Alcohol’s a big part of our culture. We drink to celebrate a birthday or when we go to catch our favourite NHL team in action. We also drink when we’ve had a hard day at work or to help us relax at the end of the week. Drinking isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it’s done in moderation. But the growing “sober curious” movement is encouraging people to be mindful of their consumption and making opting to go booze-free more socially acceptable.

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up and March being Liver Health Month, it’s a fitting time to consider how drinking contributes to your overall wellness. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Health Perks of Reducing Your Booze

While some studies suggest there might be some benefits of moderate drinking, most research shows that it’s not good for our health. Limiting alcohol consumption can decrease the risk of:

  • Liver disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Injury and lapses in judgement
  • Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety

What Are Some Ways to Cut Down?

1. Monitor Your Intake
Start by really taking notice of how much you drink and document it. It may not always be easy, but keeping track will help you see patterns you may not have known were there and identify where you’d like to cut back.

2. Set Some Goals
Whether you’re quitting cold turkey or just decreasing your intake, make sure you write down your goals and reasons for cutting back alcohol. Writing them down reminds you of the benefits and will help you stick to your goals.

3. Look for Dry Venues
The growing teetotaler trend is being embraced by some of the hippest bars and venues around. Not only are there alcohol-free events hosted by the sober community, but full booze-free bars are offering five star experiences without the hangover.

4. Get comfortable saying “no”
Drinking is so engrained in our culture we feel we have to apologize when we turn down a beverage. The truth is, there’s no explanation needed. A polite “no thanks” is hard to argue with and should be respectfully accepted by your peers.

5 Simple and Delicious Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Cutting back drinking doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious beverage! If you’re trying to reduce drinking there are lots of great alcohol-free options and mocktails to choose from. Here are just a few non-alcoholic drinks to choose from.

Non-Alcoholic Beer
It used to be that there were only a few options for non-alcoholic beer and they weren’t always the best-tasting drinks out there. Now, alcohol-free beer has blown up and everyone from small craft breweries to major brands has released some delicious beers. Whether you’re looking for a fresh ginger beer or a classic lager, chances are you’ll be able to find some great options.

Real Shirley Temple
For those with a sweet tooth, this is an awesome choice. All you need is 45ml of Grenadine, 180ml of Ginger Ale and some lemon. Mix it all together with ice and garnish with a lemon.

Virgin Bloody Mary or Caesar
This is a classic and the good news is it’s almost the exact same as the original alcoholic version. You can also add your own spin on this by choosing how you garnish it and how much of each ingredient you like. You need 180 ml of either Tomato or Clam Juice, half a lemon or lime, salt and pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, pickle or celery. Squeeze your lemon or lime in the glass, add salt and pepper, then your Tabasco and Worcestershire, juice and ice and your garnish of choice.

Virgin Mojito
This one is perfect for a hot summer day! It’s also really easy to make. You need 1 tbsp of sugar, small bunch of mint, 3 juiced limes and some soda water. Muddle the sugar with leaves from the mint using a pestle and mortar (if you don’t have that just use a bowl and the end of a rolling pin). Just add some crushed ice in a glass, your mixture and some lime juice and soda. Then you have a cool drink that is alcohol-free!

Virgin Piña Colada
Great for the beach and really easy to make. Grab 1 cup ice, 3/4 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup coconut cream, 1 tablespoon white sugar or honey ­– blend it and you’re done!

These are just a few suggestions but you can always get creative on your own to try out some mocktails. If you follow these tips and stick with some non-alcoholic options, cutting back on alcohol is totally achievable.