Hey ladies, do we drink too much?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Lately, there have been a slew of studies and articles in the media about women in their 30s and 40s drinking excessively. This has got me seriously questioning my own libation habits: Do I drink too much?

When 6 pm rolls around, I love to pour myself a glass of wine.  The odd time, I’ll have a martini or a margarita.  I may have another glass with dinner or while watching TV.  It’s a ritual that signals the end of the day, the time to relax.  It’s cliché, but it does take the “edge” off.  And frankly, I love the taste.

On average, I have 1 to 2 drinks a night.  One or two nights a week I have nothing. And on the weekends, I may have three, the odd time, four. I don’t like to feel drunk, and I really hate feeling hung over. *    

Consult any doctor or any healthy drinking guideline and they will tell you that “low-risk drinking” for men is no more than 4 drinks at a time, up to 14 drinks in a week.  For women, it’s a max of 3 drinks in a day, or 7 drinks a week.  

I took an informal poll recently.  By the above standard, 70% of the women I asked are “at-risk” drinkers.  Before you say birds of a feather, I polled colleagues and acquaintances too.  Maybe it’s just us city folk?

According to the World Health Organization, adults in the EU drink an average of three drinks a day.   Perhaps I need to relocate.

In the book “Her best kept secret: Why women drink and how they can regain control”, author Gabrielle Glaser writes that American women are drinking more than ever and in larger quantities.  She goes on to question whether AA is the best fit for female alcoholics.

I’m not an alcoholic.  Booze does not adversely affect my relationships, my work, or my life in any way.   But while researching this blog, I did go online and fill out an “are you an alcoholic” questionnaire.  Two questions irked me:

1) Do you drink alone?  Since forever, drinking socially has been okay while drinking alone is an “issue.” Well, I live alone, as do an increasing number of North Americans.  So wine with dinner is only okay if someone is sitting beside you? Please.  Plus, from what I’ve seen, drinking “socially” often spells getting plastered at parties.

2) Do you feel guilty about your drinking? Hell yes!  I feel guilty about forgetting to return a library book on time, let alone about having a drink.  That’s why I’m unburdening myself here.

So while I’m not worried about being an alcoholic, I am concerned about the long-term health repercussions of my regular alcohol consumption. 

Studies have long linked moderate drinking with cardiovascular health.  And I have always maintained that a glass of wine is better than a Valium.  But tip that moderate scale and you’re looking at a higher risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure and liver disease. (I’ve actually had my liver tested. All clear.)  Not to mention all those additional empty calories.

They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step.  Am I dependent on alcohol? Less so than coffee, I’m happy to report. But this buzz about booze has made an impression.  I am more mindful about how much I drink and about cutting back.**


* Yes, I take cabs.

** If you think I drink too much, thanks, I know that already.  If you drink about as much as I do, I’d love to hear from you.  I find comfort in numbers.




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  • twylaknull

    I’m all for having a couple of drinks after work,albeit having them at 8am after a night shift seems a bit weird some days. On the other hand,I have no problem NOT having one every day. I think a big difference is that you WANT that drink,you don’t NEED that drink.

  • fwjanis

    I have similar feelings about alcohol. Here are a few things I’ve noticed about my own habits. 1. sometimes I’m just thirsty at 6pm, and I mistake that for wanting alcohol. Perrier in a wine glass with a twist of lemon is a great first drink, gets me hydrated, then I almost always drink less wine afterwards. 2. on a recent weekend away with female friends (all in our 50s) I was surprised how much we drank. Seems like drinking slowly increases with age, so it’s good to be aware of it now 3. Like you, I really hate hangovers, so I try to keep this in mind and it usually trumps my desire for that extra drink.

  • Diane Ward

    I have doubts about the validity of these studies, especially when the information seems to change on a fairly regular basis. And isn’t this about what most things are about – moderation? I also have a drink alone when I’m making dinner, two to three times a week, and very rarely I’ll have more than one. But because I’m drinking alone I may be an alcoholic? So I should trot an army of strangers through my house to drink with instead – really?? Moderation is the key.

