Eating Out When Sober
I receive questions all the time in my Quit Drinking Boot Camps and from my coaching clients about eating out while being sober.
They are great questions. With the pervasiveness of alcohol in our society and the place of status, it is given as a required part of a social evening, eating out can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be.
What foods are safe to eat?
First, there is the question about what foods are safe to eat. If a food has been cooked with alcohol, can you eat it? As a rule of thumb, if the food has been heated, it is fairly safe to say that the alcohol has been cooked out, and all you will be left with is the essence of the original alcohol and its taste.
The preparation of cold foods, however, doesn’t give the alcohol a chance to evaporate, and they are best avoided.
Cold foods with alcohol are usually desserts. Tiramisu, for example, is just a sugary sponge soaked with alcohol, and while not containing enough alcohol to get you drunk (unless my mother made it), it is still best to avoid foods like these.
Why should you avoid these foods?
Because even that small amount of alcohol can wake up what I like to call “the evil clown.” The evil clown is that voice of the addiction, the one that tells you, “It’s been a long day; you deserve a drink,” or “Everyone is enjoying a drink; you will be left out if you don’t join them.”
That voice in your head!
We often mistake this voice for our own. We come to believe that we are our addiction. And this false belief leads us to conclude there is something wrong with us, that we are broken, weak, pathetic, selfish, and any number of other labels we give ourselves. But I can tell you – this is simply not true.
If you have a problem with alcohol, it is not because there is anything wrong with you; it is because alcohol is a drug, a highly addictive drug. And what can happen when you ingest a highly addictive drug? You can become addicted. It’s that simple. We must separate ourselves from the addiction.
But that voice doesn’t go away just because we understand the nature of the addiction. That voice, the evil clown, has set up camp and isn’t going anywhere.
Now, that may sound discouraging, even depressing. I wish I could tell you otherwise. But, what I can tell you is that we can starve it of food, deprive it of oxygen, lock it in a tiny box, and put it in a deep, deep, coma.
The trap of alcohol in food
You can live the rest of your life with that clown in a coma if you choose. However, if you eat that food that has a little bit of alcohol in it, it won’t get you drunk, but it can wake up the clown. And once awakened, that clown is going to try to kick you and make you miserable and pull you back into the cycle of addiction – because that is what it does.
That is how the drug works. It makes you miserable, knowing that to escape the misery you will take more of the drug. You will take the drug to gain pleasure. Then the drug will take away the pleasure, giving you more pain.
You don’t want to feel the pain, and the drug knows this, so it offers you a solution. Then it removes the solution, returning you to pain. And this is how the cycle continues.
Drinking out can be so elegant, so fancy. Won’t I be missing out?
I can relate. I remember very well an exceedingly hot summer day in Cyprus, where I live, when a friend and I, exhausted and hot, went into a bar to cool off and refresh. My friend ordered a beer and I ordered a diet coke.
For my friend, the bartender reached into the freezer and pulled out a beautiful glass – more of a chalice, really, a fancy goblet like you might see on Game of Thrones! A thin layer of glistening, smooth ice coated the outside.
He gracefully pulled forward the handle on the ornate tap, and a smooth, golden liquid flowed into the glass, causing the ice to crackle and foamy bubbles to rise to the surface. It was a thing of beauty.
Next, it was time for my diet coke. The bartender scrounged for a plain, warm glass from somewhere under the counter and unceremoniously squirted plain brown soda into it and plunked it down in front of me.
Where is the magic?
YES! I felt deprived. I felt ripped off. Not because I wanted the beer, but because I wanted the experience! I wanted the theater of it all.
Why did my drink not come with the magic performance? Because my drink doesn’t make the bar any money! Sales of soda don’t keep a bar or restaurant in business. Even sales of food don’t make a profit. But, sales of this overpriced drug do.
And we know it’s overpriced. You can find the same bottle of wine that you saw at the grocery store selling for $10 listed on the restaurant menu for $50!
How do they get away with it?
Because it is ingrained in our society, into our collective consciousness, that when we go out for a meal, we drink wine (or whatever might be your particular choice of fancy, revered poison). And because the drinking customers bring the money, they are the ones the restaurant is going to perform for, cater to, and try to hypnotize.
It is not the alcohol they are selling; it is the experience. It’s the illusion. And we are all too happy to buy it.
Once you see the illusion for what it is, you can go into a restaurant and laugh. You can be a spectator and watch the performance and realize you are not missing out at all.
So, do I have to drink water and soda for the rest of my life?
Not at all. You don’t need to choose between water or poison. As more people catch on to the true nature of the drug, more alcohol-free options are becoming available in restaurants. Treat yourself to some of these satisfying, exotic mocktails.
In many restaurants, you can even bring your own bottle of alcohol-free wine or some other fancy drink you enjoy.
They may charge a corkage fee, but the added expense is still less than if you purchased their marked-up beverages. You can dine out with friends, smile knowingly at the theater you are watching, and enjoy your own fancy beverage – drug-free. All while keeping the evil clown in his deep coma.
If you are concerned about your drinking and have decided now is the time to do something about it, visit my website at www.stopdrinkingexpert.com and join the free webinar. I will even send you a copy of my best-selling book, Alcohol Lied to Me, just for watching.
Or click here to find out more about my ‘live’ quit drinking seminars.