It’s fair to say that we Kiwis like our liquor. Our alcohol consumption stats are among the world’s highest and the damage cause by alcohol abuse in our communities is well-known. And while it’s easy to point the finger at young people, middle aged women are among the fastest growing group of alcoholics.
As summer days stretch out and day light saving proffers more opportunities to socialise later and longer, it’s sometimes good to whoa back a bit on the alcohol consumption. What starts out as a week of over indulgence can quickly become habit forming. Alcohol should be an occasional treat but can too easily become a social lubricant, emotional crutch or form of self medication.
There are lots of healthy, alcohol free, grown up alternatives that provide an adequate substitute to your favourite tipple. Sure, you won’t get the chemically-induced buzz that comes from drinking alcohol but you’ll be doing your liver a favour – especially if one of your New Year’s goals was to make healthier eating choices! And the buzz is only ever a short lived thing – hangovers and feelings of self loathing tend to last much longer.
There are plenty of fizzy drinks around but they tend to get a bit sickly sweet after a while.
Sometimes, just drinking a mixer (tonic or soda) on its own can be quite refreshing. To add a festive feel, freeze a berry in the middle of some deep ice cubes. As the ice melts, your drink will be infused with the flavour of your chosen fruit – yum.
If you’ve got a blender, here’s a few other simple ideas:
- Non alcoholic punch – 850 ml pineapple juice, 375 ml can ginger beer, 125 g strawberries quartered, 1 TBSP freshly chopped mint, 1/4 cup passion fruit pulp, 285 ml bottle tonic water, 450 g crushed pineapple, ice cube. Combine all ingredients except ice in a large bowl. Add ice just before serving. Makes about 3 litres.
- Cranberry cooler – 1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries or boysenberries, 1 cup cold cranberry scented tea, juice of 1 lime, 2 TBSP brown sugar. Combine in a blender til smooth. Add crushed ice to serve.
- Green tea crush – 1 lime cut into 8 wedges, 3 TBSP brown sugar, 6 mint leaves, 1 cup orange juice frozen into cubes, 1 cup cold green tea, lemonade. Crush lime, sugar and mint. Place orange cubes into 4 tall glasses, add fruit mix. Pour over green tea and top up with lemonade.
If you are worried about your alcohol consumption, call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline (0800 787 797), talk to your GP or, read Mrs D’s blog, one woman’s story of her battle with the bottle and her journey living sober.