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Sober? Here Are Some Foods to Watch out For

Why We’re Cautious

Understanding that alcoholism and addiction is a two-fold illness—a physical allergy and a mental obsession—necessitates that those in sobriety carefully watch for foods which might contain alcohol.

Whether intended or not, sometimes even a slight trace of alcohol can cause the body to suddenly crave more. It’s an allergic reaction that’s involuntary. A person does not know how much or how little will cause this allergic reaction, so abstinence is the watchword.

Read Carefully, Inquire Quietly

Entrées knowingly prepared with alcohol are best avoided. Read preparation and ingredient descriptions carefully. Some are obvious, such as “swordfish cooked in white wine” or the “Jack Daniels Cheesecake” are dead giveaways.

It’s simple to find an alternative or ask if the dish can easily be prepared in another fashion. “I’d love to try the swordfish and see that you also grill seafood, could I have my swordfish grilled rather than cooked with wine?” is a simple example.

Quietly inquire from your host if you’re attending a dinner party about the contents of any food you suspect might have alcohol in it. Don’t ask them to make a ruling, but politely ask about ingredients and how a certain food is prepared. Make a judgement call from there or ask someone with experience in such matters.

Servers May or May Not Know

Frequently a well-intentioned restaurant server will say that the Irish Bread Pudding has whiskey in it, but it’s been “cooked out.” The unsuspecting guest will then take a bite to discover is tastes like it just came from a St. Patrick’s Day party. “Cooked out” can be a subjective term.

Or perhaps the alcohol within the bread pudding was “cooked out” but the person serving it forgets to mention there’s a healthy dollop of a whisky-based glaze poured over the whole

concoction. People don’t have our special needs in mind so we have to have a heightened awareness.

Servers may not be well versed in what will cause a physical allergic reaction to alcohol. On the other hand, experienced servers or those who have personal knowledge of addiction, may understand the situation perfectly.

Make a Special Request

If you’re at a restaurant or a buffet where is seems like everything is swimming in alcohol, make a special request. This is particularly true with desserts. Keep in mind that most establishments also serve children and those under age, so they likely have sorbet, ice cream, cookies, or a number of options to honor a special request.

Another alternative is to ask that foods be prepared without alcohol if possible. Or the alcohol to be left off, for example, a “lamb chop with red wine hollandaise” may be just as mouth-watering with chives and sour cream on top. Most restaurants welcome such requests with complete understanding. And not surprisingly, have heard this before.

Bartenders Are Busy

A lot of us still enjoy a Virgin Bloody Mary for the simple reason they’re tasty, spicy and awaken the taste buds. But bartenders and servers are busy and may forget or mix up which drink is which. It’s always a safe practice to taste a small amount of the drink once it arrives with a straw to make certain it is without vodka. Or discretely ask whoever you’re dining with to double check the “virgin-ness” of your drink.

Bon Appetite without Self Consciousness

Wondering how to explain your aversion to alcohol to a server, hosts or others? It’s simple and doesn’t require a lengthy explanation. Tell them you’re allergic to alcohol, which oddly enough, is not unusual.

In an era where special requests have become the norm, people barely think twice when someone avoids wheat, nuts, shellfish or dairy. Your request for an alcohol-free experience is unlikely to cause a ripple in your culinary experience.

And whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice who’s wondering how to cook without alcohol, look online for substitutes for alcohol in food prep.

Want to get sober? Call today for a free, confidential addiction screening: 561-841-1296.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.