Cutting out alcohol doesn't need to limit your lifestyle. In fact, avoiding the hangovers and the tab from a big night out can bring many immediate benefits.
Choose a non-alcohol drink that feels like you’re drinking something special – a healthy mocktail or soda and lime.
Be clear on the reasons why you want to cut alcohol from your life so that you can explain it to those around you when asked.
Be mindful in situations when you would normally drink alcohol – often we choose a beer at the pub out of habit.
Be aware of triggers that have you reaching for a drink – a stressful day at work? Try going for a walk instead, a celebratory drink with friends? Treat yourself to a mocktail.
Tell your family and friends about your plans and ask them to support you or join a supportive community like Hello Sunday Morning which can help provide further tips.
If you do choose to drink:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones like sparkling or plain water (soda, lime and bitters is a great alternative to alcohol).
- Eat some food when you drink alcohol. Think of a glass of wine or beer as something to have with a meal rather than on its own.
- Dilute alcoholic drinks, for example, try a shandy (beer and lemonade) or white wine and mineral water.
- Choose a low-alcohol (or no-alcohol) beer and/or wine.
- Use water to quench your thirst and sip alcoholic drinks slowly.
- Offer to be the designated driver when you go out so you drink less, but make sure you stay under .05.
- Avoid binge drinking (a single occasion of heavy drinking over a short period of time).
- Have at least 1 or 2 alcohol-free days each week.
See some real-life stories of people who have cut back on alcohol.
What to drink instead of alcohol
- Lime and soda
Add a chunk of lime or a splash of lime cordial to your glass of soda water for a refreshing change. Fresh lime is best, but if you do prefer the cordial, limit yourself to no more than one-two teaspoons of cordial per glass of soda water.
This has become the new ‘it’ drink, just be sure to choose one with less than 5g sugar per 100ml.
- Berries in iced water
Cut up a handful of your preferred berries add still or sparkling mineral water and a few blocks of ice.
- Virgin Mojito
Without the rum a Mojito has about 35-40 calories and less than two spoons of sugar so this is a good choice
(A full strength one would have more than four times the calories)
- Elderberry cordial and sparkling mineral water
If you put in one to two teaspoons of cordial and add lime/ lemon/ orange to bring out the flavour you would only be having one or two teaspoons of sugar per glass (that’s 10-20% of the sugar in a soft drink).
- Berries in tonic water
Just make sure you choose a tonic water that’s low in sugar, or opt for the berries or lime in soda water or sparkling mineral water instead.
- Virgin bloody Mary
While this might be a little on the salty side, it’s a great way to add more serves of vegies to your diet and it has next to no calories (20% of a normal bloody Mary).
- Iced tea
Choose a home-made or low sugar commercial version. Commercially sold iced teas are often very high in sugar, meaning your choice, while non-alcoholic, is not a healthy one.
- Half soda/ half cranberry juice and muddled lime
Keeping the juice to less than half a glass cuts down the sugar content and gives you a healthy, tasty treat.
- Soda and fresh fruit
Mix fresh fruit with soda and a dash of fruit juice for a taste of summer.
Mocktails can be high in sugar, but why not treat yourself to one and then switch to lime and soda for the rest of the night. Try these recommendations from Dry July.
Tip: If you’re out on the town, look on the menu for varieties that use more fresh fruit juices (lemon/ lime/ orange) and less syrups
Is it okay to have ‘diet’ drinks instead?
- Although diet drink options do not contain the same level of kilojoules as sugar-sweetened versions, water or low-fat milk are healthier options.
- Diet soft drinks have been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. 15 , 16
- Diet versions of soft drinks are acidic and can also contribute to dental erosion 17 (wearing away of the tooth enamel).
Is it okay to have non-alcoholic beer instead?
- This can be a good alternative, especially if you are only having one or two, however just be aware that they can sometimes become a gateway to the alcoholic version for non-beer drinkers.
Check out the LiveLighter website for these and other healthy drink options.
Meet David, Kylie and Cassie and hear how they cut back to improve their health and as a result are living life more.