4

votes

How did you wean yourself off beer?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 12, 2011 at 3:04 AM

I enjoy a couple of beers three or four times a week, but I've come to realize that I really need to stop drinking the stuff. I wonder if going cold turkey would be better than trying to gradually wean myself off? Or would you recommend not going for total avoidance and allowing an occasional beer? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

37f4b3c51afbd92d259afaa171270874

(1219)

on July 18, 2011
at 06:01 PM

Thanks Zach. You have a great go to article when the subject of paleo and alcohol come up.

1d48caa387c73a3a3ba0c825d07864c6

on July 14, 2011
at 12:21 AM

...but I read your site and your comments on other sites with interest...

1d48caa387c73a3a3ba0c825d07864c6

on July 14, 2011
at 12:10 AM

Michael, thanks for the shout out for Loretta's piece "The Drunken Monkey." I'm a big fan of your writing. My home/work tempo has prevented me from participating in the ongoing paleo dialogue in recent months, but I read your site and comment on other sites with interest. Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito! Best Regards, Zach

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 13, 2011
at 07:57 PM

Tell me about it. Taking alcohol completely out of the picture, I wonder if hops are addictive on their own?

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 13, 2011
at 02:10 PM

Cool. This is the article I first read about it in: http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com/?p=428

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:24 PM

Interesting; not heard of kombucha before. There's a Chinese medicine shop just down the road from where I live. Bet they can sort me out!

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:16 PM

@RicoPags - I guess that's a decent followup question. But no, my advice is that if you find a reason that's important to you to make a change, you'll make a change. If you can't find that reason, then maybe that change isn't important enough to you.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:15 PM

Verry interesting Riveted. Thanks for that. I am going to look into L-Glut for sure.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:09 PM

Yeah...once you get the taste for hops, it's all you think about on a hot summer day (cold winter night, moderate fall afternoon, drizzly spring morning...you get the picture).

E65fbf7cf9f3febf0f6bfbbd6530e87d

(210)

on July 13, 2011
at 03:45 AM

so your advice is to have children?

D3b41912de6b7f60753b8e6063c9b05a

(362)

on July 13, 2011
at 02:33 AM

I like Crispin Hard Cider. I also will drink red wine or a vodka & soda water with lemon. But, I can't have any gluten. I know many people who just cut way back on the beer.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:43 PM

I upvote and second the sugar addiction-beer consumption connection. My desire to drink has essentially disappeared along with my reduction of dietary carbohydrate.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:06 PM

kombucha and malbecs for me. No beer in 7 years.

D9032e4f6540f9e6bcbb07143002bedd

(449)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:05 PM

Kathi...do you really not know about the American craft beer scene? Our commercial beers are watery but we have hundreds of world class breweries.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I get that. I rarely ever feel like drinking after a meal, so in the early stages of the battle, I would stay paleo-full as much as possible. Water helps with that too.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:48 PM

Funny you mention the actual addiction to carbs - in Dan John's book he commented that he was amazed how much of his "alcohol problem" was simple thirst, and by drinking himself stupid with water every night he actually curbed it.

698db94d83dee10d6ada8cc0128d45fc

(1048)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:22 PM

Most people just aren't going to ditch beer for life, your best bet is to realize if you are going to inbibe then pick the worst of your evils. As Mikey said hard liquor is your best bet. I love beer, and occasionally I will drink a beer but its rare these days. I am not a scotch man and find drinking more like I do food now - quality not quantity. A good scotch is incomparable. But for your regular drinks whats wrong with dry white wine when you want a refreshing drink mixed with some carbonated water? Or tequila+lime+carbonated water.. or vodka water or hell pretty much any hard liquor lol

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:20 PM

I used wine (and the occasional tequila).

B1fcaceba952861d0324bdb291edbbe0

(3159)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:15 PM

I'm fine with people drinking but awww what a wonderful gesture as a father. :)

Fac1af832cc3c6a20059c41411fd0f6b

(1548)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:48 AM

YES!! Wandering Aengus cider is most wonderful. I like the Wander lust version, but the varietals are good too. I keep looking for other ciders but they are hard to come by up here. Watch out for cheap kinds that tend to be carbonated sugarwater with booze in them.

