You don’t have to assume the label of “foodie” to appreciate innovative flavors and different approaches in dining. Some studies even suggest that one of the numerous advantages of being sober is your sense of taste improves. So if you’ve been curious about non-alcoholic beverages, crafters work hard to introduce a wide range of satisfying flavors to appeal to everyone. But if you’re in recovery, there might be more going on with that upscale mocktail.
Why Does a Drink Matter to You?
Indulging in a decadent meal for a special occasion or stacking a holiday plate with all your family’s traditional favorites are common ways to commemorate fellowship and good fortune. Certain foods remind us of home, provide comfort, and establish a sense of community, and here in Georgia, residents are proud of the diverse culture represented in Southern cuisine.
Alcoholic beverages hold much of the same merit, but when someone is recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), there’s a lot more at stake with each sip than taste or tradition. Understanding individual triggers for drinking and why they occur is the foundation of maintaining a successful recovery. Unfortunately, some people may find that non-alcoholic beverages can prompt cravings and trigger unwanted behaviors in certain environments, such as a bar, restaurant, or social gathering.
Conversely, other individuals with AUD feel that non-alcoholic alternatives actually help to stabilize their sobriety if they focus more on the conscious choice, a sense of belonging, and the flavor profile and ingredients of the drink. It becomes more of a social and culinary experiment, rather than a default to what they can’t have.
So far, researchers are unclear as to the effects of non-alcoholic products on the sober community but obviously, mindset matters. This is a great subject to bring up during therapy or at a continuing care community group.
Are Non-Alcoholic Beverages Good for You?
If you’re considering health benefits, non-alcoholic alternatives might not be as good as a nice big glass of water or an antioxidant-rich cup of green tea, but they’re often better than most energy drinks and sodas.
A lot of creativity goes into the crafting of non-alcoholic selections, as creators want these beverages to be considered a culinary experience with potential health benefits. Common ingredients often include:
- Adaptogens. According to the Cleveland Clinic, adaptogens are “plants and mushrooms that help your body respond to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and overall wellbeing.” Although not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are many familiar plants in this category popular in other herbal applications, including ginseng, reishi mushrooms, and tulsi (holy basil).
- Botanicals. WebMD defines these as “plants or parts of plants with medicinal value or health benefits.” Many distilled spirits with the alcohol properties removed enhance flavor profiles with different botanicals like bergamot, coriander, lemongrass, mint, juniper, and orris root.
- Fruit juices and teas. Some of these natural mixers offer additional layers of flavor when combined with other ingredients. An Earl Grey Tea and Tonic, for example, steeps black tea in a bergamot syrup, with a dash of fresh lemon and a flavored tonic water. Another mocktail might blend apple water, celery juice, chamomile tea, lemon, and white pepper, or include a fermented fruit beverage such as tepache—made from pineapple scraps—with a hint of sage.
- Nootropics. Known in traditional medicine as “smart drugs,” nootropics are believed to improve cognitive ability, including learning, memory and thought processing. BevSource reports nootropics “can be botanical or non-botanical. Examples are caffeine, L-theanine, noopept, and piracetam. L-theanine, for instance, is a naturally occurring amino acid found in mushrooms and green and black tea.”
- Vitamins and minerals. Many non-alcoholic choices boost potential health benefits by adding B12, D3, electrolytes, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Master Recovery at Willingway
Non-alcoholic choices might help some people in recovery remove alcohol from their lives for good. For others, any substitutions that simulate typical behaviors they engaged in before rehab will only prompt cravings for alcohol.
One vital lesson you learn at a quality inpatient rehabilitation facility is that you are more than the symptoms of your disorder. By working with board certified professionals to define your whole being—mind, body, and spirit—you develop a greater capacity to make conscious choices about non-alcoholic alternatives and whether they fit into your overall wellness goals.