Want a glass of wine to de-stress? Do squats instead (yes, we're serious)
If you’re used to de-stressing after work with a glass of wine, try a quick burst of exercise.
“Do 25 squats, or walk around the block, fast-paced,” says Cali Estes, Ph.D, addiction specialist and founder of The Addictions Coach. “Exercise boosts serotonin and dopamine in the brain, and a quick shot of both will make the happy chemicals release, and you won't want to drink.”
If you crave sugar or carbs, try these foods
Alcohol is high in sugar, so when you quit it, you may find yourself reaching for other sugars (this was definitely the case with me). If you’re used to beer, then you may also be craving carbs. In either case, opt for healthier options.
“If you drink a six-pack, it is like eating an entire loaf of bread,” says Estes. “Try eating a sweet potato or a baked potato instead. It will satisfy your carb deficiency and make you feel full, and the tryptophan in the sweet potato release the happy chemical dopamine in your brain.”
Koskinen recommends dark chocolate for a rush of endorphins.
"Not only does it offer a strong flavor, the phenethylamine triggers the release of endorphins, feel-good neurohormones," she says.
Shapiro suggests a cup of fruit or a 100 percent all-fruit ice pop.
A drink that feels fancy or fun can go a long way
Replacing an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink that is “special” can be a big help when quitting booze, Shapiro notes.
"Choosing a signature mocktail can check many of the blocks,” says Koskinen. “If you use seltzer water and add a strong flavor like citrus or herbs, you get a fancy drink with bite, in a glass, that mixes well in social situations. A twist or sidecar makes it all the more celebratory."
Koskinen also recommends kombucha, but this one requires a disclaimer: Make sure you are okay with trace amounts of alcohol (not enough to get you drunk, but not recommended for anyone with a history of substance abuse).
"I have found kombucha to be an effective tool in transitioning off nightly nightcaps," says Koskinen. "The sharp taste of kombucha mimics that of alcohol. The still-legal-for-kids-to-drink amount of alcohol in this fermented beverage may be enough to trick the brain into thinking it’s getting a dose of ethanol, which may be just enough to take the edge off."
I order a mocktail when I meet people for drinks because it feels good to sip a drink that has an air of indulgence to it. The action also helps reduce any worry of being interrogated by strangers about why I’m not drinking (it happens all too often) because mocktails look just like cocktails. I don’t get a buzz, but I do get a sort of comfort.
“Sometimes it is just holding something in your hand or switching gears that helps to break the cycle,” says Shapiro. “Same action, different liquid.”
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