F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

(180)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:12 AM

FYI, there is gluten free beer out there, which doesn't taste too bad, imho. It does use grains like rice and corn and sorghum, however.

51b472fa449ab0e5433f27dcd799fedd

(1091)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:56 AM

Fully agreed. Beer is my hobby, so I’ve made it my primary cheat, which means I try to cheat a lot less with anything else – most of the time it’s my only cheat. However I’m currently trying to cut my consumption to 1–2 bombers per week and switching over a bit to whiskey. Much harder to try a large variety of whiskeys though.

F78bfa3ae7886d1ebdbcbc37c0a1b085

(50)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:07 AM

Adding another vote for kombucha and also the sparkling water with lime essence. This does the trick 90% of the time, the other 10% I just treat myself to a beer and make sure it is REALLY a good one. Living in Portland, great microbrew is EVERYWHERE.

3e6c0ab969e49e2f341d6a55ac771cc4

(420)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:06 AM

I agree, I went completely off beer in January and it totally messed with my mojo. My lifts went down, I was not as jovial. I do way better with 2-3 beers 3-4 times a week. Cider is gluten free, but it has too much sugar for my taste.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:49 AM

why bother? really? why bother doing anything ever?

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:34 AM

i used kombucha too.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 12, 2011
at 03:31 AM

I used kombuca..

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Gluten Free!!!!

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21 Answers

10
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:19 AM

I had a friend casually mention to me, in reference to my then 1 year old son, something to the effect of "Hard to be a good dad when you're going out on a bender every night". He was exaggerating for effect (because my drinking was more like two or three beers five or six times a week), but it took.

I stopped drinking that night. (Well, technically the night before). That was a few years ago.

These days I'll have an occasional glass of wine with dinner, or a cocktail with friends (which happens VERY rarely (see above re: my young son)), but I'm pretty much a non-drinker.

B1fcaceba952861d0324bdb291edbbe0

(3159)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:15 PM

I'm fine with people drinking but awww what a wonderful gesture as a father. :)

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:16 PM

@RicoPags - I guess that's a decent followup question. But no, my advice is that if you find a reason that's important to you to make a change, you'll make a change. If you can't find that reason, then maybe that change isn't important enough to you.

E65fbf7cf9f3febf0f6bfbbd6530e87d

(210)

on July 13, 2011
at 03:45 AM

so your advice is to have children?

5
Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:08 PM

In my experience with paleo, weight loss, and autoimmunity over the past year, "the beer issue" has been the bugbear constantly lurking in the woods of my subconscious. If you have a love for good beer (hoppy craft brewed IPAs are my downfall), using the same strategy as you did for quitting cupcakes just ain't gonna work. For one thing the buzz is not the same, cupcakes don't make you feel temporarily invincible, and rarely in my life have I ever met up with my closest friends for a round of cupcakes after a tough week at work. Grab a six of cupcakes and go sailing for the afternoon? Only if I want to get thrown off the boat.

Sorry...I'm being facetious. My point is that, for some people, a relationship with beer is complicated (not that cupcakes aren't, it's just a little different). I tried many of the valid approaches suggested here. I switched to crappy beer (maybe I'll stop liking it), light beer (fewer carbs...drink more!), wine and hard liquor (oops...now I drink it all), gluten free (that sucked), and quitting cold turkey (more wine and bourbon please). Only one thing actually worked: L-Glutamine. I swear, that harmless, tasteless little powder broke me.

My thinking around my relationship with beer changed after watching Fat Head (Tom Naughton). I realized that my craving for beer and inability to let it go was basically an addiction to sugar and the metabolic roller coaster it puts me on. His movie and podcast interview led me to Nora Gedgaudas, who explains the whole sugar-alcohol addiction mechanism, and she recommended L-Glutamine as a solution. Once my "addiction" was broken, I was able to have a beer or two every now and then without developing a daily craving. That took about 3 months. Incidentally, I still drink but lean more toward vodka, bourbon, and wine. Cleaner buzz, less bloat (not as satisfying, however, on a hot Saturday afternoon...).

