After-work happy hours and Saturday night bottles of red wine might be part of your regular repertoire, but that doesn't mean you need to sip on alcohol every time the occasion calls for it. Whether you're cutting back on alcohol to lose weight, for your health or because you're pregnant, there are plenty of alternative beverages that hydrate and refresh -- without the bevy of calories, sugar and carbs that a typical alcoholic beverage provides.
Lookalikes and Mocktails
If your desire to cut back on alcohol doesn't extend to telling your friends and family about your decision, order a lookalike drink. This might be a soda water in a lowball glass with a twist of lemon, or cranberry juice in a martini glass with a slice of lime -- everyone will think it's a Cosmo. Ask the bartender to create a virgin version of your favorite blended drink, such as a strawberry daiquiri without the rum.
Sparkling Waters, Juices and Sodas
If you like the fizz of beer or carbonated cocktails, get the same effect with sparkling water or carbonated juice -- but with a fraction of the calories. Holding onto a bottle of root beer feels just like a bottle of beer; however, if you choose a fizzy soda, go for the diet version to avoid excess sugar.
If it's the taste of beer or wine that you're after, but you don't want the booze, choose alcohol-free varieties. While they might taste slightly different than drinks with alcohol added, they provide a reasonable substitute for some people -- though it won't save you from calories or carbohydrates.
When all else fails, turn to water. Even if you're just trying to pace yourself, drinking a glass of water between each cocktail is a smart strategy. As a diuretic, alcohol dehydrates you, which is part of what leads to a hangover. However, sipping on a glass of ice water -- rather than a beer -- all night means you'll be refreshed and hydrated.
Cutting back on alcohol can be a difficult choice to make. Telling your friends and family about your decision means they can support you when you're struggling with that decision. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, seek professional treatment -- simply substituting a similar beverage, such as alcohol-free varieties, might act as a trigger.
Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park. She has a long career in print and web media, including serving as a managing editor for a monthly nutrition magazine and food editor for a Maryland lifestyle publication. She also owns an Etsy shop selling custom invitations and prints.