10 Nutritionist Tips for Staying Away from Alcohol


Source: iStock

Whether this is your third annual “Dry January” or you are thinking, “Wait, what? ‘Dry January’ is a thing? Who would want to stay off booze for 31 days on purpose?” it is, in fact, becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon, and we think just about as good a resolution as any. You’ll save money; find yourself with more free time to explore things like, who knows, your first hot yoga class, perhaps; you may even drop some weight (liquor, after all, can seriously pack on the pounds). Read on for nutritionists’ secrets to crushing a booze-free January (or, hey, there’s always February).

1. Be smart when you dine out

“When eating out, order a calorie-free seltzer water with lime for a beverage that looks and tastes an awful lot like a zesty vodka soda without the booze. Don’t confuse seltzer water with tonic water, which is a sugary carbonated water, much like regular soda,” advises Janel Funk, MS RD LDN. “When going out to eat choose water with a lemon. Then split a dessert with the whole table. You will get a little indulgence without feeling sluggish the next day,” adds  Mitzi Dulan, RD, Author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin and team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals.

2. Get tight with seltzer water

We’re not talking BAE-status, but it’s worth trying it out this month. Even if you don’t like it plain, listen up! Samantha Cassetty, M.S., R.D. vice president of nutrition at Luvo says:

Seltzer water is a great base for just about any non-alcoholic cocktail. You can add cucumbers, mint, and basil or go fruity with a splash of grapefruit juice and some slices of fresh fruit. It’s completely customizable so you can become your own mixologist. Another way to liven up seltzer is to get crafty with ice cubes. Fill a tray with brewed tea or pop a blackberry or blueberry into each compartment and fill with water. Voila!

3. Tell your friends about your plan to “stay dry”

“It is always good to let them know ahead of time if you are going out with them so they understand that you have made a commitment for January and it can help prevent them from trying to get you to drink,” suggests Dulan. Better yet, do it with a friend or your partner so you have someone to hold you accountable throughout the month and plan fun activities that don’t involve drinking. Try these affordable winter activities your kids will enjoy (even if you don’t have kids, all don’t involve drinking, of course).

4.  Keep the drinking spirit alive

You’ll be able to indulge in this festive sentiment sans hangover, which we’re totally A-OK with. Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, says:

Indulge in the celebratory/behavioral elements of drinking … but without the alcohol! Fill a wine glass with sparkling water and a slice of lime or a martini glass with a green juice, garnished with a slice of pineapple. Find fancy glassware and serve it up in a fun, party-like way. You can also swap the drink for a healthier mocktail, using your favorite combinations of pure fruit juices, fresh fruits, veggies, or herbs, fizzy water, and tea. You can experiment with chia seed beverages and green smoothies for an additional nutrition-boost, too.

5. Replace alcohol with tea

Baby, it’s cold outside anyways. “There are so many interesting varieties of green, black and herbal teas. Teas contain significant amounts of polyphenols that fight diseases in a variety of ways. To make it healthier, add a teaspoon of local raw honey, which is naturally antibacterial,” suggests Mary Hartley, RD, a consulting nutritionist from Providence, Rhode Island.

6. Reward yourself

eating breakfast

Source: iStock

No, not with a cold one. A few bags of your favorite brew of coffee could work though! Funk says:

Remember the main reason why you’re staying dry in January and reward your resolution at the end of the month. Does alcohol-free mean you’ll sleep better each night? Choose a luxurious bed sheet set to purchase at the end of a successful dry January. Are you looking to cut calories you normally consume from booze to help with weight loss? Reward yourself with a mini-shopping spree in February, since a smaller size may be a nice side effect of cutting out those empty calories.

7. Focus on the end game

“Incentivize your goal(s). Clearly picture all of the benefits you are hoping for by passing on the drinks (e.g. losing weight, feeling more clear-headed, or simply detoxing your organs) by writing them down where you can see them,” advises Hever. Even try marking a big red “X” on your desk calendar for every day you stick to your goal so at the end of the month you have a physical representation of just how much you accomplished.

8. Practice your MO when dining out

“Visualize yourself having coffee instead of dessert or saying ‘No, thanks’ when the server asks if you want to see the dessert menu. This type of mental rehearsal is similar to a technique used by elite athletes. Walking through the steps and visualizing the outcome helps put you in the zone so you can reach your goals,” recommends Cassetty. Do the same with booze: Picture yourself saying no and rehearse the scenario a few times in your head (and even how you’ll tell your friends at happy hour, “Thanks, but I’m sticking to water this month!”) to help make the scenario feel more approachable and natural.

9. Keep a pocket reminder of your commitment

There are countless perks of being on the ‘ole wagon. “Write down the benefits of not drinking (saving money, calculate how much you will save, give your liver a break, research the effects of alcohol on the liver, weight loss due to decreased calories from not drinking, no more hangovers the next day),” suggests Lisa DeFazio, MS, RDN. “Keep this list in your wallet and review it every day. Or keep a copy on the refrigerator or anywhere you will see it daily.”

10. Try some fun mocktails!

Cranberry, cocktail, mint

Source: iStock

Clinking glasses filled with tasty libations feels festive and fun even when no alcohol is involved; just try it for yourself and see. Dulan, author of The Pinterest Diet: How to Pin Your Way Thin, shares two favorites from her book. Cheers!

Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade

Makes 1 serving


  • ½ cup watermelon
  • 3 California strawberries
  • 4 ounces lemon LaCroix sparkling water
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 lemon wedge

Directions: Blend together watermelon and strawberries. Pour into glass and top with lemon sparkling water and lemon juice. Stir gently. For a garnish, add a lemon wedge to the rim of the glass.

Cherry Berry Punch

Makes 1 serving


  • 6 ounces cran-raspberry LaCroix Sparkling Water
  • 1 to 2 ounces tart cherry juice

Directions: Fill half your glass with chilled cran-raspberry sparkling water. Top with tart cherry juice. Stir gently. You can add a few frozen berries.

Follow Perri on Twitter @66PerriStreet

More from Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet: