If you’ve decided it’s time to lose a few kilos and improve your health, you may also decide it’s time to give up alcohol, take a break or reduce the amount you drink. This is fantastic news for your health, bank balance and a host of other areas of your life. But when it comes to habits, you can’t just remove one without filling the void. You’ll need to replace your drinking with a healthier habit (such as non-alcoholic drinks), otherwise you’re likely to fall back into your former drinking ways.
One area where people struggle is deciding what to hold in their hand when they’ve usually got a beer, glass of wine or some other alcoholic drink. Whether it’s at the pub, a house party, wedding, or just sitting in front of the TV after dinner, if you’ve usually got a drink in your hands at this time you can feel somewhat naked if it’s taken away.
So what do you replace the alcoholic drink with during those moments? It should be easy to replace your booze with non-alcoholic drinks, but people genuinely struggle. They’re so used to drinking alcohol that finding a non-alcoholic replacement is like learning calculus for the first time. So I’ve decided to try and make the decision a little easier by offering six non-alcoholic drinks options, and I’m not talking about elaborate, hard-to-make, mocktails or some other concoction. The following suggestions are easy to make at home, or out and about at any event.
Carbonated water (mineral water)
Let’s face it, water is pretty boring for most people, especially those who like their drinks with a little more kick. If your booze of choice has bubbles, then replacing it with another bubbly drink makes sense (unless that other drink is something like Coke, then it’s seriously stupid). As such, carbonated mineral water is a natural progression from boring old water for those who want to replace their alcoholic drinks with something healthy. I bought a SodaStream and it gets a serious workout every day. Even my son Jack loves his sparkling water, downing at least 5-6 cups every day. If you need to add some flavour, there are plenty of sugar-free, all-natural flavourings on the market. Just hunt them down from your local health food store or online equivalent.
In a bar, a mineral water with a wedge of lemon or lime looks like an alcoholic drink, potentially keeping some people from interrogating you as to why you’re not drinking. I don’t recommend you lie to people and say you are drinking, but a little slight of hand deception doesn’t hurt!
When I was growing up, I used to drink around two litres of milk every day. I just love the stuff, so drinking milk is easy for me. The variety of milk you drink, i.e. full-cream, lite, fat-free, etc., is up to you. But I do recommend that you compare the nutritional information on the carton for yourself, as sometimes that lite version may have more sugar than the full-cream version. If cow’s milk isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other milk varieties, i.e. almond, rice, coconut, oat, soy, goat, etc. Before actually trying it, I used to think almond milk was disgusting. Then I actually gave it a go and kicked myself for not discovering it sooner.
And just like carbonated water, if you need to add a little flavour, hunt down an all-natural sugar-free topping from your local or online health food store.
Fruit juice and fruit smoothies
A well-made fruit smoothie or a freshly squeezed juice is like nothing else, they taste like heaven in your mouth. Blending up a combination of your favourite fruits for a refreshing drink can be one of the highlights of your day. It may take a little experimentation, but once you’ve got your fruit smoothie mix just right, there will be no looking back. Just one word of warning, fruit is packed full of natural sugars, some more so than others, so I wouldn’t recommend you knock them back like beers at a frat party. Keep it down to one a day to ensure the belt line doesn’t head in the wrong direction! And don’t go separating the pulp from the juice. That pulp is vitally important as it’s packed full of fibre and other vitamins and minerals.
The world of tea isn’t limited to the milky, sugary, English breakfast style your grandmother has drunk all her life. There are literally thousands of different styles, and there is no doubt there’s one out there with your name on it. Kambucha is the latest tea variety in the spotlight for various health benefits, but there aren’t too many teas that are bad for you. Perhaps instead of cracking open a lager in front of the TV after dinner every night, your new thing could be trying a different tea instead. Sure it doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s got to be better than cirrhosis of the liver or throat cancer, right?
I live in Melbourne, and drinking coffee is literally a way of life here. If you’re a Melburnian then you drink coffee, there are no two ways about it. And if you move to Melbourne, you soon fall into the local coffee culture. I, of course, am an anomaly in Melbourne, I don’t drink alcohol or coffee. In fact, I hate it! If you thought being a non-drinker drew curious looks, being a non-coffee drinker in this town leaves the locals even more bewildered. However, I totally understand why people love coffee, and while it won’t get you drunk, a couple of strong coffees will certainly give you a buzz for a while.
Non-alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine
Sure it won’t taste much like beer or wine, but it might be the transition drink you have between giving up alcohol and finding another habit to fill the void. I’ve never had any myself, but a friend of mine drinks non-alcoholic beer and swears it’s a good enough substitute to keep him from drinking the real thing. It’s also a great option if you’re at a bar and want to keep your teetotaling to yourself. They should have non-alcoholic options and the bar staff will pour your beer into a glass for you so no-one sees the bottle and the brand.
Of course, this is a list of the most obvious replacement non-alcoholic drinks you could think of, but why not pick one or two and give them a try? Some of these drinks aren’t going to be appropriate at times, after all, most people are hardly going to sip on a cappuccino at a nightclub. And I’ve deliberately left a few off the list, like any sort of energy drink or sugary fizzy drink, because your health will be seriously compromised if these became a daily staple of your life. The point is, be strong, put the booze away and get a healthy alternative in your hand instead.
If you’ve got a non-alcoholic drinks suggestions, leave them in the comments section below for everyone else to take advantage of.