5 tasty, healthy alternatives for enjoying social gatherings.
Alcohol takes away my clarity of mind. Which is precisely what I’ve been working on lately. That’s why even though I love beer and chilled Spritzes, not a drop of alcohol passes my lips anymore. It just wouldn’t make sense.
Except I found myself in a dilemma: I deeply enjoyed having apéro with my family or friends. The joy of sharing a moment of conviviality was just not the same if I was drinking… water. I had to find a substitute.
Alcohol is not an obligation, even if everyone around you is drinking it. Just because you don’t drink anymore doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy social occasions or romantic dinners. Welcome to the world of people who no longer need alcohol to have a good time. And who now have a choice of other delicious, healthy drinks that will make their evenings shine better than a beer or a shot of tequila.
We are worth more than a can of soda packed with sugar
If you’ve decided to ditch alcohol, it’s perhaps because you’ve discovered that the habit isn’t serving you, your well-being, and your health. So it wouldn’t make sense to turn to sodas and juices from concentrate. Besides, we’ve had better-tasting drinks.
Even though water is the only liquid we should be drinking, let’s be honest: that’s no fun. Life’s meant to be enjoyed, so we can make an exception.
Here are five pretty healthy alternatives to alcohol.
Kombucha is a fermented and naturally slightly fizzy drink made from black or green tea, with a slightly sour taste. Unlike many alternatives, it’s not sugar-based and has probiotic and antioxidant properties.
“It is largely classified as a functional beverage, meaning that it is a non-alcoholic drink that contains vitamins, amino acids or other nutrients associated with health benefits.” — Forbes
Even if you can’t find it everywhere, it’s becoming more and more popular, especially in bars and alternative cafés that offer healthier options. Be warned, however, that it often contains a small percentage of alcohol, due to the fermentation process used in its elaboration. Nothing that will give you the slight buzz though.
2. Coconut water
One of my all-time favorites. Where I am writing this, I can go to any place and order natural coconut water, presented in a young green coconut with a straw. It’s refreshing, naturally slightly sweet, and offers a wide range of health benefits. Plus, it really does feel like you’re in the tropics, on a deserted beach, under the shade of palm trees.
“It serves as an all-natural way to add minerals and key electrolytes like potassium and calcium to your diet, cut out sodium and keep you hydrated- all while being low in calories.” — LiveWellDorset
However, natural coconut water is not available everywhere. If you order the bottled version, make sure it’s not made from concentrate and does not contain added flavors, sweeteners, and chemicals.
3. Fancy sparkling water
It’s fizzy like most alcoholic drinks we used to love, but still healthy because what you put in it is often fruit, like lemon or lime. You can even add herbs:
“If you use seltzer water and add a strong flavor like citrus or herbs, you get a fancy drink with bite, in a glass, that mixes well in social situations.” — Kristin Koskinen, registered dietitian nutritionist, to NBC News.
Plus, it’s easy to make, and free of calories and sugar.
4. Natural cocktails
Liza Rowan, the founder of Health & Vitality and contributor for Connected Women, offers her alternatives to alcoholic cocktails and sugar-laden juices. Below are some of her recipes for fun and tasty cocktails to make at home, that are even better than the usual Mojito. All credits go to her.
- Water, coconut water, some natural fruit juice (e.g. freshly squeezed orange juice)
- Pre-soaked dried fruits (e.g. apricots) puréed with a little orange juice and soda water
- Banana or mango puréed with some fruit juice, coconut water, and sea salt
- Fresh strawberries puréed with water, coconut water, sea salt
All combinations are possible. Open the refrigerator and let your creativity flow.
5. Frozen smoothies
I’m in a “frozen smoothie” period. I even drink them sometimes for dessert or as a snack. It’s delicious and natural. And extremely simple to make.
Freeze some sliced fruits and mix them with other ingredients. For example, I love blending bananas, a teaspoon of peanut butter, water (or milk), and cocoa powder. For something lighter, mix pineapple, water, and ginger, or just watermelon and a little water.
The texture is thick and light at the same time, and very refreshing. It also works very well with vegetables.
Find out what you were seeking through alcohol
If you feel like non-alcoholic beverages are robbing you of the pleasures of social gatherings, it may be time to evaluate why you fancy that drink in the first place. If it’s the taste that appeals to you, you may want to consider wine or non-alcoholic beers. Microbreweries are increasingly jumping on this trend and creating tasty alternatives. Be aware, however, that some of them still contain up to 0.5% alcohol, which may not do the trick if you are looking for zero alcohol.
If it’s the social aspect and confidence that comes from holding a drink that you’re looking for, then even sparkling water can work for you.
If you find yourself surrounded by drunk people and getting caught up in it, you might want to consider surrounding yourself with people who are more in tune with your life choices.
And if it’s about having something fancy that’s out of the ordinary, find places in your town that have great mocktails or elaborate substitutes. Because if all you have to choose from is an endless menu of alcoholic beverages or a Coke, you’ll obviously have a hard time sticking to your new principles.
Our environment is key to changing our habits. Especially a habit so ingrained in social life, and life in general.
It is your choice. And it’s a great one. Hang in there!