Saturday, 28 July 2018

Alcohol-Free Drinks



For many of my readers, alcohol-free drinks are the single most useful prop for getting through the early days of being sober.

If you've read my book, The Sober Diaries, you will know that Beck's Blue got me through many a dark hour. When I was dealing with the cancer diagnosis, I would cling to my bottle of alcohol-free beer like a drowning man to a life-raft.

Here, however, is a health warning: Some people find alcohol-free drinks very dangerous.

Alcoholics Anonymous strongly advise not going near 'fake alcohol.' Their argument is that it just makes you want the real stuff, and it's a displacement activity that stops you properly 'recovering.'

The truth is, you just have to know yourself - what works for you and what doesn't.

In my early months of being sober, I avoided alcohol-free wine. Just looking at the bottle would make me yearn for a glass of the hard stuff. 

But alcohol-free beer was totally different, because I had never been a beer drinker. I'd never thought of weak, gassy beer as a 'proper drink'. So, alcohol-free beer was not a trigger for me at all. And it really helped. Here's why:

We have spent years, decades, teaching our sub-conscious minds that the way to wind down and de-stress, is to have a drink. Initially, when we quit, our sub-conscious really misses that short-cut to relaxation. 

Over time, we find better, varied and more healthy ways of doing the same thing, but - in the meantime - 'fake booze' tricks your self-conscious into chilling out. I promise you, it works. When I first discovered Beck's Blue it even made me feel drunk. Woo hoo!

Also, most 'soft drinks' are not created for adult palates. They are very, very sweet, filled with sugar and preservatives, and often very gassy. There is nothing that makes you feel more deprived at a drinks party than only being offered tap water or sticky orange juice. If you're lucky, you get elderflower. Oh joy.

Alcohol-free drinks, however, make you feel properly grown-up. (I rarely feel properly grown-up). A glass of Seedlip (alcohol-free spirit) with a Fever-Tree tonic and some fresh mint at the end of the day hits the spot way better than Ribena. 

Also, many of us don't like to tell people initially that we've quit drinking. The admission leads to so many questions and assumptions, that often it's easier to keep quiet for a while. Alcohol-free drinks help you to 'fake it till you make it.' If you sit drinking a bottle of AF beer in a pub, no-one bats an eyelid, and you still feel like one of the crowd.

An added bonus of alcohol-free drinks is that many of them are seriously good for you! That makes a change, doesn't it? If you haven't tried Kombucha already then do. It's really yummy and amazingly healthy. Plus, it's super trendy, so you'll be surfing the zeitgeist.

Alcohol-free beer is incredibly low in calories, contains nothing artificial and is full of B vitamins - exactly the ones that big drinkers tend to be deficient in. Isn't that a lovely form of karma?

One thing to be aware of: since this market is quite new, there are strange anomalies in the labelling regulations. Any drinks that are 0.5% ABV or less in mainland Europe can be described as 'alcohol-free'. In the UK, however, 0.5% is classed as 'low alcohol.' 

This is nonsense, as even orange juice is 0.5% ABV, and it is impossible to become inebriated on 0.5%. Club Soda are lobbying Parliament to update the labelling of Alcohol-Free drinks.

When I first quit drinking, there were very few alcohol-free options available. Now there are hundreds.

My personal favourites are: lager - Bavaria 0%, ale - Brewdog Nanny State, spirits - Seedlip and Berkshire Blend, wine - Torres Natureo and the new Adnams 0.5 range, Prosecco - Scavi & Ray. Please add your own favourites in the comments below!

My friend, The Wise Bartender (who has just had a baby girl. A mini-wise-bartender, isn't that lovely?), stocks all of the above and lots, lots more and will deliver all over the UK. If you quote the code SOBERMUMMY on checkout, he'll give you a 5% discount. Whoop whoop.

There is loads more information and inspiration on being alcohol-free, as always, on the SoberMummy Facebook page.

The story of my first year booze-free, with all its ups and downs, is here (UK) and here (USA).

Love to you all,

SM




37 comments:

  1. Nice article, totally agree that AF drinks can really help. I've found the Adnams Sauvignon Blanc a little sweet but looking forward to trying the red and rose next. Love Wisebartender, very quick delivery.

