Drinking Less: How to Drink Alcohol Less and Enjoy it More
Drinking alcohol can become a habit you don't think very much about until one day, you find it's becoming a problem – either you're spending too much money, waking up feeling poorly, or not enjoying yourself anymore.
There are many ways to train yourself to drink less, but the easiest way to stop drinking is like any intentional change of habits. Change is more sustainable when you ensure you'll enjoy the routine change as much, if not more, than the old way.
In other words, don't just ask how to drink less alcohol. Ask how to enjoy alcohol more while consuming less of it.
Tip #1 for Drinking Less: Drink What You Enjoy
Our number one tip might sound counterintuitive – if something's tasty, won't you consume more of it?
But focusing on beverages you enjoy will mean that you can take the time to savor every sip. Instead of bolting down something barely tolerable to get to the buzz, you can enjoy the entire experience.
The upside to drinking what you enjoy is to stop swallowing what you don't. Many people resist "wasting alcohol" by throwing out something they dislike.
If you've never found an alcoholic beverage you like, here's the fun part – you get to experiment and find out! Your commitment to drinking less will also mean you can splurge a little on higher-quality drinks that tend to taste better anyway.
While you can (and should) keep specific goals in mind, like drinking less-sugary beverages if you're trying to minimize your hangover, don't get too caught up in trying to drink the "right" kind of alcohol. Focus on finding what you love!
For example, you may hear that red wine is good for your heart, but if you hate red wine, that won't be a sustainable change.
Tip #2 for How to Train Yourself to Drink Less: Be Mindful
Mindfulness isn't just for meditating – any activity can be performed mindfully if you're doing it intentionally, paying attention to your experience, and noticing the quality of your experience.
Part of mindful drinking is savoring the experience, so finding something that hits your taste buds right is essential. Set yourself up for success by choosing to drink in places and with people you can also savor.
Another part of mindful drinking is practicing mindfulness between drinks. In other words, don't automatically order another drink right away. Alternate with something non-alcoholic and gauge whether you want another sip.
Many people seek information on how to train themselves to drink less because they're getting negative feedback on their level of intoxication or their behavior when drinking.
If you're concerned about this, make it a deliberate part of your mindfulness routine. Over time, try to figure out what level of alcohol consumption allows you to maintain control over your social graces – and aim to preserve that experience. Wait to order more alcohol until you're starting to lose your perfect buzz and not before. If you continue drinking too early, your level of intoxication will only increase.
Tip #3 for Drinking Less: Use a Smaller Glass
Not every drink can be an elevated, mindful experience, and that's okay – sometimes you need practical tips to keep yourself from drinking too much on accident.
Using a smaller glass is one of those practicalities backed by science. A 2013 study from Iowa State and Cornell universities found that you pour 12% more alcohol into a giant glass than a smaller one, even if you don't realize it.
Tip #4 for Drinking Less Alcohol: Keep Track
If you struggle to remember or control how much you've consumed, keeping count and writing that number down can be helpful to track it over time.
You can do this with a paper notebook or a calendar – whatever works. But if your consumption varies between wine, beer, and liquor, using a mobile app to track "standard drinks" can be helpful. That way, you're comparing apples to apples over time.
Tip #5 to Stop Drinking as Much: Quit Keeping Alcohol at Home
Shifting your habits away from drinking at home can be suitable for a few reasons. The big one is that needing to go to a bar or restaurant to consume will automatically reduce your consumption overall. You'll drink fewer days per week and fewer drinks per day.
The increased expense of drinks out (compared to at-home options) will also curb your drinking over time.
Another reason this is a good strategy is peer pressure – at home, you're more likely to drink or be around people who are not paying attention to your level of consumption. Out with friends or even hanging out with the bartender, you have someone else that's paying attention. Even if they don't say anything, it can help you keep yourself in check.
Finally, a lot of people who drink at home use alcohol as a way to start unwinding from their day, but this is unhealthy for a lot of reasons. You're less likely to be mindful or to savor the experience if you start when you're stressed out, and there are better ways to unplug at the end of the day.
Drinking Responsibly is Something You Learn
Responsible consumption of alcohol is something you learn, whether it's by example or through a formal training experience. It's not a skill you're born with.
TIPS offers responsible beverage training for sellers and servers but for consumers as well. Our university course can teach young adults (and anyone else who needs it) how to assess and manage risks related to alcohol consumption.