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Embracing a Sober Start: A Guide to Dry January for the Sober Curious


a collection of artfully crafter mocktails.

Hey there, health enthusiasts and sober curious souls! It's January when we often find ourselves swept up in the whirlwind of resolutions and new beginnings. And if you're anything like me, you're probably looking for ways to reset after a season of festive indulgence. Enter Dry January.


Dry January isn't just about putting down the wine glass or skipping the beer; it's about embarking on a journey of self-care and wellness. It's about tuning into your body, listening to what it truly needs, and giving it a much-deserved break from alcohol. Think of it as a month-long experiment in wellness, an opportunity to see how your body and mind thrive without the buzz of booze.


Now, I know what you're thinking: "A whole month without my favorite drink? How will I survive social gatherings, unwind after a long day, or even enjoy a meal without a glass of something?" Trust me, I've been there. But here's the beautiful part – Dry January opens up a world of possibilities. It's a chance to discover alcohol-free alternatives that don't skimp on taste and embrace new ways to relax and celebrate.


In this article, I'm diving deep into the benefits of an alcohol-free life. I'll share some of the incredible health benefits of saying no to alcohol, even for just a month. And ladies, take note because alcohol has an even more significant impact on our hormones, sleep quality, and overall health. I'll also share some tried-and-tested tips to make your Dry January a roaring success, and – because I wouldn't leave you hanging – I've got some personal reviews of my favorite non-alcoholic beers, wines, and mocktails. Spoiler alert: they're delicious, so you get all the fun minus the hangover! So, whether you're a seasoned Dry January veteran or a sober curious newbie, let's get started!


Sober and Stronger: The Unexpected Health Gains

Alright, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. You're ready to give booze a break, but what exactly does this do for your health? Time to uncover the real gems of being a Sober Sally!


Loving Your Liver: The Detox Powerhouse

The liver plays a foundational role in our well-being as a critical agent in our body's detoxification process. When we consume alcohol, it's like throwing a wrench into that fine-tuned machine. The American Journal of Pathology highlighted that abstaining from alcohol significantly improves liver health (American Journal of Pathology, 2010). By taking a hiatus from alcohol, you're not just giving your liver a break; you are enabling it to focus on the essential functions of detoxification and protecting us from harm.


Radiant Skin, Naturally

Switching out your nightly cocktail for a non-alcoholic option can do wonders for your skin. Alcohol is a diuretic that zaps skin's moisture, leaving it dry and lackluster. By switching your nightcap, you'll see your skin getting glow back naturally.


Dreamy Sleep

We often mistake alcohol as a sleep aid, but in reality, it's quite the opposite. Alcohol disrupts our sleep patterns, robbing us of the deep, restorative slumber our bodies need. Research from Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research confirms this, showing that alcohol, particularly before sleep, significantly impacts the quality and duration of our rest. This is especially the case for women. (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013). Skipping the cocktail means waking up fully rested and energized.


A Special Note for Women

For us women, reducing alcohol has unique benefits. Our liver plays a crucial role in managing and detoxifying our hormones. Alcohol can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to a cascade of health issues. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute underscores this, noting that alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2009). By reducing alcohol, we can help maintain hormonal harmony and reduce risks related to hormonal imbalances.


6 Tips for a Successful Dry January

We covered the why, and now you know kicking the booze is good for your health, but how are you supposed to navigate a whole month without your favorite drink? Here are six tips that helped me, and I'm excited to share them with you.


1. Goal-Setting with Heart: Start by defining your 'why.' Are you aiming for better health, mental clarity, or a personal challenge? Whatever your reason, it's your beacon throughout January, helping you stay on course. Remember, your goals should be realistic and resonate with your values.


2. Socializing Skillfully: When it comes to social scenes, bring your own non-alcoholic drinks or some mocktails to share. They're not only fun but also a great conversation starter! When drinks aren't the main event, you can focus on what matters – connecting and engaging in meaningful conversations. You might even find events more enjoyable without alcohol.


3. Discover New Passions: We often use alcohol to deal with stress. Use this opportunity to try new stress management techniques or fun new activities that nourish your soul. This could be anything from meditation, painting, hiking, yoga, or gardening. Find what makes your heart sing.