So it depends what you really want to do. Enjoy it in moderation or break the "addiction". If it's no big deal, try dialling it back. If you want to learn to resist its siren song, give the L-Glut a try.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I get that. I rarely ever feel like drinking after a meal, so in the early stages of the battle, I would stay paleo-full as much as possible. Water helps with that too.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:43 PM

I upvote and second the sugar addiction-beer consumption connection. My desire to drink has essentially disappeared along with my reduction of dietary carbohydrate.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:15 PM

Verry interesting Riveted. Thanks for that. I am going to look into L-Glut for sure.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:48 PM

Funny you mention the actual addiction to carbs - in Dan John's book he commented that he was amazed how much of his "alcohol problem" was simple thirst, and by drinking himself stupid with water every night he actually curbed it.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 13, 2011
at 02:10 PM

Cool. This is the article I first read about it in: http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com/?p=428

5
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on July 12, 2011
at 03:41 AM

If you have decided that you really need to quit and it's only a matter of how, then cold turkey is the best by far. Rip off that bandaid and get to it.

4
Fac1af832cc3c6a20059c41411fd0f6b

(1548)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:56 AM

Hard liquor and mixed drinks for me for the most part, followed by various ciders.

I have recently developed a taste for brandy. I had been looking for a liquor that I could drink without having to mix it and brandy and cognac are what I have settled on. Tito's vodka proudly states it is gluten free, and it is really good vodka for the $. They should have a plaque dedicated to my liver in their headquarters.

There are some really good gluten free beers out there. Bard's Tale is really top notch. Even Anheuser's Red Bridge isn't too bad.

Personally I think fermentation is an ancient way of food preservation and should be considered acceptable in moderation.

698db94d83dee10d6ada8cc0128d45fc

(1048)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:22 PM

Most people just aren't going to ditch beer for life, your best bet is to realize if you are going to inbibe then pick the worst of your evils. As Mikey said hard liquor is your best bet. I love beer, and occasionally I will drink a beer but its rare these days. I am not a scotch man and find drinking more like I do food now - quality not quantity. A good scotch is incomparable. But for your regular drinks whats wrong with dry white wine when you want a refreshing drink mixed with some carbonated water? Or tequila+lime+carbonated water.. or vodka water or hell pretty much any hard liquor lol

4
37f4b3c51afbd92d259afaa171270874

on July 12, 2011
at 06:07 AM

I am also in the "why bother?" brigade. If alcohol is messing with your life then by all means take whatever steps you need to get things under control, but if you are giving it up under the guise that it is not "paleo" then perhaps you need to re-think that.

We already know that animals know how to get a good buzz on by eating rotting fruit (and shaking a tree down to get at more of it), so its not like alcohol consumption doesn't occur in nature when the opportunity presents itself.

On this point, just like saturated fat, Cordain is wrong. Check out this post from The Paleo Garden:

A Matter of Life or Myth: The Drunken Monkey

why humans love getting high (Part I)

Enjoy!

1d48caa387c73a3a3ba0c825d07864c6

on July 14, 2011
at 12:21 AM

...but I read your site and your comments on other sites with interest...

1d48caa387c73a3a3ba0c825d07864c6

on July 14, 2011
at 12:10 AM

Michael, thanks for the shout out for Loretta's piece "The Drunken Monkey." I'm a big fan of your writing. My home/work tempo has prevented me from participating in the ongoing paleo dialogue in recent months, but I read your site and comment on other sites with interest. Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito! Best Regards, Zach

37f4b3c51afbd92d259afaa171270874

(1219)

on July 18, 2011
at 06:01 PM

Thanks Zach. You have a great go to article when the subject of paleo and alcohol come up.

3
Fe535c4994ac6176f76e1ff6d29eb08a

on July 12, 2011
at 04:27 AM

I switched to whiskey, the key of course is being careful, if you're used to beer, it can go down a little too quickly and you can get shithoused kinda quick. I order a glass of ice water to go along with it, and a whisky and an ice water goes down in about the same time as a beer did. Keeps you hydrated and the hangovers at bay as well.

