Health & Wellness

Keep holiday drinking in check with these tips from Dr. Oz

The holiday season is upon us, and that means celebrating with families and friends. It’s also the time of year when we may push our limits when it comes to delicious cocktails and glasses of bubbly. But it’s important to keep our holiday drinking under control.

Dr. Mehmet Oz stopped by TODAY on Thursday to remind us how, and to encourage parents to discuss drugs and the problem of addiction with their children during tonight’s National Night of Conversation.

How much alcohol is too much?

The maximum amount of alcohol per week is about seven drinks for women and 14 for men, Oz said, explaining that the number is lower for women because they lack an enzyme in the stomach that prevents the alcohol from metabolizing.

In a given day, women should consume no more than three drinks; men should have no more than four.

“If you get more than that, that’s called binge drinking,” Oz said.

What’s a serving size?

If you’re used to filling your wine glass to the very top, think again.

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Do you know how much wine or beer equals one serving?

The serving size matters. It is: 12 ounces for beer, 8 ounces for malt beer, 5 ounces for wine, 1.5 ounces for hard alcohol.

“Do the math,” Oz said. “You’re allowed to have, for women, seven of these in a week, men 14 of these in a week, which is a reasonable amount to have.”

“If you do more than, for a woman’s case, three of these in a day, I’m concerned,” Oz said.

Enjoy parties safely

Ask the host what’s in the punch.

“The punch is really a problem because you don’t know how much alcohol is in there,” Oz said. “If there’s a lot of alcohol, that changes how many you can have in an evening.”

Alternate alcoholic drinks with water, which will help you slow down your drinking and avoid the morning-after hangover.

He also recommends tracking your drinking by keeping a log.

“If you’re not sure, write it down,” Oz said. “That way you’ll know for sure.”

What is problem drinking?

Millions of Americans are problem drinkers. How do you know if that’s you?

“If you’re worried about your drinking, you’re a problem drinker,” Oz said. “Because people who don’t have drinking problems don’t worry about their drinking.”

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Millions of Americans are considered problem drinkers.

Keeping the lines of communication open is very important for problem drinkers, he said.

Night of National Conversation

Tonight’s effort, the National Night of Conversation, is aimed at raising awareness about addiction, which Oz said is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

At the dinner table tonight, he wants parents to ask kids the simple questions: “‘How are you coping with life?’ and ‘Are you using alcohol or drugs to do that?’”

Oz asked Americans to post a photo on social media of an empty plate. “It’s simple to do, signifying that the meal is not about the food, it’s about the conversation,” he said.

“It’s the holidays, and in addition to enjoying beverages, you’ve got to talk to each other about it,” Oz said. “The society that we have, we’ve always been held together because we bond together and talk about stuff that matters. Let’s not ignore this at an especially precious time in our lives.”

TODAY.com contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam

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