5 tips for drinking more mindfully

by | Apr 22, 2022 | Last updated Apr 30, 2022

Do you reach for a glass of wine after work out of habit, even if you aren’t necessarily feeling like a drink? Have you ever ordered a third cocktail while out to dinner with friends just because everyone else was ordering another round? How many times have you ordered a beer at a baseball or football game because it’s part of the atmosphere? 

It’s easy to get carried away: one glass of wine turns into three, or brunch offers bottomless mimosas, and we stop counting our drinks. Not only can drinking more alcoholic beverages than you intend to interfere with your weight-loss efforts, it might also come with some negative physical and mental health effects that don’t feel good for you. Enjoying your drinks mindfully is one way to moderate your drinking and actually savor your beverage rather than downing another one without thinking.

If booze is part of your lifestyle and you’re also on a journey to improve your health, you might be curious about how to enjoy it more mindfully. Drinking has become so ingrained in our culture that, half of the time, we probably don’t even realize we’re drinking alcohol. It’s not that ordering drinks out with friends or pouring a beverage in the evening after a stressful day is bad, but it’s important to enjoy alcohol responsibly and intentionally.

If you’re looking to drink more mindfully, check out these five tips. 

Tip 1: Know your why

It might seem simple, but the first step to drinking more mindfully is asking yourself why you are reaching for an alcoholic beverage. Are you looking to unwind after a long day or using it as a distraction from uncomfortable feelings? Are you enjoying time with friends or just drinking because everyone else is? All of these can be understandable, but they are not the healthiest habits (nor the habits that will help you reach your health goals). Ask yourself if you’re making a conscious decision or if it’s simply out of habit and something you might regret later.

Tip 2: Truly savor your drink 

Think about which alcoholic beverages you truly enjoy—maybe it’s a nice glass of wine, a well-made cocktail, or a local craft beer. After you order or make your drink, make sure you savor each sip and be mindful about what you’re drinking. Put your glass down between sips and notice the flavors as they hit your mouth, how the drink makes you feel, and appreciate the environment in which you are sipping. Take at least 10 minutes after you finish your first drink to decide if you would actually like another, or if you’re feeling satisfied after one. 

Tip 3: Have a plan in place

Before heading into a social event where alcohol will be served, come up with a plan. Give yourself a drink limit and stick to it. And if you’re going out to a bar or restaurant, check out the menu ahead of time and decide which drink(s) you will be ordering. 

In addition to savoring each beverage, be prepared with a few responses to give to people who might ask why you aren’t ordering another. It can be as simple as letting people know you aren’t feeling it, or something more specific like needing to get up early the next morning. (Note: You never need to justify not drinking, but many people find it easier to say no in the moment by sharing a reason.) 

Tip 4: Order first 

If you’re going out to eat with a friend or a group of people, it’s easy to get sucked into peer pressure: if everyone else is ordering a cocktail, you might feel like people are judging you if you don’t. But this is a thought distortion known as “mind reading,” or assuming what others are thinking. In reality, people probably won’t think much about you not ordering an alcoholic drink (and if someone makes a comment, planning a response ahead of time can also help). 

To avoid the influence of others in the first place, be the person to order first and set the tone for the rest of the group. If it’s a Sunday brunch where you don’t feel like drinking, order a virgin Bloody Mary or a fresh-squeezed juice instead. If you order a non-alcoholic drink, others might follow suit. Adults are allowed to make their own decisions, and it’s no one else’s business how you decide to order.

Tip 5: Plan activities that don’t revolve around alcohol

Once you start to make an effort to cut back on drinking, you’ll probably notice how many social events revolve around alcohol. If your group’s go-to is meeting for happy hour or Sunday Fundays at the local pub, plan something that isn’t so focused on booze. Try booking a spot at a shuffleboard club (it’s not just for retirees and cruise ships!), visiting an exhibit at a local museum, going for a scenic hike, watching live music, or at least picking a venue that offers games (like a bar with an arcade or an assortment of board games).

We hope that these five tips will help you bring more mindfulness to your alcohol consumption and help you find your healthy balance. If you’re looking to bring more mindful awareness and intention to your choices, check out Noom Weight or Noom Mood today.