Some months back I wrote an article on Evening Drinks. In this article, I want to provide a little update with some further thoughts and ideas on the topic, including a great new Evening Drink recipe I’ve been using.
To recap, I spent the first 4 1/2 months of the year drink-free, which was a great experience. I could feel the cobwebs lift from the brain and energy return to my body. While I’m not a big fan of substitutes in one’s diet (i.e. like eating Tofurkey instead of turkey, or finding a substitute for bread in a meal if you want to lose the carbs), I find drinking substitutes incredibly helpful to me.
For me, having a drink at the end of the day marks a shift from daytime activities to evening activities. It marks a point when the focus shifts from work to relaxing and enjoying the end of the day, whether I continue to putter at some work things or not (which frankly I do most nights because of the nature of my work). Over the years, it has become habitual for me to mark this transition with a shift in the kinds of beverages I am consuming. I used to think this transition involved alcohol and I equated this shift with a lifting of the stress of the day. But I have found, even since resuming some drinking (albeit at a much reduced level compared to what I would have consumed previously), that it is not so much the alcohol that marks this transition as a shift in mindset. The beverage itself seems to be somewhat symbolic.
When I tell ‘drinkers’ my thoughts on this topic (which is essentially everyone I know), the usual reaction is ‘well, I like the deleterious effects of alcohol’. Don’t get me wrong, I like those effect too too – at the time I’m drinking. I also know the feeling of wanting more drinks all too well, which makes it hard to stop at one or two. Problem is, if it goes beyond two (maybe three) drinks in a night, I really regret it the next day. I have experienced this more and more as I get older – particularly past 40, which I crossed a few years back. I can’t recover like I used to in my youth. I feel the impact not only in the quality of my sleep but in my brain function the next day, which is impaired by a combination of a mild hangover and lack of sleep. This feeling really impacts my ability to think and perform the next day. In hindsight, I think I have spent the last 5 or more years in this state.
In my article titled ‘Paleo – Eating like a caveman‘, I talk about the benefits of reducing various forms of sugar from your diet due to the deleterious effects of Inflammation (which is discussed in greater detail in my article titled ‘You absolutely need to know about Inflammation‘). Unfortunately beer is full of carbohydrates, which can increase blood sugar levels in your body and Inflammation. You can find all kinds of articles and information contradicting this opinion, but you have to listen to your body. The world is full of spin, and you can craft and argument for any position. People get paid huge amounts of money to spin facts. Just watch the great documentary ‘Supersize Me‘ to get some insight into this (I have linked to it directly but you can also find a link to this video and others in my ‘Knowledge Base‘. Speaking from personal experience, it is also quite noticeable that when I drink beer, I maintain a very nice layer of fat around my belly, which is amongst the most dangerous forms of fat on the body. When I got off beer, even for a short amount of time, this roll quickly begins to melt away. Beer also makes me feel bloated and sluggish. So as much as I love beer, I am keeping it to an occasional treat at this point.
One form of alcohol that works with our current low-carb, Paleo inspired diet, is Hard Apple Cider. So to provide a small amount of the deleterious effect of alcohol while remaining Paleo-friendly and low-alcohol, I have been adding dry hard apple cider as an ingredient in my Evening Drinks. Here is the recipe I’ve been using, which I’m loving:
Cold ‘Ginger Tea‘ (1/3 of the glass)
Hard Apple Cider (1/8 to 1/4 of the mix)
Cranberry juice (Splash)
Tonic Water and/or Club Soda (Splash)
I serve this drink over ice in a highball glass or even a pint glass. If I don’t have mint I squeeze in a bit of lime. This drink is really tasty and just ever so gently takes the edge off with the bit of alcohol in there while not loading me up with alcohol and carbs. When choosing a hard cider, be careful not to choose one with lots of infused sugars. As you reduce sugar from your diet, you start to realize how much sugar is in EVERYTHING!!!!! There are some lovely craft ciders. I’m in Ireland at the moment and enjoying Stonewell Craft Cider. Be careful of the ones that have no added sugar though. They are a bit nasty in my opinion! You have to find one that suits your taste!