Published by Jeremy. Last Updated at January 9, 2024.
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We love a good libation, we're not going to lie. From beer to wine and craft cocktails, we enjoy them all.
But we also respect that alcohol needs to be consumed in moderation, and each year, we participate in dry(ish) January to give ourselves a bit of a detox and get a refresh on drinking for the new year.
Over the years of periodic abstention, we've learned a thing or two about our motivations for doing it completely, and that has given us direction on the best way to get the most out of our month without alcohol.
So in this one, we thought we'd break down popular reasons for switching to non-alcoholic drinks and then give some questions to ask yourself to help you better figure out the best kind of NA products for you!
Note: We are not medical professionals. This article is not intended to be medical advice- only to help you ask important questions before switching to non-alcoholic products as there are a number of factors out there to consider. If you are concerned with the health effects of drinking, addiction, or withdrawals, talk to your doctor- blogs are not the best source of this information.
Popular Reasons for Switching to Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Before switching to non-alcoholic drinks, it is always important to take a moment and identify why you are making the switch. Your reasons may steer you toward one product or another or to make other habit changes as well.
Popular reasons for switching to non-alcoholic products include:
- Abstaining from alcohol
- Enjoying comparable flavors without intoxicating side effects (e.g. before driving)
- Reducing calorie consumption
- Other tangential health benefits
- Saving money
- …and more!
There really is no wrong reason for why you may want to switch to drinking non-alcoholic beverages (or simply adding them into your life as a substitute for alcohol).
That said, we think it is important to identify your major reason(s) for this decision upfront because it is important to remember when asking yourself the important questions that follow.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Switching to NA Products
Ultimately, there are a few big questions you would want to ask yourself before buying any non-alcoholic beverage.
The first has to do with your tastes. Do you like wine, beer, spirits, or something else entirely? Your choice of beverage is ultimately going to depend on you. We're not going to recommend hopped water to someone who hates bitter and loves a sweet cocktail, just like we're not going to recommend sweet, non-alcoholic wine to someone who only prefers bold, mostly dry cocktails.
This one is, naturally, the easiest question to answer- what do you want out of your non-alcoholic drink? This could steer you in one direction over another.
But this is also important to identify because it should help facilitate a conversation with staff at a bottle shop. If you don't like sugar, for example, you'll need to steer away from wine bottles that add sugar to replace the lost body that alcohol normally provides (a common practice).
As such, knowing your tastes, both in terms of product types and flavor/style profiles, is excellent to have at the ready before shopping.
The second would be to define your reasoning for getting a non-alcoholic product to begin with. Are you trying to cut out alcohol because it is an intoxicant or has negative health effects? Because it is caloric? Both? Something else entirely?
This is an important question only because it may steer you towards (or away from) specific categories.
For those looking to reduce calories, for example, it is worth noting that a can of beer may be 150-200 calories, whereas a non-alcoholic equivalent may be more like 50-100. Reducing calories is never a bad thing, but if you are still drinking several cans per day and your caloric intake is your primary concern, you're still consuming a not-insignificant number of calories with some products.
The same logic is true for non-alcoholic wine and spirits- all of these products still have carbs, calories, and sugar, but just less so than their alcohol-rich counterparts (often to the tune of 50%-80%+). For those looking at products from a calorie concern, leaning towards products like flavored or hopped sparkling waters or teas, even for part of the time, could be a better option for similar flavors but at zero, or close to it, calories.
- Math time: There are about 3,500 calories in a pound. Most beer, cocktails, and servings of wine have about 150-200+ calories. Going from two drinks a day to zero may help you lose about three pounds in a month. Going from two drinks a day to two non-alcoholic drinks per day may cut that in half (if that). Calories are still calories, after all!
To help offset calorie consumption, we picked up a sparkling water maker and bags of lemons and limes. This one helps a lot when we want a bit of flavor and to avoid caloric beverages- an ounce of lime or lemon juice is under 10 calories!
Likewise, if kicking alcohol completely is your goal, you may want to keep in mind that some dealcoholized products will still have nominal amounts of alcohol in it (often <0.5%). Although this is not much compared to traditional products, some consumers may find it important to check.
The final question may be the hardest to answer- are you addicted? Are you drinking because you feel like you should be drinking and not because of another reason previously discussed? Be careful when answering this one because you can very much be addicted even if you don't drink to get drunk.
We're not medical professionals and do not pretend to be in the slightest, but we are all too familiar with that internal desire to enjoy a libation after the end of a stressful day. It doesn't take much for “argh, work was terrible, I need a beer” to become a daily habit, and here we have a simple concern that swapping out to a non-alcoholic alternative may not get to the root of the issue in some cases.
For those who are dependent on alcohol, yes, cutting out alcohol is likely a good thing. But if you are engaging in the habit of “drinking” to satisfy another urge or compulsion, simply switching to an alcohol-free equivalent may not get to the root of your problem.
This is a concern for those who only abstain for a limited period, like a Dry January or Sober September scenario. Switching from three alcoholic beers a day to three non-alcoholic beers a day may not do much to minimize your consumption once your period of abstaining ends- it will be far too easy to go back to the three alcoholic beers like nothing ever happened.
As such, if you think you may fall into this case, you may need to add a few other rules to your plan when switching to non-alcoholic products. Reduce the frequency that you drink non-alcoholic products, drink more water (or flavored water) to compensate, and, for some, consider avoiding flavors similar to your traditional consumption of choice outright.
You're making new habits, and part of that is getting over the old ones- whatever they may be. That, unfortunately, is up to you to identify if you will make a change.
- If you feel like you have any dependency/addiction, please speak to your doctor. Bloggers should not be the source of the information you seek here.
Overall, no matter why you are switching to non-alcoholic products, rest assured there are several great products out there for your tastes and interests- and they're getting better every year.
Just be careful to dig deeper into the reasons why you are switching to non-alcoholic products in the first place, and adjust your habits accordingly- especially if your foray into the NA world is only temporary!
Have you switched over to non-alcoholic drinks, even temporarily? What did you do to help make the change? Comment below to share!