  • Marina

    I’m not a drinker, but I agree with you on those two questions. Just because you drink alone, doesn’t mean you have alcoholic tenancies. That is like saying if you eat alone you have an eating disorder, because most people who eat for comfort and have an actual addiction or whatever they call it now, will eat large quantities of food when no one is around.

    I think there is this silly stigma attached to alcohol here that is not present in Europe, that alcohol is a bad terrible thing. Everything can be a bad terrible thing. Everything, including carrots and tomatoes, if enjoyed in large quantities will have side effects. Moderation is the key to a healthy life, it just doesn’t seem to be something that the studies every say. And it is worth noting that in countries where drinking alcohol is seen as a normal, non-pathologized (is that a word? probably not…) activity, they have lower rates of alcoholism.

    Studies are stupid, drink up!

  • debra black

    I’ m Irish, I’ m allowed!

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      I’m Croatian, I think maybe they’re allowed too? 😉

  • mike simpson

    Ever figure you might be over thinking something you should not ?
    Ask yourself “How much happier am I with or without ?”
    I drink alone most times , I’m alone much like yourself , but that in and of it’s self
    is not the reason I drink . In my case , my work which requires a level of concentration equal to that of a rocket scientist in order to keep everyone alive has me unable to come down under my own hospice afterwards , therefor I drink (Beer) .
    Loooootttttssss of beer !
    I had a good friend , in the same business as myself that thought , or at least his wife thought , he was in excess so he stopped . Three years later as I visited him on his death bed in hospital (Cancer not relative to drinking) we talked about personal goals were we came from and most importantly , regrets.
    His only …… In hindsight , Could have been drinking the last three years and much happier !
    Read whatever you want into that but the whole “studies” thing I find to be trite and trivial to the point people may have to much time on there hands dude .

    Don’t sweat the petty shit
    Just pet the sweaty shit

    Crude but to the point . .

  • Laura Albert

    I’m not what I’d call a drinker but I’m not against having a glass of wine/Margarita/cooler on special occasions. (Nor am I against others who drink more/more often or alone.) I just was reminded by your post of Tonight’s the Night by Lorne Elliot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmngs8Yqvaw

  • Joan Lilley

    I would love to sit down with a glass of wine and watch your show, but I watch at 9am Sunday mornings…now that would be a problem…lol, cheers!

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Joan, that’s what PVRs are for! 🙂

  • Rach

    Great post and I appreciate your candour, Kristina. I drink as much as you do (and I also find comfort in numbers) and there is nothing I enjoy more than a glass of wine when I get home from work.

    ps – I enjoy your show and find it inspiring how you and Anna have taken your friendship and entrepreneurial spirit and built such a great brand/business.

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Thanks for your feedback Rach. I am actually trying to cut down a bit in the new year – feel like I need to recalibrate after the holidays!

  • Samantha Warren

    Kristina, I have asked myself the same question! I have very similar drinking habits as you do, except on weekends I keep it at 1-2 (if I go 3-4, I get hammered! haha) I often wonder if drinking most days, 1-2 drinks is too much. My doctor says because I drink red wine, it’s not too bad because of it’s antioxidants, but to keep it to once glass a day. I also use guilt as my guide! I know that when I go out with friends and have 4 drinks, the next day I feel soooo guilty! Almost embarrassed, and not because I’m acting silly, but because people “KNOW” I had too much. Odd, I know. Kristina, do you ever feel this way? Anyone else?

    • http://www.annaandkristina.com/ Kristina

      Hi Samantha, I don’t think most people can tell when I’ve had more than 2, because usually the people I’m with have had just as much! You shouldn’t feel bad to cut loose once in a while, most of us do it. That said, I have felt guilty before, not because I’m worried about what people will think but because I’ve disappointed myself by not stopping when I told myself I would. An ongoing battle!