How to Be a Responsible Drinker and Still Have Fun

For many, summer is synonymous with happy hours al fr esco, weekend day drinking, and backyard barbecues. But it’s important to remember to imbibe conscientiously. Here’s advice from Wellness Expert Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN, on how to keep things in check with alcohol this summer.

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How to be more conscious of drinking habits

It’s great that you want to be more mindful when drinking, as it really is the key to a healthy relationship with alcohol. Moderate drinking (generally defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) is okay for most people, but excessive drinking is linked with increased injuries, violence, heart disease, certain cancers, and mental health problems. I recommend first taking stock of where you are now with your drinking and what specifically you’d like to change. Ask yourself some questions: how much do I drink and how quickly? How do I feel when I drink? How do I act when I drink? Getting a clear picture of your habits can help you build strategies that work for you. Here are three ways to be more conscientious while still having fun.

1 Have a plan

Do you really want to drink today? If yes, figure out exactly what you want to drink. Rather than drinking “to get drunk,” consider partaking only in beverages that you genuinely like. If you don’t know what will be available at the party, bring your own drinks.

2 Pause before going for round two

What do you need—another drink, or could a glass of water or a plate of food do the trick? How might you feel after one more drink? It sounds simple, but simply bringing awareness to your habits can make a big difference.

3 Don’t skip meals and snacks when drinking

Having food in your belly can help slow the absorption of alcohol, and “saving up calories” for alcohol or speeding up its effects can be dangerous and unhealthy. So keep your buzz in check by balancing your refreshments with hummus and veggies, salad, or even a vegan hot dog.

RELATED: Vegan Champagne Brands, Sparkling Wines, and the Best Cocktails for the Holidays

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How to make the best mocktails

Not drinking? No problem! The number of health-minded consumers opting for alcohol-free beverages has skyrocketed in recent years. So this summer, join in on the trend and try a mocktail on for size. For lots of flavor and fun without the un-fun hangover the next day, consider these thirst-quenching refreshers.

  • Muddle fresh fruit and herbs, add to a glass, and top with seltzer water (combos to try: watermelon and basil, cucumber and mint, pineapple and cilantro, and grapefruit and rosemary)
  • Create a virgin Moscow Mule with ginger beer, lime juice, and fresh mint
  • Combine one part lemonade and one part grapefruit-flavored sparkling water
  • Cool off with iced matcha and creamy coconut milk (use an electric frother to make a cold foam topping)
  • Steep iced black tea with raspberries and slices of fresh peach
  • Whirl up a zero-proof slushie by blending frozen tropical fruit, orange juice, and a splash of soda water
  • Get creative with a mixture of kombucha, watermelon or grapefruit juice, and pomegranate seeds
  • Give your favorite sparkling water the poptail treatment by pouring in a glass and adding a natural fruit popsicle and sliced citrus
  • Perk up with chilled espresso mixed with sparkling water and a splash of oat milk
  • Enjoy a virgin piña colada by combining coconut milk and frozen pineapple in a blender
For more on responsible drinking, read: