Moderate Alcohol

Janis Hunter,
Home & Garden Information Center

The decision whether or not to drink alcoholic beverages is a personal choice, and abstention is an important option. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, follow these tips and drink responsibly and in moderation.

  • Satisfy your thirst with a nonalcoholic drink first. This should allow you to sip, not gulp, your alcoholic drinks.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Food slows the absorption of alcohol.
  • Set your drink limit ahead of time, preferably only one drink per day if you’re female and two per day if you’re male. The body can detoxify only about ½ ounce of alcohol per hour, or one standard size serving of beer, wine or distilled spirits (e.g. whisky, vodka, rum, bourbon, gin, brandy and liqueurs).
  • Slow your drinking pace at parties. Put your drink down and socialize more.
  • If you have more than one drink, enjoy a nonalcoholic drink between to give your body time to process the alcohol.
  • Drink “virgin” cocktails, using nonalcoholic mixers without the liquor.
  • When making mixed drinks, use a 1-ounce jigger rather than pouring distilled spirits directly from the bottle into the glass.
  • Dilute drinks with water, ice, club soda or juice and sip through a straw.
  • If you are the host, don’t feel that you must refresh your guests’ drinks.
  • Order nonalcoholic beer, low-alcohol beer or light wine.
  • In addition to wine or beer, have a glass of water with your meal.
  • Have bottled water or soft drinks on hand to insure that you have a nonalcoholic option at an event.

What is moderate drinking? Moderation is considered as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. This refers to the number of drinks consumed on any single day, not an average over several days. For most adults, this amount causes few, if any problems.

Here are some reasons that men are allowed two drinks a day and women only one.

  • Women become more impaired than men do after drinking the same amount of alcohol. There is a difference in men’s and women’s weight and size, as well as how their bodies process alcohol.
  • Alcohol is carried in the body’s fluids rather than in body fat. Women’s bodies contain less water than men’s bodies, which causes the same amount of alcohol to be more concentrated in the bloodstreams of women.
  • The enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol is less active in women.

Refer to HGIC 4055, Moderate Alcohol for information on standard serving sizes and caloric contents of certain alcoholic beverages, tips on cooking with alcohol, the effects of drinking alcohol on one’s health, and who should avoid alcohol. 

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