3
D9032e4f6540f9e6bcbb07143002bedd

(449)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:37 AM

I'll throw you a curveball...why bother? I'm very VERY paleo except for beer. I love beer. I can't imagine a day on the river without a Tecate or a post surf Stone Pale Ale. Don't beat yourself up...just don't overdo it.

51b472fa449ab0e5433f27dcd799fedd

(1091)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:56 AM

Fully agreed. Beer is my hobby, so I’ve made it my primary cheat, which means I try to cheat a lot less with anything else – most of the time it’s my only cheat. However I’m currently trying to cut my consumption to 1–2 bombers per week and switching over a bit to whiskey. Much harder to try a large variety of whiskeys though.

3e6c0ab969e49e2f341d6a55ac771cc4

(420)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:06 AM

I agree, I went completely off beer in January and it totally messed with my mojo. My lifts went down, I was not as jovial. I do way better with 2-3 beers 3-4 times a week. Cider is gluten free, but it has too much sugar for my taste.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:49 AM

why bother? really? why bother doing anything ever?

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:12 AM

Hard Apple Cider!!!!!!!!

Fac1af832cc3c6a20059c41411fd0f6b

(1548)

on July 12, 2011
at 08:48 AM

YES!! Wandering Aengus cider is most wonderful. I like the Wander lust version, but the varietals are good too. I keep looking for other ciders but they are hard to come by up here. Watch out for cheap kinds that tend to be carbonated sugarwater with booze in them.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Gluten Free!!!!

D3b41912de6b7f60753b8e6063c9b05a

(362)

on July 13, 2011
at 02:33 AM

I like Crispin Hard Cider. I also will drink red wine or a vodka & soda water with lemon. But, I can't have any gluten. I know many people who just cut way back on the beer.

2
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:54 AM

Weaning yourself off of beer sucks. But you weaned yourself off of cupcakes right?

Personally I feel OK when I have one or two beers and they are made from barley malt. If I have a wheat beer I get destroyed. I also slowly lost my ability to drink beer and not get super hungover so that has cut my consumption.

Have beer if you want, but stay away from wheat beers. Try gluten free beers, but barley-made ones are probably OK. If you're going to drink beer, get GOOD beer. Don't drink budweiser. Not worth it.

2
5e8a68beac4a9264bda5e83995cea382

on July 12, 2011
at 03:22 AM

I switched to a glass of red wine with dinner, so far so good.

That said Cordain says an occasional light beer here or there isn't an awful thing.

2
899a6e214d55ee63e6f5f3d9fd12eac8

on July 12, 2011
at 03:18 AM

I second the hard apple cider!

1
1ccc0b0b7a756cd42466cef8f450d0cb

(1801)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:42 PM

I too was a huge fan of beer. Drinking, brewing, discussing, discovering new types... but when I decided to go paleo I cut it out with all the grain products. Life was lousy for a few weeks or so but I got over it and no longer miss it.

1
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 12, 2011
at 01:34 PM

Ah! A question that is near and dear to my heart. I'm deeply involved in the homebrew/beer community where I live. I work events, partner with other homebrewers to work on flavour profiles, work and attend beer pairing dinners, cook with brew, blahblahblah. My life is very beercentric. So.. I'm in it unless I quit it.

What I did was literally go cold for two months. No brew at_all. I did miss it especially on days when it was warm and a cold really hoppy IPA would have been amazingly tasty. If I was going to drink it was whiskey or vodka - but kept that at a serious minimum, about a total of 4oz a week during this time frame, sometimes none. I actually chose bars that had bad beer on tap just so there was no temptation, especially if something exceptional was available. After the two months were up, I added brew back in only as an occasional 1/2 pour or a 2oz taste and not a full pint. I feel good and don't need more than that. Whiskey and vodka are still my main go-to's.. especially Rye's. Rittenhouse or Templeton? Yes!

If anyone is interested, I can suggest a few gluten free brews that are actually quite decent: Estrella Daura - fruity, light, nicely effervescent, New Planet Off Grid Pale Ale - a bit sweet but still has a nice bitter hoppy finish, Sprecher Shakparo - tasty, nice and clean, very lambic like but not sweet. Good luck and cheers!

