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YOUR GOOD HEALTH; ALCOHOL AWARENESS WEEK. ?

Byline: CRAIG McQUEEN

WE'RE all used to hearing warnings from health experts about the dangers of drinking too much. Whether it's a night out on the town or a night in with a few friends, it's easy to have a few more than you intended. But with so many of us enjoying having a drink on a regular basis, making sure you're not overdoing can often get pushed aside. This week is Alcohol Awareness Week, with people everywhere being encouraged to take on a series of seven challenges designed to help us enjoy drinking safely. Here, three volunteers try out some of the challenges and tell CRAIG McQUEEN how they got on.

CHRIS DAVIDSON

WEEKEND nights out are the major problem for the 36-year-old.

He keeps a clear head during the week as he runs his web and graphic design firm in Edinburgh - then really lets his hair down once it is over.

Chris said: "I drink far too much. I'll go out on Friday after work and stay until after hours. It is a binge after a hard week.

"In one go at the weekend, I could drink the amount you're supposed to have in a week.

Then I have Sunday to recover."

Chris has tried drinking water and low-alcohol beer to make his nights last longer.

He said: "Years ago, when these lagers first came out, they were pretty disgusting.

"But I tried a few brands during the week and was pleasantly surprised. It certainly wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.

"Buying a round one night, I bought everyone low-alcohol beer and them put it glasses.

"I only told them what they were drinking later, and they said they didn't notice the difference.

"That opened my eyes a little - and it helps when your head's not thumping the next day."

On the Saturday night, Chris drank water in a restaurant.

He said: "It made a heck of a difference. I often drink my beer too fast, especially if I'm eating something spicy, so going for water instead kept me fresh later on in the evening.

"I think I'll do that in the future, so it's certainly been worthwhile.

"The low-alcohol lagers were good, too, as it meant you could have a drink without drinking too heavily.

"I'll now see if the other ideas work as well."

SHAYNE BRODIE

MUM-of-two Shayne Brodie admits to not keeping track of how much she drinks.

The receptionist, 51, from Edinburgh enjoys the odd glass of wine in the evenings, but says she can have more when with friends.

She said: "At weekends I can drink more than I should.

The problem is I don't have a clue about alcohol units.

"Most of my friends drink about the same, and we've mentioned from time to time we should drink a bit less.

"Like every woman I want to keep healthy, and you've got to think about calories in drinks and alcohol levels.

Shayne decided to make sure she ate something before drinking, and to make sure she had two alcohol-free days during the week.

She said: "On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I didn't have anything to drink.

On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch and had soft drinks.

"On Thursday I did have a glass of wine, but normally I have one before dinner at the end of the working day. This time I waited until after I'd had dinner so that I'd eaten first.

"And Friday is when I see friends. I had three quarters of a bottle of red wine, whereas I'd have a full bottle, and I made sure I'd eaten before they came round.

"I also put out cheese and crackers, and a jug of water.

"It helped as I felt better on Saturday morning."

Shayne had two glasses of wine on Saturday after her meal, and one gin and tonic on the Sunday. She thinks the exercise was worthwhile.

She added: "Thinking about it has been useful as I want to set a good example to my daughters."

ASHLEY MABON

THANKS to a busy social life, public relations executive Ashley Mabon is out for a drink on a regular basis.

The 27-year-old from Glasgow normally drinks wine, and knows how easy it is to end up drinking more than you might have intended.

She said: "I'm normally out at least one night during the week and on a Saturday night as well.

"It's normally wine I'm drinking, and these days when you're out it always seems to be 250ml glasses.

Before you know it, you're through the bottle and on to the next one.

"It's the same if you go to a friend's house as the wine just flows and flows, especially with the wine glasses you can buy getting bigger as well.

"I'm conscious of wines getting stronger too, so it's something to be wary of."

Over the course of a week, Ashley decided to try drinking smaller glasses of wine and also to make sure that she was drinking responsibly.

She said: "It was good timing as I'd entered a 10k which I was running at the end of the week, so I focused on that.

"I met a contact on Tuesday after work and opted for just a small glass of wine before moving to soft drinks, and on Wednesday I was at a work event where wine is always provided but I opted for soft drinks again.

"Then on Friday I met a friend I'd normally really let my hair down with, but I was very good and had three small glasses of wine, and I was home by 9pm.

"I didn't go out on Saturday either as I had the run on Sunday morning.

"So I really noticed the difference.

My weekend felt a lot longer because I could make the most of it."

In total, she drank six units over the seven days. She said: "It's well under what I'd usually drink, as normally I wouldn't keep track, but this made me quite aware of what I was drinking."

ALCOHOL AWARENESS WEEK CHALLENGES

Have some food before you drink. Drink plenty of water to make your night last longer.

Get more out of your weekend by making sure you drink responsibly. Go for a smaller glass for a change.

Try a lower alcohol beer for a change.To get a better idea of what you're drinking, keep a drinking diary. Choose at least two alcohol-free days per week.

CAPTION(S):

WEEKEND BINGER: Chris; CHANGE: Shayne; BUSY SCHEDULE: PR girl Ashley PIC: CRAWFORDBROWN
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 9, 2008
Words:1094
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