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  2. Also the new Gordon's G&T 0.5% range is very good, especially the one with grapefruit - proper sharp!

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  3. I'm loving a cold glass of Nossecco at the end of the day. £2.99 from our local Coop. Even looks the part, so can take a bottle to a party.

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  4. Timely. Had a blip at 52 days in and rushed to Tesco for a fix, non-alcohol to be fair, but always feel a bit let down at the limited choice of beers. Don't want to go near the AF wine for some reason. Trying to get my hands on Seedlip, and have persuaded the local gin bar to stock it....I live far from London.
    Finding I am drinking AF drinks less now but when one wants something that tastes a bit bitter, a bit adult and is sippable it is tough.
    Liz

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  5. I'm finding alcohol removed wine FRE from asda is keeping me sober. I'm a red wine drinker (was?) but the red FRE is horrible and way too sweet. The white one is working well for me though.

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  6. Has been a life saver for me. My fav's Edenvale Shiraz, Ikea pear cider & Whissen -(Alcofree whiskey)

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  7. Becks blu and Heineken zero,love a nanny state if I fancy an “ale” also if you were a cider drinker then stowford press is amazing

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  8. Sainsbury's own sparkling wine is my favourite....not too sweet. Also, Echo falls sparkling with green tea infusion....sounds awful, but the green tea adds as light bitterness to the taste so it is not sweet.

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  9. I am so covetous of the many AF choices available in Europe. AF is just starting to catch on here. We're still pretty much stuck with virgin daiquiris and ginger ale (I actually love daiquiris...blackberry...mmmm) and the ever present ODouls (which I also like, but still...)

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  10. Great timing - on day 11 here and contemplating whether to dive head first into a vat of Beck's Blue, as I have during many attempts before.......tea and Pepsi is making me bloat like an old sow! Do we have an equivalent of La Croix in the U.K.?! It's all I read about on US blogs!!

    https://youboozeyoulooze.wordpress.com

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  11. White wine was my witches brew, so I steer well clear of wine lookalikes. Becks blue is a very enjoyable tipple but my fav drink currently is elderflower with 50/50 fizzy water to tonic. Loads of ice and a lovely glass ... Cheers

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  12. I was exactly the same, I had to have Becks Blue in the fridge at the weekends!!! Now I have it if it’s in but it’s not the life line that it was in the early days. I personally would just say do whatever works for you, especially in the early days it’s just about ticking off more sober days and sticking with whatever helps!!! Now I will have ginger beer tonic water, Diet Coke, sparkling water, I haven’t found an af wine I like, the Bees Knees fizz is nice but tastes quite sweet. The priority for me is to have it in a wine glass, whatever it is! That’s what works for me and I’m coming upto 21 months next month. Thanks Clare for the fab post as always xxxx

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  13. Hey,
    Felt like I wanted to comment. I admitted I was powerless over alcohol 3 months ago. After another stupid night of drinking (alone) never drank in company tbh, thst this was the end. I felt like I could not continue my life... I guess in my drunken haze I was better off out of this life. I sent numerous messages to my important loved ones telling them how much I loved them. I’m guessing I was gonna do something stupid that night... however I woke in the morning to find messages if I was ok, I couldn’t quite work out why I had these messages, then reality kicked in and it was then the penny dropped. I was gonna do something foolish, but low and behold I fell asleep!! Lol. It was then I realised I was an alcoholic. I found my nearest AA meeting and took my sorry arse there. So I’m at month 3, still going to AA AND still not sober. I go a couple of days of not drinking, then come the third night the little devil ( wine witch) insists that I have a drink, as what harm it can do. I’m fed up, pissed off with my self thst I cannot do it. I feel I have no will power and no determination to what would ultimately the best thing I ever would do. I’m currently reading your book and love your honesty. I’m toying with the idea of having non alcoholic beer, although AA go against this idea. Would u recommend as an idea? Sorry for going on

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  14. Hi, so sorry to hear about your struggle with alcohol and I hope you are ok. I'm with Clare on this one, Becks Blue all the way! It got me through the early days and surely AF beer is better than real alcohol if it can stop you touching the real stuff? When the wine witch came calling I would have 2 or 3 Becks Blue sometimes followed by a couple of AF G&T's to take off the edge and I would feel so bloated that drinking alcohol was not an option! Might not sound the healthiest of plans but I'm now on 4+ months and have never felt better and can even take or leave Becks Blue now. Good luck Tanya, stick with Clare's book and perhaps try the Jason Vale book. And when the wine witch comes calling perhaps try and fight her off with some AF stuff!! Good luck and please stay strong xxx