4. Weekly Check-Ins: Break down your journey into weeks. Each week, have a plan or a checklist. Celebrate every day you stick to your goal. Reflect on your experiences, emotions, and any challenges. Acknowledging your progress is crucial in maintaining motivation.


5. Embrace Flexibility: Remember, choosing to reduce or abstain from alcohol doesn't have to be a lifelong commitment. Any reduction in alcohol consumption is a step towards better health. As you progress through January, you're in control. You might decide to stay sober, limit alcohol to special occasions, or enjoy non-alcoholic options most of the time. It's about finding what aligns with your health goals and lifestyle.


6. Reflect and Reassess: As January winds down, reflect on your journey. How has this month impacted your health, mood, and overall well-being? Use these insights to reassess your goals moving forward. Maybe you've discovered a love for sobriety or found a balance that works best for you. The beauty lies in the freedom to choose your path.


My Top Picks: The Best in Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Now, onto the exciting part! After all this talk about the why and the how let's explore some mouth-watering non-alcoholic options. Here's a roundup of my top picks, from bold beers to standout sparklings.


Non-Alcoholic Beer

Hands down, non-alcoholic beers are the best of the NA spirits. There is a vast selection to try, and you will surely find a favorite. Here are four NA beers that keep finding their way into my shopping cart.


Bravus Brewing - Raspberry Gose Non-Alcoholic Beer: I've always enjoyed a sour ale or goes, so Bravus Brewing's Raspberry Gose hit the spot. Imagine a burst of raspberry wrapped in a refreshing, slightly salty hug. If you like a fruited gose, you have to try this one.

Bravus Brewing Pumpkin Dark Alcoholic Beer: Bravus Brewing for the win again. Their Pumpkin Dark is like autumn in a glass! It's a soul-warming blend of pumpkin and spice, ideal for chilly evenings or paired with a hearty meal by the fireplace.

Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage: A classic that never disappoints. Consider it your go-to for any day when you crave the comfort of a traditional beer without the buzz.

AL's Classic American Non-Alcoholic Lager: The name says it all. AL's NA Lager captures the essence of a traditional American lager but without the alcohol. Perfect while watching the game or with a burger.


Non-alcoholic Wines

After trying dozens of bottles, these are my thoughts on non-alcoholic wines. Sparkling wines are the most similar to the real deal; white wines are next, and a distant third are red wines. The only NA red wine I found to be marginally similar to traditional wine is Leitz NV Zero Point Five Non-Alcoholic Pinot Noir. If you're fully in the sober lifestyle, give it a try; if you're sober curious, start with one of the suggestions below.


Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling Chardonnay: Hands down my favorite NA sparkling wine. It's crisp, dry, and shockingly passable as the real thing. Enjoy it on its own or in a delicious mocktail.

Château del ISH - Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé: My favorite rosé. Dry, bubbly, and beautiful, it has become my favorite way to make any day special.

Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling Rosé: A very close second, Thomas & Scott deliver yet again. Their Noughty Sparkling Rosé is crisp and bright and a definite crowd pleaser.

Leitz - Eins Zwei Zero Riesling Non-Alcoholic White Wine: This was my top white wine pick. It's not too sweet; it has a lovely mineral quality and pairs well with food.


Mocktails

This is the non-alcoholic category I have explored the least. But I couldn't leave you hanging, so here are my two favorites.


Ghia - Non-Alcoholic Lime & Salt Le Spritz: My go-to cocktail is a gin and tonic; if you're like me, Ghia's Lime & Salt Le Spritz will be a favorite. It's zesty, fun, and utterly refreshing and makes my gin-loving heart happy.

Parch - Spiced Piñarita - Non-Alcoholic Beverage: This mocktail brings the smoke and the heat and has great margarita vibes. I brought this to a party, and this was the consensus: the first sip, not sure; the second sip, heads were nodding; the third sip, everyone loved the spiced piñarita vibe.


Each of these beverages is a testament to the fact that you can have a fantastic drinking experience without the alcohol. You can find non-alcoholic options at most local wine shops or search out non-alcoholic bottle shops (if you're in the Baltimore, MD area, check out Hopscotch Bottle Shop) or shop online at non-alcoholic purveyors like Boisson.co. So, why not explore these non-alcoholic gems and find your new favorite? Cheers to delicious discoveries!


References:

- American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776700/

- Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23347102/

- Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2009: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19244173/



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