PS: I didn't stop the beer for Paleo, it was more of a reset to my body, physically I wasn't feeling that great with my pints. I definitely feel better when I don't have too much brew so my tastes are satisfactory and I appreciate what I'm drinking more than ever. Current favourite: Lambrucha, a sour/wild ale combo of tart lambic with kombucha, a low ABV that goes down frighteningly easy. Egads, tastycakes.

1
2f931662684a7747be36255c8b486228

(1049)

on July 12, 2011
at 07:55 AM

I switched to wine. Although, I think if I was in the US, I'd give it up for water. It is so watered down anyway......bloats you. You have to drink a gallon just to get a buzz.

I think I will start making some cider though, If I can't find any.......but what's the point really...just so I can justify may naughtiness by saying its "Paleo"?

D9032e4f6540f9e6bcbb07143002bedd

(449)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:05 PM

Kathi...do you really not know about the American craft beer scene? Our commercial beers are watery but we have hundreds of world class breweries.

0
Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

on July 13, 2011
at 05:31 AM

With wine and liquor ;)

0
5514047f3281f61b1139fe6483ae6989

on July 13, 2011
at 04:38 AM

How? Discipline.

0
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Hops tincture or tea. Beer, especially those super yummy, hopped to the rafters IPAs that make me drool, are essentially a dilute hops tincture in a yeasted grain base. I finally came to realize that it is the hops that keeps me coming back for more, and what provides a good part of the buzz for me. I think there may be something about using alcohol to extract the goodness, so tincture may be preferable to teas, but I like them both. Added benifit, no bloatiness.

Medium avatar

(3259)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:09 PM

Yeah...once you get the taste for hops, it's all you think about on a hot summer day (cold winter night, moderate fall afternoon, drizzly spring morning...you get the picture).

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 13, 2011
at 07:57 PM

Tell me about it. Taking alcohol completely out of the picture, I wonder if hops are addictive on their own?

0
6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on July 12, 2011
at 05:52 PM

This is an extreme example but is effective. According to one of the videos I had to watch during my drivers safety course after getting a DUI several years ago, it is about genetic disposition, environment, and availability. So I took several corrective steps to stop alcohol consumption. First was to consider alcohol as a toxin to the body and damaging to my health. I read and listened to self help guru/ psycologist Dr. Robert Anthony about putting yourself in a trance. I also used this trance technique to go 100% paleo, considering sugar and processed foods toxic. Another video I watched compared the use of heroin for 40 years to 40 years of heavy alcohol consumption. The heroin addict was messed up but alive. The alcohol abuser dead for 10 years. The video pointed out that alcohol was the only drug that affected every part of the body at once. Second step was to stop hanging out with my beer drinking friends. I also recommend filling the gap with something constructive. We all have ways of coping with stress, alcohol being one, but if we don't deliberately fill the void, we can develop another bad habit. In my case I started over eating.

I've always wondered how we in paleo land can be so embracing of alcohol and so anti everything else that is industrialized when its consumption clearly leads to adverse health outcomes such as alcohol indused dementia. I believe in the arguement of moderation but it can be a fine line and a terrible justification at times.

0
D9969bdc43d05ea427bb80174edd7837

(105)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:51 PM

I homebrew, and havent given up beer, but I partake very infrequently (maybe 1-2 beers a week). Dont notice any ill effect.

0
0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943

(1354)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:21 PM

I love the Gluten Free beer called Estrella. That being said, if I really needed a beer (maybe once every few months), I would have a Beck's light and forget about it. I eat zero gluten and a beer just doesn't bother me.

0
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:47 AM

Beer makes me ill. Moreso the stricter my diet becomes. And I was a beer guy... brewed my own and everything... even ran a homebrew supply shop in the early half of the last decade.

I have scotch whiskey with water occasionally (I made a new years resolution that I would not buy the same bottle/brand of scotch more than once this year... so far so good), or the "Nor Cal Margarita". Lately, Riesling...

Sparkling mineral water is what I drink when I'm through with the day.

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