by Erin Bates October 19, 2020
This is a guest post written by Rachel Molenda, a Toronto-based Intuitive Eating & Body Image Coach and podcast host.You can learn more about Rachel below or over on her website.
There’s a lot of talk about the sober curious movement as of late, and while I’ve been curious about it myself as I’ve started to reflect on my relationship with alcohol more than ever over the past year, the “all or nothing” approach never fairs well with me and my disordered eating background, and simply leaves me wanting the forbidden food/drink even more.
Heads up: I understand an all or nothing approach is required for those in recovery for alcoholism, and should be done with a support team. This post, and the recommendations within it, do not apply to those who struggle with alcohol, or addiction.
The good news is, when you eat and live intuitively, you can make up your own rules based on what feels best for you! For me, what that has looked like is starting to enjoy more alcohol-free drinks when I feel like it. Sometimes it feels funny to be enjoying a glass of wine, and then a non-alcoholic IPA next. But that’s what I love about intuitive eating; there are no rules, other than to listen to what your body wants and needs. The reality is, when I listen to my body, there are times where I want to enjoy alcohol, be it with friends or over a meal, and there are times when I really don’t.
If this is resonating with you so far, and you want to learn how you can welcome non-alcoholic beverages in your life while still consuming alcohol from time to time and not feel like a walking oxymoron, listen up -- I’ve got some tips for you!
Intuitive eating is an approach to health and food that has nothing to do with diets or relying on willpower. Intuitive eating teaches you how to connect with your natural hunger cues and food preferences, and celebrates the body’s innate ability to self-regulate around food (such as, what you eat and how much of it) -- that is, when food rules aren’t in the picture, which will naturally impact how you engage with food.
The reality of intuitive eating is that what you consume on a daily basis is going to look different every single day. Some days you might have a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates and other days, it might be more of a carb-predominate day.
The reason why intuitive eating still works and can be referred to as a healthy sustainable lifestyle is because, if you happen to eat too much of one thing, your body will naturally crave the opposite.
For example, if I said you could eat nothing but cookies for the next week. Well, eventually, you would be like “get these freaking cookies away from me and give me a salad”. You wouldn’t need a diet, or governing food rules to help you “get back on track” -- your body is smart, and would do that for you.
When there’s trust that you can enjoy the given food or drink when you want it, there isn’t this urgency to enjoy it in copious amounts. That’s why, even as a trained Certified Holistic Nutritionist, I keep chips in my house at all times. Does it mean I eat chips 24/7? No, because I know I can have the chips whenever I want, but when I actually check in with what I’m craving, I don’t actually want chips all the time. The same will happen for you when you give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy all food.
Just like what we eat on a daily basis can look different, so, too, can the beverages we choose to enjoy. Some days I opt for coffee, some days I don’t. Some days I opt for wine, some days I opt for non-alcoholic Bubbly Rose. The best thing about intuitive eating? Anything goes, as long as it feels good for you!
Using some of the principles of the Intuitive Eating philosophy, I’m going to share some tips as to how you can integrate non-alcoholic drinks into your lifestyle even when/if you do continue to enjoy alcohol, like I do.
1. Make non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks that you enjoy available
Choice and variety is key when it comes to intuitive eating. If the only “fun beverage” you have on hand is wine, then there’s a high likelihood you’ll opt for wine. I mean, if your body really doesn’t want wine and it’s available, then you might go seek out an alternative. But typically, our human design opts for the easier, more convenient path.
This is why I recommend keeping a variety of fun drinks on hand at any given time. If you look in my fridge/cupboards right now, you’ll notice I have red wine, white wine, beer (of all kind – ambers, lagers, IPAs, stouts) as well as Grüvi’s non-alcoholic Prosecco, Bubbly Rose and a variety of Grüvi beer (IPA, lager, pale all, weisse, stout). I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but having this kind of variety on hand makes it easy to opt for the choice you’re craving, and makes non-alcoholic beverages seem more exciting, too, when maybe you’re trying to watch your alcohol consumption during the week, like I do.
I also love that it gives you the opportunity to offer inclusive and diverse options to guests. I have a few friends in my life who aren’t consuming alcohol at the moment, as they prepare for conception or are choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle to support their mental health, and I love that I still have really exciting options to offer them when they pop by for a socially-distanced hangout so they don’t feel excluded (and aren’t left to simply have a glass of water).
2. Check in – what do you feel like?
When you have a diverse collection of fun beverages on hand, you can check in with what you’re in the mood for and then honor that desire! Just because you enjoy alcohol, doesn’t mean you will always want alcohol.
There have been many times when I’ve enjoyed a glass of wine, and a glass of Non-Alcoholic Bubbly Rose the next – and not because I’ve reached the bottom of my wine bottle. I simply want something different, and it doesn’t always have to be alcoholic!
It’s not an oxymoron; it’s the reality of honoring your unique innate preferences and it’s a beautiful thing!
3. Pay attention to how you feel
This is a big part of how I navigate food and drink choices. I’m constantly checking in throughout the day to see what I need. If I notice I’m stressed, dehydrated or low energy, I know that having an alcoholic drink isn’t going to serve me, or make me feel any better.
“But, rats – I had fish tacos on the menu for dinner that would’ve tasted SO good with an IPA!”. No problem, with Grüvi’s non-alcoholic IPA (which, is SO good by the way, and I say that as someone who has enjoyed a wide array of alcoholic craft beer and alcohol in general).
At the end of the day, it’s important to make choices that feel good to you and honor your unique needs. I’m super grateful that something like Grüvi exists to make it easy, and non-isolating to do so. What I mean by that, is that you’ll never have to be on the receiving end of a “why aren’t you drinking?!” comment again when you’re at a party (post-pandemic times, of course), because, should you choose not to drink, you can still enjoy one of Grüvi’s collection of non-alcoholic wine and/or beer and fit into any setting.
About the Author: Rachel Molenda (@rachelmmolenda) is Toronto-based Intuitive Eating & Body Image Coach and Host of the Fill Your Cup Podcast, on a mission to help women stop hating on their bodies and feeling out of control around food. Rachel’s non-restrictive, intuitive eating approach to food has helped thousands of women put an end to emotional eating, binge eating and disordered eating and find an effortless and enjoyable healthy way of eating and living. You can learn more about Rachel over at rachelmmolenda.com