7 ways to drink less this summer (and still enjoy it)


Want a sober summer? From reframing FOMO to JOMO to being mindful of your alcohol consumption, here are some top tips for a summer off the sauce

alcohol drinking cocktails

Be it Pimm’s, prosecco or an ice-cold pint, British summer time is drenched in booze; and those keen on a tipple or two admit to drinking more when the warmer weather hits

Millennials, people aged between 27 and 42, are proving to take sobriety more seriously than their elders, namely Generation X and Boomers, according to not-for-profit Alcohol Change UK

Meanwhile, a national survey found that almost one third of 16 to 24-year-olds are shunning alcohol altogether. And with the World Health Organisation declaring “there is no safe alcohol consumption” earlier this year, perhaps it’s with good reason they have sworn off the sauce.  

In response to the increase, alcohol-free bars are mushrooming all over the country, while the UK’s alcohol-free beer market is predicted to grow almost 10% by the end of 2023.

And with breweries and brands out to wet the whistle of all consumers, there are dozens of alternatives to try. After all, abstinence doesn’t have to be bland – and neither should your summer for it! 

Worth a shot

It’s well documented that reducing alcohol consumption is good for our health, including reducing our risk of liver and heart disease. But there’s another perk to trying a sober summer.

Alcohol’s dehydrating properties are particularly problematic in summer. As a diuretic, a substance that promotes water loss through urine, alcohol rids the body of more fluids than it takes in.

So, when combined with increased summer sweating, your risk of dehydration is heightened. Not ideal when the UK just recorded its hottest temperatures in history. A sweltering 40.3°C, as recorded by the Met Office. So, what are the best ways to go booze-free?

It's JOMO not FOMO

“Change your mindset and reframe your thoughts,” says David McLaughlan, visiting consultant at The Priory Hospital Roehampton and co-founder of Alma, an app that helps people to reduce their alcohol consumption.

“Instead of missing out on summer drunkenness, think about all the things that summer sobriety will give you.” Bear in mind that by not drinking, you’re more likely to remember your evening and be fully present.

Plus waking with a clear head, ready to make the most of a gorgeous summer day, trumps a day wasted in bed with the mother of all hangovers. Rather than FOMO, why not reframing it as JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out)?

Be mindful

David explains that by mindfully drinking you are able to take back control of your intake. “Mindful drinking is an approach to drinking whereby you increase your sense of awareness of your drinking behaviour at that moment in time,” he explains.

By being aware of your intake and savouring every sip, you can forge a healthier relationship with alcohol and lower your consumption. “I often tell my patients to ask themselves, ‘How is this drink serving me, in this present moment?’ or ‘What purpose is it serving?’ and ‘What has led me to want this drink?’”

Go low

Switch to lighter drinks. Beers under 4%, and white or rosé spritzers instead are good options. Or opt for one of the many low or non-alcoholic drinks and recreate your favourite cocktail. “Low and no-alcohol drinks can be a useful alternative to help moderate drinkers cut down,” notes David.


But he stresses to air on the side of caution. “There is a consensus amongst clinicians that low or non-alcoholic drinks can be an unhelpful reminder of old drinking patterns for heavy drinkers.

“However, there aren’t any hard and concrete rules. My personal approach is that people should try different approaches and see what works best for them.”

And don’t forget to alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water.

Shake up your social plans

Socialising does not always have to involve drinking. A good way to sever ties with drinking is to rethink your plans so they don’t revolve so heavily around alcohol.

“Plan activities in venues without alcohol, like art galleries, sports clubs or walks in the outdoors,” recommends David. He also advises being mindful of spending time with heavy drinkers.

“We're social creatures and it’s hard to resist drinking when you encounter a herd mentality. One tip is to avoid drinking in rounds. Drink at your own pace, not the fastest person in the group.”

Have a game plan

They say a goal without a plan is just a wish, so give yourself the best chance by planning ahead. Before you go out, set a drinking budget or limit to how many drinks you can have and stick to it.

David says: “‘It’s all about setting your intention before you start drinking and sharing those intentions with family and friends who will hold you to account. Holding yourself to account with the people who are important to you hugely increases your chances of succeeding at your drinking goal.”

Play by the rules

Attach non-negotiable rules to your drinking to help you cut down without even noticing. You might delay your first drink to a milestone later in your day, for example, after exercise rather than after work, or only drink with your main meal.

“I often advise people to always have a glass of water next to their wine glass when they're having dinner, and make sure that your first drink on a hot summer's day is a soft drink,” adds David. “Essentially, make sure you’re drinking alcohol to enjoy the drink, not to quench a thirst.”

Remember your motivation

If you find yourself tempted, reminding yourself of why you’re cutting back can be a useful tool to stay on track. A helpful tip can be writing down the reason you want to drink less and keep it handy. It could be on your phone or on a piece of paper in a trouser pocket.

“This can really help as an ‘in the moment’ intervention at the point of temptation or cravings,” David notes.

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