For heart’s sake, keep it at moderate

With reports emerging of trends indicating increased alcohol consumption as we continue to battle through the COVID-19 crisis, the Heart Foundation is reminding Australians, particularly those with heart conditions, to keep an eye on their alcohol intake.

With virtual happy hours and ‘quarantinis’ becoming the new normal under COVID-19 restrictions, a new YouGov poll of more than 1000 Australians reveals one in five households has been buying extra alcohol during the pandemic.

Of those, 70 per cent say they are drinking more alcohol than usual, with a third drinking daily.

Heart Foundation Director of Healthy Strategy, Julie Ann Mitchell, says these findings highlight the need to maintain healthy drinking habits while staying in.

“It might be tempting to overindulge in alcohol during times of stress and uncertainty but it’s important to keep moderation in mind and to continue to look after your health,” she said.

Health outcomes of excessive alcohol consumption

Too much alcohol may put you at risk of heart disease and stroke, and can:

  • Increase your risk of high blood pressure.
  • Increase the levels of triglycerides in your blood.
  • Contribute to weight gain, which may lead to overweight and obesity.

“Alcohol can be a big source of extra kilojoules, so it’s a good to decide in advance how many drinks you will allow yourself at home and try to alternate your alcoholic drinks with mineral or soda water,” Ms Mitchell suggested.

Alcohol guidelines

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s new draft alcohol guidelines suggest healthy men and women drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day.

The previous weekly guideline was 14 standard drinks per week.

5 ways to curb your alcohol intake

The Heart Foundation suggest the following tips to cut back on the booze:

  • Alternate your alcoholic drinks with water or opt for a spritz by diluting your alcohol drinks with plain mineral water or soda water.
  • Use only half measures of spirits.
  • Choose low alcohol or light beer and wine.
  • When you are thirsty, drink water instead of alcohol. Keep a jug of water on the table with your meals.
  • Have alcohol-free days during the week to break the cycle of drinking alcohol every day.

“This is a challenging time, but it’s also an opportunity to explore positive ways to cope in the ‘new normal’, such as cooking healthy and hearty meals and finding new ways to keep fit and active at home,” Ms Mitchell said.