severe effects on self-esteem and confidence.
Approximately 60 million alcohol units are consumed in December alone. This is comprised of 35 million bottles of wine and 250 million pints to name just two. Alcohol consists of seven calories per gram, compared with nine for fat and 3.75 for carbs). In 2012, 62% of people admitted to using alcohol relax in the evening and 44% were likely to drink after a stressful day. We know stress is high in our modern society. Christmas can be stressful and to add that to extra socialising many of us will be doing suggests potentially alarming risks.
In 2011, 7123 drivers were caught drink driving. CAUGHT! Many probably got away with it. In the US, the day before Thanksgiving which is about a month before Christmas is sometimes referred to Blackout Wednesday. So, in fairness, it’s not just us Brits but whether that is, in fact, a good thing is debatable. Here are few tips to avoid overindulging this festive season:
- Say you’re driving when you’re not! Social pressure to drink is high, it really confuses people when you don’t. If they won’t leave you alone this little white lie should shut them up.
- Watch out for top-ups at parties and dinner – it’s amazing how your glass gets re-filled without you noticing
- Drink tonic and claim it’s G&T – also, much cheaper!
- For God’s sake, eat! A good meal before a heavy drinking session makes a world of difference.
- Leave your card at home. Take enough cash for a sensible amount of drinks and to get home, then you can’t get carried away!
Merry (but not too much) Christmas!