Lightweights Anonymous

Slow down ... how to counteract the binge-drinking culture.
Slow down ... how to counteract the binge-drinking culture.

I can't drink for Australia, even if it is Australia Day tomorrow. I envy those people who can knock back drink after drink for hours on end but only get a bit jolly, ready to wake up bright and early the next morning to sprint along the beach. I only need one drink to be busting out 80s dance moves. Any more than that and I am in a world of pain, closeted in darkness like a vampire the next day.

And I'm not alone. We live in a binge drinking culture and there's always a lightweight casualty or two - the tiny Irish guy who has drunk his body weight in whisky and strips off in the bar. The ranting older man who introduces himself to a table of young girls and won't leave. The young girls slurring and crying in the toilets... yes, I have been there. Fact of the matter is, not everyone has the constitution to keep up in a society addicted to inebriation. And that's OK - it's OK to be a lightweight.

Being drunk seems like such a good idea at the time, but I absolutely hate it. Being slightly tipsy is awesome, I agree, but sticking to that level is like walking a tightrope... which I have successfully learned to do, after years of practice (stay on the sober side, not walk a tightrope).

How to walk the fine line

You need strategies - alcohol is everywhere and your mates are so "generous" with shouting another round.

1. Let go of wanting to get smashed.

Just let it go. You know why.

2. Eat first

Save yourself cash, inebriation and calories by eating healthily at home before you go out and not grabbing a kebab at the end of the night.

3. Don't drink so much

Have one drink per hour (you remember the RTA man).

4. Don't go by rounds

Go by how you feel. If you're on a nice buzz, stay with that, and when your constitutionally blessed friends go to the bar, ask for a water and not "nothing" so you don't get the third degree. Ok you will still get the third degree. Combat with "I don't know what I feel like, I might go up in a sec." If you're drinking wine, don't let waiters or friends top up your glass. Finish what you have first.

5. Drink nicer wines, spirits or beers.

If you learn to appreciate the finer things, you'll be far less interested in guzzling them.

6. Don't drink to feel better, drink to feel even better.

As alcohol is a depressant, it won't cheer you up at the end of the day. Go out tomorrow and have pizza and a DVD tonight.

7. Stay hydrated.

Drink water as you go, or drink your white wine with soda water as a spritzer. If you have hit it a little hard, rehydrate with coconut water, gastrolyte or hydrolyte before bed.

Low alcohol drink suggestions


Ask your bar tender which cocktails are lowest in alcohol. It's easy to make your own low alcohol cocktails, like a fruity sangria, or a healthy and hydrating Pina Colada with real coconut water, fresh pineapple juice and Bacardi.


Light beers are lighter on alcohol, with less than 3%. 4% and upwards is normal.


13 per cent alcohol is normal, so look for lower. Most cool climate varieties are lower in alcohol. Some reds are higher, such as Barossa reds, because they're warm climate wines and the grapes ripen quicker and produce more alcohol. Lighter styles such as white wines, Moscato, Rose and lighter reds are lower in alcohol. Most French wines are around 12 per cent. Italian Pinot Grigio is delicious and also light in alcohol. Early picked grapes produce lower alcohol and lower calorie wines, but they are also less complex in flavour. They're fine for summer drinking. Look for Lindermans Early Harvest, McWIlliams Balance (Weight Watchers Approved), Preece, Trentham Estate Two Thirds, Nine Below, Brown Brothers Moscato and Omni Light Sparklings.

This story Lightweights Anonymous first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.