I don't find giving up alcohol too difficult. Although I love red wine and the glamour of cocktails, drinking, for me, seems primarily to be emotionally attached to the fun of friends, parties and suppers. Anywhere where the alcohol flows and you get to laugh a lot and have a great time.
Water as a substitute is far too boring for me, and even soda water and lime can only carry you so far. If you’re on a health-kick, there’s no point cutting alcohol and replacing it with sugary substitutes or sweeteners, as both have been proven to increase weight gain. Artificial sweeteners in particular are now believed to change the flora in the gut, increasing the production of a type of bacteria that is more efficient at pulling energy from food and storing it as fat.
I've found that if I can swap the alcoholic options for something that feels and tastes similar, then my taste buds and my mind seem perfectly happy to accept the substitution. As I always lose at least 3lbs in the first month, it's a no-brainer.
If you want to intersperse your mineral water with something healthy (but delicious), here are some of my favourite drinks:
Detoxtail 1: Virgin Mary: Packed full of lycopene, a glass of tomato juice counts as one of your five a day. Add spice with smoked paprika or chipotle and throw in a bit of health-boosting cumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. In one study, women who drank half a pint of tomato juice per day saw a reduction in waist circumference.
Detoxtail 2: Mock-jito: Muddle a few sprigs of mint with the juice of a lime, then top up with equal parts coconut water and soda. Serve with lots of ice. Add a little stevia to sweeten. Coconut water contains a high concentration of potassium, which helps regulate and reboot metabolism, heart and muscle function. Although the hydration claims for coconut water have been scaled back recently following a lawsuit in the US, it’s still considerably healthier than a traditional mixer.
Detoxtail 3: Lemonade with a twist: Lemonade contains lots of sugar, so stick to one of these. Add a teaspoon or two of bitters and the juice of half a fresh lime juice for a tart kick. Angostura Bitters, that little yellow-lidded bottle lots of us have lurking at the back of our drinks cabinet, is a mildly alcoholic concoction of bitter herbs and spices. Made from a base of gentian root, it has a host of health benefits, including stimulating the hormone gastrin, secreted in the stomach, which aids digestion. If you don’t like the taste, US based physician Dr Weil (AKA the father of integrative medicine) has some alternatives.
Who said cocktails weren't a complementary therapy? Who knew they can actively reboot your health?!