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  15. Good luck to everyone in this war. We may lose a battle or two along the way, keep focused, read, find support online and you will win the war.
    I gave up alcohol in January for a month. I bought Clare's book and am now 7 months sober.
    I drink San Miguel's zero alcohol, krombacher sin alcohol and many more.I rarely drank beer but for the first 3 months I always had some in my fridge as a safety net. Now I don't drink it as much.
    There is a wide variety of alcohol free beer in Spain but not so much wine.
    I can't believe that I am still sober. I don't want to go back to drinking.I love my life and my lifestyle today.
    Believe in yourself, no-one else can do this for you. But you can, there's a lot of help out there.

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  16. Hi all,
    I am clearly up with the 3am guilt.
    I messed up again last night and in need of a bit of help. Anyone out there who recently stopped drinking who can offer some support?

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    1. Hi Dutch courage,

      Well I am VERY early on my journey, just completed my first week AF YEAH and to be honest right now I feel great. I am conscious that I have a long journey ahead and I don't expect it to be smooth but for some reason something has finally kicked in and said enough is enough. Stumbing across Clare's book has been the catalyst for me. Whilst I had already cut down a very heavy drinking regime approx. 2 years ago, I was still drinking far too much and it just doesn't sit well with me. I suffer all the things that Clare describes, waking up around 3am, heart pounding out of my chest, the anxiety and depression the days following a BIG night, the weigh gain etc etc. Right now I am trying to envisage all the wonderful things this life has to offer without alcohol. I am hoping to meet like minded people on here that I can help and I can gain help from. xx

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    2. PS could count on one hand the number of beers I have had previously, definitely not my drink of choice, yet I am loving the Becks Blue!!! I would never have tried them had I not read Clare's book. I took 4 with me to a big party on Saturday and felt almost drunk. Love them!! x

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    3. Hi Dutch Courage, You have come to the right place for support, have a poodle round Clare's blog, go back to where she started, read comments. You are not alone, you have just joined a great gang. I am just coming up to 2 years ... I would never ever have believed that possible. I have gained in confidence, I am calmer, more amusing it seems, and unbelievably happier. Hang on in there ... The waters get smoother and the rocky bits get less ... Promise. :-) Like Chaptertwo above I found Becks Blue a good substitute to start. I now love Elderflower with tonic (lots of ice and a pretty glass)

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    4. I love the feeling a being calmer. I have had a life time of changes thrown at me in the last 5 years, many of them have resulted in almost crippling grief. I 'thought' alcohol was the way to help me through... I really did get that wrong. I've been brought to my knees with anxiety many times recently and it's always after I have over indulged with wine. Right now I am loving the feeling of peace in my mind and PRAYING it will last. Great to know there is a place like this to go to.

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  17. My initial AF go to drink was Bitburger lager still my favourite. But have added Tesco 0.5% G&T and Rawson's Retreat sparkling wine (0.5%). Still haven't found an acceptable AF wine. I am 2 and half years sober and am do pleased the drinks industry is finally realising that there is an increasingly huge market for AF drinks.

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  18. I just reached the 100 day milestone Tuesday!! I was probably at around 50 days when I discovered "The Sober Diaries." I couldn't put it down, and it definitely helped me continue on this journey. It explained so much of what I was experiencing. I can't thank you enough. I know I've still got a lot of challenges ahead! As far as AF drinks go, I didn't know there was such a thing till I read the book. I looked on Amazon and found some wines, but they're expensive and I was kind of afraid it would trigger me to want the real thing. I have found that it helps to have a glass of Crystal Light lemonade made with extra lemon juice in a wine glass when I get home from work. There are no calories and for whatever reason it seems to relax me. I'm going to keep reading this blog and hope and pray that I'll one day be saying I'm at the 1 year mark!! Oh, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor, (14 years!) so why I was dumb enough to not curb my drinking before now, I'll never know. Thank you for writing the book, and offering inspiration and support through this blog!

