December may be the most wonderful time of year in many ways, but it isn’t always conducive to taking good care of ourselves. Dry January has become popular in recent years, and for good reason: Abstaining from alcohol for 31 days after the holidays can be a healthy way to reset both your mind and body.
Dry January doesn’t have to be the start of a permanent change; think of it as an experiment. It doesn’t have to be a drag either. We’ve gathered some ideas to help keep your glass half full.
Why Try Dry January?
Scientifically-speaking, alcohol is a toxin. This article from the Journal of Hepatology includes an eye-opening diagram showing the potential negative consequences of alcohol consumption. Of course, multiple factors play a role in our overall health, and many people enjoy alcohol without experiencing adverse effects. Even so, it’s fascinating to note all the ways in which alcohol consumption affects our bodies.
It’s also fascinating to learn about the positive effects of Dry January, thanks to this NPR interview with Rajiv Jalan, professor of hematology at University College of London Medical School. Dr. Jalan states plainly that alcohol would not be approved by the present-day FDA. Therefore, it’s not surprising to hear that participants in a Dry January study saw a range of positive changes after giving up drinking for a month:
- Improved liver function
- Improved skin and appearance
- Weight loss
- Lowered blood glucose
- Better sleep
Furthermore, while participants may have begun drinking alcohol again after the study, they reported drinking less than they previously did. Dry January may help adjust habits, even if you don’t continue to abstain.
What To Drink During Dry January
Ready to stock your refrigerator and pantry? We found some great ways to quench your thirst this month.
Sparkling and Still Water
Start with sparkling and still waters with a dash of flavor. Seltzer has grown increasingly popular, and grocery stores stock a variety of brands and flavors. Polar Seltzer may look pedestrian, but these bubbles have a cult following. Flavors include well-loved favorites as well as enticing options like blueberry lemonade, toasted coconut, and pineapple pomelo. Drink them alone or use them for mixing, like in this non-alcoholic red white and blue sangria recipe. If you want to elevate your seltzer a notch or two, check out Dry Soda which is also available in grocery stores. We’re curious to try their array of flavors such as Fuji apple, lavender, cucumber, Rainier cherry, and ginger.
Finally, if you aren’t a fan of bubbles, try Hint Water which offers similarly interesting flavors like mango-grapefruit, pomegranate, honeydew, and pear. You’ll want to savor these rather than guzzling them.
Mocktails at the Bar
Whether you’re mixing drinks at home or ordering them at the bar, mocktails are becoming more widespread. Many restaurants offer a separate section on the bar menu for non-alcoholic creations. You can also keep the following suggestions at the ready.
Keep it simple with soda or tonic water with a twist of lemon or lime, or a dash of bitters. Add a splash of cranberry, grenadine, Rose’s Lime, or another mixer. With the popularity of Moscow Mules, bars often have ginger beer on hand. Ask the bartender to hold the vodka for a Moscow Mule Mocktail. You’ll still want the copper mug though, for the sake of authenticity. Ginger beer also goes well with grenadine for a new twist on the childhood favorite, Shirley Temple.
If you’re feeling adventurous, ask your server to have the bartender whip up something fun. We’ve done exactly this on multiple occasions, and we’ve never been disappointed. Plus, mixologists love a chance to show off their artistry.
Mocktails at Home
We previously featured an assortment of mocktail recipes that are worth a try any time of year. This story from Good Morning America showcases more mocktails that look fantastic. Be advised: these recipes involve prep time and specialty ingredients. But if you’re craving a real cocktail, you won’t be disappointed in the results.
Hot Tea and Cider
If you’re a fan of hot toddies or adding a shot of Bailey’s to your coffee, visit the tea aisle in your grocery store. Better yet, head to a specialty tea shop for supplies. Hot tea is a delicious way to sip away the evening. Be aware of the caffeine content in black tea, and remember that green tea has a bit of caffeine too. But herbal tea can be a relaxing, caffeine-free and non-alcoholic ritual you may carry on well into the new year.
Finally, don’t forget hot apple cider as a alternative to alcoholic coffee drinks for an after-dinner treat. Scoop a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top, drizzle it with caramel, and add a cinnamon stick. You won’t even miss those hot toddies.