If you are reading this and your mind immediately came to alcohol, then you came to the right place. Alcohol. It's everywhere you turn. Wine walks through communities, booze cruises, bar menus immediately brought to the table at every restaurant (even our local coffee shops serve alcohol!), cute signs hung in people's homes, t-shirts, mugs, and the commercials, oh the commercials! Check out this data:
"The monitored data contained 349,591 alcohol advertisement airings of 803 unique ads in 92 national TV channels, equaling 479 airings per day or 20 airings per hour."
Alcohol has become such a normal part of our every day lives that NOT drinking is seen as odd. Seriously, try being at a social gathering and telling people you don't drink. Watch the responses. I've gotten it all:
"Oh, how long were you an alcoholic?"
"Oh, are you taking some kind of medicine?"
"I'll go over to that table with my drink, I don't want to influence you."
"Ah, yikes, what happened?"
"Was the drinking why you and your first husband broke up?"
The real reason? I read this amazing book called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. When I read the insanely damaging effects of alcohol, I knew that if I kept drinking, I'd eventually develop the same health conditions I watched so many family members before me go through. I knew the time to stop had come. We weren't alcoholics, per se, but we sure enjoyed a nightly glass of wine or whiskey to end the day and went out a couple of nights a week to have a few drinks.
So, we (my husband and I) stopped.
We were so serious about stopping, we didn't even have alcohol at our wedding. Nope. Not a drop. No one really understood us, but that was a big step toward regaining our health and we were ready for it.
Maybe you are like us and just not really knowing why you actually drink. Or maybe you are beginning to see the devastating effects of alcohol in you health, your relationships or maybe even your career.
Whatever the reason, it can be done. I'm going to share our story. Your journey toward sober may be different. That's okay, the finish line is what counts.
We quit cold turkey. Like we woke up on a random Tuesday and my husband said, I don't want to drink anymore. I said, "okay but there's like a couple six packs in the fridge that I don't wanna waste. I'll take one for the team and finish those off." So, I'm about a week behind him and we are just past the 3 year mark in our sobriety.
It was not easy. I will not even joke about it! Everything we did circled around alcohol. A long bike ride ended at our favorite bar and grill and we celebrated with a cold beer. A great day ended in a celebratory drink and a bad day ended with a drink to help us relax. Dinner involved trying the bar's specialty drink. Going out with friends and family including drinks. It was like we forgot how to socialize without a drink.
Once we stopped, it was scary to look back and see how deep we were in the black hole of alcohol.
The hardest part was figuring out what to do without it. Really. We had to learn to have open conversations, sometimes hard conversations, without liquid courage. We had to face life's ups and downs with no elixir to help soften the blows. We had to figure out how to say congratulations to one another for an accomplishment without it including a bottle of whiskey (flowers and diamonds work just fine, btw). Even travel looked different. We often tried local breweries and distilleries. Nope. That's not on our bucket list anymore.
When we stopped, I went through withdrawals. I became pretty depressed, always exhausted. I didn't know I could be that tired for that long. I was trying to build a business and it just wasn't happening. My focus was terrible, anxiety high (my coping strategy was gone!) and I was just so dang irritable. Withdrawals. But then the smoke began to clear. We learned new things. We enjoyed food more. We worked on communication. We felt stronger. After a few months, we felt cleaner. Like the poison was being cleansed out of our organs. No more hangovers. We lost some weight. It took about 6 months until we were really sure that what we had done was a good decision. My skin looked better, fewer wrinkles. I enjoyed reading again.
But, 0ne thing we missed was variety. We are not big soda or juice drinkers, so water, tea and coffee were our go to and they just became very mundane. We missed the flavor and the fun of trying new things. We were convinced that alcohol did not serve our health so going back wasn't something we wanted. But we were bored.
We began to search for non-alcoholic options.
We found several we loved and I'm going to share them here.
Shrub This is my absolute favorite product! I buy mine right here in Wisconsin at Living Full Kombucha. Shrub is a fermented, non-alcoholic syrup made with apple cider vinegar, herbs, sugar, fruit, etc. It's amazing. Living Full Kombucha has the absolute best flavor combinations including Strawberry Black Pepper, Pineapple Jalapeno, Blueberry Ginger and Rhubarb Hibiscus.
Add about an ounce to a glass of sparkling water and the only thing you're missing is the hangover the next day. These shrubs are filled with robust flavor, not watered down so you get a refreshing drink that is actually good for you without the burn and side effects.
While we are talking about Living Full Kombucha, let's talk about kombucha. I think kombucha reminds me of a hard cider. It's a great substitution. It's bubbly and tart and, oh yeah, it's hella good for you! I buy my kombucha also at Living Full Kombucha and they offer 4 flavors: Witty (Grapefruit and Rosemary), Dreamer (Butterfly Tea Powder and Ginger), Boujee (Citrus and lemon with French Lavender) and Hip (Elderberry, Hibiscus, Rosehip and Sage).
