Dinner only drinking

How having alcohol only with your evening meal can help you drink less, but enjoy it more.

Instead of grabbing a glass of wine or a beer as soon as you get through the door, why not wait for your evening meal to have your first drink? It's a great way to cut back on alcohol. And you may find that you appreciate what you do drink a whole lot more.

Feel the benefits

If you and your partner regularly get through a bottle of wine in a night then you're drinking above the government's lower risk guidelines. Half a bottle of wine can contain as much as 5.5 units, which is well over the guidelines for a man or a woman. Waiting until you eat to open that bottle can help you drink less and consume fewer calories as a result.

Drinking with food slows down the rate that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. You’re also likely to drink more slowly if you’re eating a meal at the same time. If you stop when you've finished eating it also allows your body more time to process the alcohol before you go to bed (it takes about an hour to process one unit of alcohol). This should help you to get a better night's sleep.

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Pairing wine and food

When you think of wine alongside your meal, you're likely to appreciate it more too.

Wine and food writer Natasha Hughes says: "In the same way that basil brings out the sweetness in tomatoes or horseradish adds piquancy to a slice of beef, some wines and some foods complement each other, adding to our enjoyment."

It's not just about flavours, but also about matching weight and intensity. "You don't want to swamp a delicate dover sole, for instance, with a big, robust oaked chardonnay – look for a gentler, more restrained wine," says Natasha.

Beer and soft drinks

A lot of beers taste better when drunk with food too. Try sharing a bottle of Belgian wheat beer with fish or an IPA with curry.

Of course, it's not just alcoholic drinks that can complement your dinner. Try experimenting with herbal teas and fresh fruit juices to match different dishes too.

Find out how many calories and units are in your favourite beers here...

Page updated: August 2014