Canada’s new guidelines for low-risk drinking have been generating a buzz since they were released last month. The broad strokes are that you should limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks or less per week – a steep drop from the two to three drinks per day that was previously thought to be safe.
As research has evolved, we know more about how alcohol can affect your health. The new guidelines point out that the more you drink each week, the more your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke increases.
Health risks and recommendations aside, the pandemic has also inspired many people to re-evaluate their relationship to alcohol and how it influences their relationships and their mental health.
No matter why you’ve decided to cut your alcoholic intake, there are lots of non-alcoholic options you can turn to for tasty alternatives.
Mocktails or spirit-free drinks are the low-hanging fruit of the non-alcoholic world. Many restaurants and bars have added special alcohol-free concoctions to their drink menus – and these days, they’re much more sophisticated than the Shirley Temples of your childhood. Keep in mind that many non-alcoholic drinks still contain a lot of sugar.
Mix your own
You can invest in non-alcoholic alternatives to spirits like gin, rum and vermouth that give the same intensity and mouth feel of the original beverages. But you can also do a lot with items that are easy to find at the grocery store.
This Blueberry-Rosemary Lemon Mocktail sounds refreshing. Frozen grapes are the star ingredient in this White Grape Spritzer. Here’s a simple beer mocktail that has non-alcoholic beer, tonic water and lime. This salted caramel white Russian sounds like dessert in a glass. These fancy mocktails feature tea in the ingredient list. Make your own lavender simple syrup for this Citrus Fizz Mocktail.
Keep it local
Many local wineries, cideries and breweries across Nova Scotia make low or no-alcohol versions of their drinks. You can also support local companies who produce syrups, bitters, sparkling waters and other accoutrements that can jazz up your beverages.
Kombucha is a refreshing, non-alcoholic fermented tea drink that comes in a range of flavours; many companies make it locally and it’s available on tap in some restaurants. You can also brew your own at home – it’s a hands-off process that lets you personalize the flavour.
Hold the judgment
Normalizing non-drinking means making everyone feel comfortable, no matter what’s in their glass. Don’t make a big deal if a friend or family member turns down alcohol. They don’t owe you an explanation!
If you’re kicking alcohol for good and need support, check out the Community Mental Health and Addictions website and look on social media for support groups in your community. For a comprehensive list of the support available in Halifax, check out Sober City. This group helps connect sober and sober-curious people to local businesses and activities, including weekly alcohol-free events.
In Halifax, UNtoxicated Queers is a harm-reduction support group that hosts sober events for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Other community groups across Nova Scotia are starting to host more in-person and online events for folks exploring the sober lifestyle.
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