I like my kombucha to have a lot of flavor infused, not just the fizz and sour. Their kombucha has it.
So, if you are local to Southeastern Wisconsin, check them out. If you are not local, check out shrubs and kombucha as a way to keep some variety and spice in your beverage repertoire at another brewer for now, but watch this company because once they start shipping, you need to get on their list!
Living Full Kombucha currently doesn't ship nationwide, but keep your eye on them. They are growing and everyone loves their products. Their lines at the farmer's markets get longer every week! The founder, Lydia Davis, even has a podcast. Check it out: https://livingfullkombucha.com/podcast/ Non-Alcoholic Beer So, before we jump in to some of the NA beers I like, let's talk a bit about how beer is made. Beer is brewed using hops. Hops are the flowers, or cones, of a plant called Humulus lupulus. Hops add “hoppy” smell, flavor, and bitterness to beer and help beer stay fresh. Hops belong to the Cannabinaceae family, which also happens to include Cannabis (hemp and marijuana). Hops are a good source of antioxidants, can help to relax you and can improve sleep, can aid in a myriad of illnesses and inflammation and hops contain polyphenols. Good stuff you probably never knew about beer! The great thing about them is that you can reap the benefits without the buzz. You can buy hops from many beer brewing supply stores or online. You can take those flowers, put them in a tea ball and make a tea! We actually have a cup before bed to relax. You can also try some of the non-alcoholic brews.
Some of our favorites are: HopWtr: You get all of the benefits of hops without the sugar, calories or alcohol. It has a real IPA taste that satisfies the cravings of a nice cold beer.
Lagunitas Hop Water: This was our first foray into a non alcoholic brew. In fact, we learned that many bars serve their bartenders hop water. This one is more like a sparkling tea to me. Light in flavor, super refreshing and a nice alternative when you are sick of water and soda. No calories, no sugar, no carbs and no gluten. Guinness 0: Even Guinness with it's chocolate, coffee, hoppy goodness is in the NA game. Give this dark and rich NA a try.
Even Bud Light, Heineken and Coors have great NA options. Liquor
Ritual Whiskey: Very rich, smoky flavor. Good to mix. My favorite is to pair with a Diet Ginger ale for a Kentucky Mule.
Seedlip Non Alcoholic Spirits: Herb infused. Not sure they sub for any specific liquor, in my opinion, however they make a great mixer for a tasty drink.
Spiritless Jalisco 55: A non-alcoholic tequila. No alcohol burn, perfect mixer. I really get that tequila taste with this one. Spiritless Kentucky 74: NA Bourbon. Smooth finish. No alcohol burn. One of the best I've had with oak, vanilla and caramel flavors. Really good choice!
I'll admit...I'm a bit partial to Spiritless. It's a female developed and owned company, not common in the alcohol biz AND they started the 2% for the Girls foundation. This is how they describe it on their website: "Through 2% for the Girls, we will donate up to 2% of Spiritless sales to nonprofits, programs and partnerships that foster entrepreneurialism, mentoring and leadership development among young women. This is the first of what we hope will be many ripple effects on the world."
The three of us wouldn’t be here without powerful female mentors, teachers and leaders in our corner. We’re darn proud to pay it forward."
I'm all about supporting companies like this!
Looking for some NA recipes? Check out their site for some great ones!
Yes, non-alcoholic (less than .5% alcohol) wine does exist and no, it's not just plain grape juice! It has great, wine flavor and healthy polyphenols! In fact, NA wine is made like any other wine but before bottling, the alcohol is mostly removed. Genius!
Surely: Pinot, Rose and Sauvignon Blanc are options with this company. They have high ratings and even off a satisfaction guarantee. It's also unique in that it has low sugar. Also, low calorie, gluten free and vegan. Ariel Vinyards: Two options with this vinyard...a cab and a chardonnay.
I've just listed a few options in each category. A simple search will yield many options. But, these will get you started!
If you want to make changes, it's possible to make them without giving up good times with friends and family. It's an adjustment, no doubt. But with time, communication and grace, you will get there.
As a business, that's what I do...help people make changes in their behaviors to improve their health. Let me know how I can support you in achieving your health goals.
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Here’s to you achieving your health goals this year!
(P.S. I would be thrilled to be on your team and I’m currently offering 32% off Elevate, my most comprehensive coaching program.)
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Disclaimer: While I'm very knowledgeable, I am not a licensed therapist or physician and don't pretend to be. I will never diagnose you or ask to you stop taking a medication, that's between you and your physician. The best part about working together is that YOU are in charge of your health and YOU make your own health decisions. These results are not indicative of every client's experience, of course. Results will vary as every human has their own biological make-up. So I will never make false promises. My promise to you is to be honest, ethical, supportive, informative and I will be there, present as you travel your own health journey.
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