Updated alcohol guidelines

Thursday, 10 December 2020

The latest evidence-based guidelines on the number of alcoholic drinks you can have in a week are out.

The guidelines

  • Healthy men and women

To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury for healthy men and women, drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people not drinking at all is the safest option.

  • Children and young people

To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

To reduce the risk of harm to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.

For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.

Note that a standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. Many drinks have more than one standard drink in them so check the label on your bottle or container to see how many standard drinks are in it.


Alcohol and diabetes

I don’t want to be a party pooper but if you have health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver problems or kidney disease you don’t fall under the category ‘healthy men and women’ and you may be better off choosing not to drink alcohol at all.

If you do decide to drink alcohol follow the guidelines, set yourself a drinks limit and stick to it, make sure you drink water or a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic drinks, eat before you start drinking, and make sure you have a sober driver.

If you take insulin you are at higher risk of having a hypo (low glucose event) many hours after drinking alcohol so take some precautions to manage your hypo risk as well. Make sure you eat plenty of carbohydrate, regularly check blood glucose levels and ensure one or more of your friends knows the signs and symptoms as well as how to treat a hypo, just in case you aren’t able to.


By Dale Cooke, Accredited Practising Dietitian

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