It’s easy to misremember how much alcohol you have drunk in any given week, in no small part because the more you to tend to drink the less likely you are to actually keep track of it. However, it’s not just big nights out that can make you blow past the 14 units a week maximum that is recommended by all the UK’s Chief Medical Officers. Having a couple drinks here and there can quickly add up and take you past that total.
TV presenter Adrian Chiles has revealed this week that it was only when he started tracking his drinking that he realised he had been regularly getting through as much as 80 units a week, or sometimes 100.
"I was just staggered what I was putting away,” Chiles told BBC Breakfast. “I don't really get drunk, I don't misbehave, I don't drink during the day, I don't drink alone, I don't particularly stay up late. I just drink something every day.”
If you look back on a week and tot up what you’ve drunk, it’s not hard to miss a few drinks here and there, or underestimate the size or strength of the drinks you’ve had. That’s why it’s worth using an app like Drinkaware (opens in new tab) and tracking your alcohol intake methodically for a week, because the results could well be surprising. Having a couple of drinks with dinner each night might seem like a trivial thing, but come the end of the week you could easily find that you’ve racked up 25-30 units without the slightest inkling that you’ve overshot the 14-unit guideline.
“Adrian Chiles’ admission of the role that alcohol has played in his life and his decision to examine alcohol’s effects on his health, wellbeing and relationships is to be applauded,” says Drinkaware spokesperson Ben Butler.
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“Research shows that he is not alone. An increasing number of men and women aged 45-64 are drinking alcohol in ways that put them at risk of developing serious health problems, such as liver disease, cancer or heart disease.”
If you drink every day, it’s almost impossible to keep to 14 units a week, because six pints of 4% beer or six 175ml glasses of 13% wine adds up to 14 units, so taking at least a couple of days off booze each week is the best way to keep your intake in hand.
“If you choose to drink, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days,” says Butler. “We would also encourage people to think about having several drink-free days a week to help them cut back and keep the risks low.”
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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