2020 has not been a normal year. Sometime around late February/early March, things got dark, and suddenly we were in the middle of a global pandemic that is still raging. Many of us were forced to quarantine inside our homes, away from our jobs and coworkers, families and friends, avoiding restaurants and movies and concerts and sporting events (that were canceled anyway). We’ve spent spring and summer in a bizarre situation that we’re yet to fully emerge from, even as the school year is beginning the start. To make matters worse, the supply of beer has already been threatened and so have the aluminum cans that beer comes in.
Needless to say, the COVID-19 outbreak and all its attendant complications have caused an inordinate amount of stress, and no one is immune to that. Which is why many of us have been drinking a bit more than normal. We’ve been drinking to lessen the stress, and we’ve been drinking to fill the time because frankly there isn’t all that much else to do. And it’s easy to crack another beer or pour another glass of wine as Netflix barrels through to the next episode. It’s understandable and even helpful in some ways.
But it can be detrimental too. And according to a new study, it’s starting to take its toll.
Back in April, the Wall Street Journal published an article about increasing drinking during the pandemic, amid a 20-year rise in Americans’ drinking. Now, a federal committee is recommending we cut back.
According to NBC News, later this year the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans are being updated for the first time in five years, and they are now recommending no more than one drink a day for men. Since 1990, two drinks a day had been the suggestion, but as Americans drink more, that portion has been halved. And no, this doesn’t mean that skipping a few days means you can then add those drinks to your Friday night regimen!
“As a nation, our collective health would be better if people generally drank less,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, an alcohol researcher at Boston University who is on the committee making these recommendations, and to whom we say “duh!” But I’m not so sure that includes our mental health, especially during a pandemic.
These are extraordinary times, and honestly, it seems like bad timing for a report suggesting we drink less. But too much of anything is a bad thing, physically and mentally, and while it may be difficult to adhere to one drink a day guidelines during these unprecedented times, we probably should be paying attention to how much we’re drinking. Because eventually these unprecedented times will end, and when they do, it won’t be the best look to leave quarantine with an enormous beer belly.