Alcohol: myths and misconceptions

Many of us like to relax with a drink but can we separate fact from fiction when it comes to alcohol? Let’s look at a few of the most common myths and misconceptions. 

Myth: Alcohol has no calories 

It’s easy to forget that alcohol has calories. With no legal requirement to show nutritional information on packaging, you might clock the number of alcohol units but not the calories. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. 

Take these examples: a typical glass of wine has 160 calories and a pint of cider has 216 calories. You can see how the calories can quickly stack up and if you’re trying to keep an eye on your weight then it’s a good idea to take note. 

We’re not saying you can’t drink alcohol, just be more mindful with your choices. Spirits are typically lower in calories than cider and beer. A (single) vodka and diet cola is around 55 calories, and a gin and tonic is around 100 calories. If you really can’t go past lager or cocktails then alternate your drinks with water. You’ll cut the calories and thank yourself the morning after. 

Misconception: I can handle my drink, so I don’t need to worry about how much I’m drinking 

If you’re a regular drinker, you probably don’t experience debilitating hangovers or feeling out of control on a night out. That doesn’t mean alcohol isn’t having an effect on you and your health though.  

From your first sip, alcohol starts to affect your judgement, and as the levels of alcohol in your blood increase, your blood pressure will increase, you’ll struggle to concentrate and your perceptions will be altered.  

Misconception: Alcohol makes me more outgoing and confident 

Does alcohol bring you out of your shell? You’re not alone. There’s a reason it’s called a social lubricant. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and masks those uncomfortable, awkward feelings you might normally have in a social situation. 

There are ways to become more confident without alcohol though. Ever hear the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’? It’s not easy at first but consistently facing up to your fears in everyday life is the secret to confidence without the alcohol. So talk to the people you’ve just met, throw your opinion into the mix when in a group and you might just find that you had the confidence all along. 

Myth: Alcohol is good for you 

You’ve likely seen the news articles. Some alcohol is actually good for you. Red wine has health benefits. Before you pop the cork, let’s look a little closer. 

It’s thought that red wine has more antioxidants than other drinks. If this is the case then that’s great as we need antioxidants to help to protect our cells against ‘free radicals’. Research varies though, with some studies suggesting red wine isn’t as beneficial as we thought.  

You can get antioxidants from eating a healthy and varied diet so don’t be tempted to give yourself a free pass to drink based on an article you read in the Sunday papers. Weigh up the arguments yourself and make a healthy choice.