What I Learned From Dry January


In light of a recent checkup with my doctor resulting in a borderline pre-diabetic diagnosis, I decided to jump on the Dry January bandwagon this year. I have a few friends who have done it in the past, but it seemed like this year it really caught on. For some, it's a jump-start to drink less, while for others, it's a bit of a detox from holiday excesses. Personally, I've always found the timing puzzling. Dry January or "Drynuary" always seemed a little draconian. The glitz and glam and general conviviality of December is gone, replaced by cold weather and post holiday blues. With few social obligations, what else is there to do but curl up by the fire and sip a glass of wine or mulled cocktail? I was skeptical that I would make it the full thirty one days but decided to give it a try...

I realized I had to create a new tradition with a new kind of drink. It had to be one that would feel like a treat while being low in sugar or caffeine. I didn't want to stay up all night or gain weight by replacing the alcohol with sugar. 

Here are the drinks that I've enjoyed most this past month: 

Tea. I drank lots and lots of tea. Primarily the herbal kind. I tend to like fruity teas that have either apple, berries or citrus. Ones that have a nice strong flavor - not those kind that you have to put two bags in to get any kind of flavor- bleh. 

tea forte valentines image berry tea

Tea Forte herbal tea is a recent find. I like the raspberry nectar and apricot amaretto flavors. Their teas have a strong steep, you really can smell the fruit in them and the aroma is delicious. It's important to employ the senses of taste, smell and sight when savoring the tea in order to fully enjoy and feel satisfied by the experience. It's not that easy to find in stores so I went directly through their website.

 

kusmi bb detox tea product image

 

Kusmi tea BB Detox is another favorite tea. It has green tea, maté, rooibos, guarana, and dandelion, flavored with a hint of grapefruit. I typically drink green tea in the afternoons for a little pick me up and because of its metabolic benefits. I love that this tea has grapefruit in it- it makes for a unique taste and the aroma is divine! 

 

Janna Conner opal stacking rings on model hands holding vintage teacup

Janna Conner Stasya and Izzy opal stacking rings. Photo by Veronica Kablan.  

Flavored Sparkling Water. Plain water gets old fast. To spice things up, I drink lots of soda water. Preferably with low sodium. I either like to put a wedge of lime or lemon in my plain soda water or drink the flavored kinds made from natural juices.  Spindrift and Trader Joe's are my favorite in this category. La Croix is also a good backup. 

 

spindrift grapefruit seltzer drink poured into glass

 

I"m not going to lie. Spindrift is a little pricey, coming in around a $1 a can.  I've found it at Trader Joe's, Target and even Costco. Target and Costco are the least expensive - around 50 cents a can. But I can justify the indulgence because  it's delicious! It is the most natural tasting flavored seltzer I've had and I've tried them all. It uses real juice (about 10%) and doesn't have sugar or a weird chemical taste. It tastes exactly like the fruit pictured on the front of the can. It ranges in calories from 5-17 and no sodium so you can indulge without guilt! I love grapefruit and blackberry the best. The lemon one is also good - as is the cucumber one if you want a spa like experience. I want to try Strawberry but haven't seen it in the stores yet! 

 

trader joes flavored seltzer water with fruit

 

Trader Joe's has new a flavored seltzer water that I suspect is to compete with Spindrift. It's also good but not as good as Spindrift.

Sparkling water just feels more festive and helps me forget that I'm drinking water. Don't just drink it out of the can, putting it in a nice glass  makes you feel like you're having an indulgent drink. I like to put mine in a Crate N'Barrel highball or even my Baccarat champagne coupes. Why not?!

Mocktails. When I'm at a social gathering and want to feel festive while trying to watch my alcohol intake and calories, mocktails fit the bill. Wine spritzers just sound gross to me. I just can't get behind pouring soda water in my wine, it seems criminal to me to ruin a good glass of wine. If I am drinking alcohol I try to alternate between each glass of wine with one glass of sparking water. However, as with Dry January when I'm not drinking, I find adding a splash of fruit juice can really liven up sparkling water. I like a splash of cranberry with a wedge of lime, or  or this Rosemary, Honey and Grapefruit Spritzer recipe, courtesy of Tending the Table. It's refreshingly tart, not too sweet yet herbacious. The secret to mocktails is to keep them light in color, meaning don't go overboard with the added juice. Pale color means less juice and calories. We don't want to undo all the good we're doing by replacing alcohol with unnecessary sugar and calories. Just adding a splash to give a flavor accent to the water is ideal. 

 

 rosemary honey grapefruit mocktail

  
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup honey
4  sprigs rosemary
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from about 5 grapefruit)
crushed ice
soda water
rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges to garnish
PROCEDURE
Combine the honey and rosemary in a small pot and gently heat over medium-low until the honey just begins to bubble around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile fill 4 glasses with crushed ice. Once the honey has cooled slightly, remove the sprigs of rosemary and transfer 1/4 cup of the infused honey to a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the grapefruit juice and shake vigorously until combined and frothy. Divide the mixture between the glasses and top with soda water. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges.

 

As with all meaningful life changes, Dry January was hard at first and became easier as time went by. It certainly didn't hurt that I had the flu for 2 weeks of it and was bedridden with a fever. I realized that I had come to rely on that nightly glass of wine to punctuate the end of my work day and the beginning of me-time. Working from home, those lines are often blurred so for me it was important to have some kind of ritual to signal relaxation time.

I held strong though and made it through the month and am still going strong as I write this. I sat through the Super Bowl without a margarita, an annual dinner with friends, and attended a fancy birthday party - all without drinking. Something I would have never fathomed a few months before. The only other time I had gone this long without drinking in the past 10 years was when I was pregnant with my son. Now, I've become more selective about my drinking. Whereas before I would finish a glass of wine whether I liked it or not,  I'm now pausing to reflect if I really want to drink it after all and why. I'm choosing whether I want to have dessert or a drink but both. I'm not saying I will do this forever, I'm sure I will fall off the wagon at some point but I am trying to being more mindful about what I'm drinking and when and savoring it when I do make the choice to indulge.

Have you tried Dry January? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!


19 comments


  • Diana

    Good on you! Keep up the good work -the body appreciates the dedication !


  • Susan

    Kudos to you for making it through the whole month! It’s hard to keep up a new and temporary habit for that long! Love all of these non-alcoholic drink suggestions – I find sparkling waters are very hit or miss, so I’ll give Spindrift a try!


  • Jennifer Morrison

    I have never heard of a dry January before, but I don’t drink much either. I love the idea of flavored waters, dressed up a little to make things festive. We have had alcohol free Sangria for years and my whole family really loves it. The little kids love fishing little bits of fruit out of the glass.


  • Tessa

    I have actually never heard of Dry January but it definitely makes sense to detox after all the celebrating from the holidays. I am glad you were able to find other options to get you by. I absolutely love sparkling water and teas!


  • Beth

    Hot tea and flavored sparking water are always my go-to beverages. I never thought about making mocktails, however – great idea! That spritzer sounds delicious!


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