Five things you can do to cut your alcohol consumption

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The festive season is often a time of excess.

Then, in the new year, it can be followed by a resolve to seek a reduction in alcohol intake.

According to the alcohol and drugs partnership in the Scottish Borders, however, cutting down on drinking is not "just for January".

It points out that benefits can be far-reaching if undertaken on a more prolonged basis.

"Improved complexion, sleeping better and less headaches are some of the immediate effects you can notice from cutting down alcohol," it said.

"Over time, regularly drinking more than the recommended drinking levels will affect your appearance and general health.

"But it can also affect your job, your family and relationships."

And it is not, the organisation said, just a question of binge-drinking - as many people are exceeding recommended levels without even knowing it.

"Over time, this can affect your health, impact on your family and community," it said.

Here are five key pieces of advice on how to reduce consumption on an "ongoing basis".

Think about your glass size

Wine glasses

Sometimes slimmers switch to a smaller plate so they eat less.

Dropping a glass size uses the same principle for alcohol. Dropping a glass size is one of the easiest ways to cut back.

A large glass of wine can contain over three units of alcohol so opt for a smaller glass.

Remember also that home measures are usually a lot larger than a pub measure.

Keep the sensible drinking guidelines in mind

Soft drinks Have at least two alcohol-free days a week to give your body a break

Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days every week to give your body a break.

It is recommended that women should not drink more than two to three units per day (and no more than 14 units per week).

Men should not drink more than three to four units per day (and no more than 21 units per week).

Women's bodies react to alcohol in a different way to men's.

Women have on average 10% more fat than men, which means there is less body fluid to dilute alcohol, so it travels around women's bodies in more concentrated form and causes more harm.

Also women's livers produce less of the substance the body uses to break alcohol down.

This means not only do women get drunk quicker, but the effects last longer too.

Know the strength of your drink

Strength of alcohol varies dramatically so know how many units are in your drink and be aware of home measures.

Always eat a good meal before you start drinking, or enjoy some snacks while you drink

Pasta

This helps to slow down the effect of alcohol on your body.

Drink at your own pace and avoid rounds

If you are not ready for another drink then you can always opt for a soft drink or water.

This will help cut down the number of units you consume and avoid a hangover.

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