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How to Sip Smarter Over the Festive Season

According to Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink – and How They Can Regain Control, wine has become “normalised, expected and then reinforced by popular culture, social media, advertising. The volume and ubiquity of the pro-drinking message has made it infinitely more likely that even mothers who know it’s a caricature, will immediately think of pouring themselves a drink as a release valve once the children are in bed – and then do it.”

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with a drink at the end of the day, but it’s drinking responsibly that is key. With the festive season in full swing, we asked a handful of women for their philosophies on drinking. Here’s what they had to say…

Vanessa Clarkson, food and nutrition consultant and author

“I would generally I limit it to a couple of small glasses of wine over the weekend. Drinking is very social and it’s very easy for it to tip into something more frequent as a way of releasing tension that can build when looking after children. It’s not ideal for our health though, nor is it conducive for a good night’s sleep (which is so important when you have children), so I keep it to a minimum.”


Emily Keenan, co-founder of The Squad Co. 

“My philosophy is everything in moderation. One of my favourite things to do is enjoy good food and wine with family and friends. I exercise a lot so have a little more leeway with my food/drink lifestyle. I’m not one to ‘restrict’ anything but rather enjoy a wide variety of what we have on offer. I’ve just found for me personally that’s my way to be able to sustain a long-term happy and healthy lifestyle.

I’ve tried restricting things in the past and I just end up a cranky and bored person! My general rule is 80/20, so I’ll eat well and minimise alcohol during the week and then relax on weekends to enjoy what I feel like.

I do associate a wine with de-stressing and socialising with friends. My favourite time to have a drink is definitely the weekend. I love a champagne as it makes me feel festive but also love a good Rosè or Riesling on a summers evening or over a long lunch! After having kids, I have found I have turned to it more after a long day. Although I do find I don’t sleep as well after more than one drink, so if I know I need a good night’s sleep I definitely won’t have one.”


Phoebe Ghorayeb, blogger, writer and presenter

“I gave up alcohol about 7 years ago – I was 23 years old. It didn’t feel like a conscious decision, it just happened. It was a combination of not being much of a drinker anyway, not seeing value in spending my hard earned cash on alcohol and my husband not being a drinker himself. It seemed to happen very naturally and I can’t say I miss it.

In saying that, I’m not opposed to a celebratory glass of prosecco at a birthday or wedding. I don’t miss it but not because I have bad memories of when I used to drink, but because I don’t think it adds any value to my life now. I can socialise and go out with friends and I don’t think I have less fun or stamina than those who are drinking.

I feel as I’ve got older my friends are far less judgemental, if at all, about the fact that I chose not to drink. They would never pressure me or make me feel bad for my decision. I think this is different when you are younger but I am now much more sure of myself and my life choices and my friends and family respect me for that.”


Jacqui Lewis, Principal, The Broad Place

“Alcohol and our relationship to it, we can work within the same way in which we work with anything; our work, our partners, our egos, by asking, ‘am I approaching this in a conscious way? Is it upgrading my life?’. When we ask ourselves, ‘am I blocking anything, hiding anything, running from anything’ we can begin to understand our patterns and behaviours in relation to this.

This deeper questioning, this auditing, can then lead to greater clarity so we know what to increase and what to decrease. And then we stay curious, creative and we continually refine.

This means we can have a more conscious and active role in our relationship to alcohol, and not simply be acting out old patterns and behaviours, and be living life as our best selves.”


Talitha Cummins, television and radio journalist, keynote speaker & media consultant

“When you’re a high-functioning alcoholic, life looks fantastic from the outside. I had a great job in television, lived in a nice suburb, went on overseas holidays and was giving the general impression that I had my life together. But what people didn’t see was the inner turmoil I experienced on a daily basis.

I hated myself, I lived in shame at the constant embarrassment alcohol was bringing to my life and I was desperately unhappy – but because I hadn’t lost my home, or friends or job, I couldn’t comprehend alcohol was the problem. And that’s why denial looms large in the functioning alcoholic – your success works against you. It tricks you into thinking you have it all under control. But it catches up with you.

Alcohol brings confidence to those who lack it, fun to a boring situation and is a widely accepted social lubricant. Drinking typically begins in your teenage years and by the time you’re in your twenties and older I think most people come to rely on it as a social crutch out of habit.

For me, I was a shy and introverted young girl and it made me the person I wanted to be; confident, funny and the life of the party. I’d been drinking unsuccessfully for many years, but I was in complete denial alcohol was a problem for me because I was still holding down a career. It wasn’t until my chief of staff at the television network I worked at sat me down and confronted me that I realised my work facade had been shattered.

I had tried many times to stop drinking, but this time I knew things were serious. I’m an all or nothing person and I knew I had to stop completely. I went to AA that day and began a long period of recovery.

Life is so much better without alcohol! I am stable, content and have finally found happiness and confidence. I like myself and I am grateful for what I have. I have found an incredibly supportive husband who has helped me realise I’m a good person. I have a child and one on the way and my own business in media consultancy and speaking. I’d have none of this if I was still drinking.”


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