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  19. This is brilliant. I am 7 months sober and it has helped me massively in social occasions, on holiday and at bbqs over the summer. Erdinger is really good as is Heineken. I think that all the beers are ok provided they are served very cold! Thanks for the amazing work on the blogs and the book.

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  20. So here I am on a Sunday evening having promised myself to not do it but there was a glass of white left and a glass of red which I just couldn’t throw away - these two glasses persuaded me to go to the corner shop and get another bottle of red - which I’m halfway through! I went 9 weeks at the beginning of the year without a drink and felt so much better for it. I was going to the gym, my skin looked better and I lost weight. Why the hell did I start again? Well I thought I could handle just the odd drink every now and then but obviously not!!! AF drinks do help, I call having a Becks Blue “guilt free drinking “ but I obviously have to get back in the zone as I feel like crap!!!

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  21. Hope you are doing ok and good luck with your AF journey xxx

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  22. Just shouting out from the rooftops that today I have finally managed two weeks sober! The longest stint since I fell off the wagon last August after 10 months sober. I am doing this! ����

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  23. Yeah that’s fab!!! You are nailing it!!! Xxx

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  24. Aaarrrgh rant alert! A friend who I've told that I've quit drinking has said

    "Maybe you should learn to control the things you like better, than to give up the things you like just because you over do it...."

    I'm angry and annoyed at this comment.

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    1. She's probably just dealing with her own stuff. You'll know if she's a true friend if she accepts that this is something you have to do. I had friends that stopped talking to me when I quit. We used to drink a lot together, so I guess they didn't want a sober person in their circle of friends.

      Good luck and keep going :)

      Love

      Rob

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  25. Yes be angry, that isn't helpful at all is it?!! Do you think your friend doesn't want you to give up, are they perhaps jealous as they can't quit themselves? Or just don't understand the extent of your problem? Whatever it is please carry on with your sober journey, you've just achieved 2 weeks, well done you xxx

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  26. I think she's actually slightly offended that I've given up as she doesn't get it and says us mum's need wine as parenting is hard. But at the time she's possibly also a take it or leave it person as she says that she can pour one drink and it last an entire evening. She also 'helpfully' suggested that maybe I should switch to spirits instead. But she also does a lot of going out and getting drunk still whereas I never used to enjoy doing that and would always feel regret if I got drunk, suffer terrible hangovers and end up wasting a day the following the day. Not to mention the anxiety, depression and poor diet the days that followed. I honestly feel great and don't feel like I'm depriving myself at all. I did 10 months sober and it was the best 10 months but I made the mistake of thinking I could just have one but slowly increased after that again. I guess she feels like I must be really depressed about the prospect of never drinking again when in fact the opposite is true! I feel excited about it and I just knew if I could get that first week to ten days under my belt then I could do it. That first week is the hardest but I climbed that wall that Clare talks about. I've read Clare's book and now reading Jason Vale. Thanks all for allowing me to share xxx

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  27. I think Robs definitely right about some people not wanting a sober person in their group of friends, I didn't either when I was a heavy drinker and was secretly jealous of others who could truly take it or leave it. I had one friend who continually text me after I'd quit telling me surely I could just have one or 2 cheeky beers, or perhaps I could just drink at weekends etc. I so know that doesn't work for me and I now know she has a problem too. It sounds like you are loving life at the moment and you've done the really hard bit of getting over the first few very tough days so good luck to you, you can do this. You've done 10 months before which is amazing and you know going back to booze isn't for you so hopefully that will make you much stronger this time. Here's to a happy AF life everyone xx

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  28. Sugar cravings anyone? I've woken up feeling so ashamed as if I had an alcohol binge last night, but instead of alcohol it was sugar.... It makes me feel so sad and ashamed as I'm so happy to be free from the booze for nearly 30 days and actually lost 5lbs! I was feeling like I was back to my normal self last week, eating well and balanced, exercising but this weekend I've been acting like some crazy sugar monster. I feel so ashamed and feel like I've undone all the hardwork or that I now I have a cross-addiction. How can I get a handle on this?

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  29. I am not agree with this, All are drinks are using alcohol its not alcohol free. I suggest when you drink this you can take one or tow ARMR shot before start this drink it help you to cure hangover. and anti hangover drinks Online available on nearest store also.

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