The Friday / Saturday night challenge

The Bitter Truth

The Bitter Truth

I did it.  A dry Friday.  Never easy.  And, for me, the very hardest part of any weight-loss attempt.  Fasting is one thing, but even that is easy if you’re snacking on meat.  Giving up drink is quite another.

Alcohol is a vice all of its own.  You don’t need me to sell its special charms.  Not even after all the bad press it got yesterday.  Thank you, Dame Sally Davies, perfect timing there.  But clearly if you, like me, look forward to one of your fourteen weekly units, perhaps in a long chilled glass, first thing on a Friday evening, then you’ll appreciate the effort it takes to go without it.

That’s why I don’t do it more than once.  To lose weight on a steady basis, there’s no problem with drinking for a few days a week.  Well no issue for weight-loss at least (that’s what Reload days are for) and I’m not going to venture any where near Dame Sally’s findings.

But when there’s a job to do, like offsetting the Christmas pounds, you need the big guns.  And the cumulative effect of back-to-back Fastdays and Burndays, stretching through the weekend from one week to another, is just too powerful to pass over.  So for the first couple of weeks of January no Reloads and no drink.

I can get through it because I know it’s only once a year.  You’ll find you don’t even have to come close to the full #dryjan to take good run of pounds off.

But, for me, a Friday or Saturday night without a drink is just, as Amanda so perfectly put it in her comment yesterday, ‘So depressing!’.

And, apart from knowing that next Friday.  By 6pm AT THE LATEST I will have a strong G and T in my hand, the only small (yes, tiny) compensation I have is finding a virtually zero calorie soft drink that I can actually enjoy in itself: Rock Shandy.

It’s said that the drink has Irish roots and is named after Blackrock, Co. Dublin - at least there’s a pedigree of drinking there! But I don’t think it was ever intended as an alcohol substitute.  The idea of substituting something for alcohol is such a daft modern conceit. 

It has a number of variants. The most simple is lemonade and sparkling water or club soda with a dash of Angostura bitters.  So make it with diet lemonade, use lots of ice and add a slice of lemon.  Another standard is to use fizzy orange instead of lemonade.  And there are a few more alternatives here: http://www.thedietgroove.com/a-drink/.

Of course it doesn’t come close to the taste of a proper drink, but at least it avoids the saccharine sweetness of fruit juices, sodas and even the ‘grown-up’ style soft drinks.  And still is largely calorie free.

The trick is in the bitters.  At 44% proof (that’s Angostura) they are definitely alcoholic, but you use so little - literally just a drop or two - that it can’t count.  They give the drink the complexity missing in any soft drink, and there’s a hint of sophistication in the taste.  And because of its dry, bitter taste, you can carry on drinking it, in various forms, all evening. 

To make the drink even drier, try adding some low-cal tonic too.  Or, on a parallel track, you can switch to a simple Angostura and tonic.  Again with lots of ice and a slice of lemon or lime.  Variety can help ease the pain you’re feeling.

And finally; other bitters are available.  A friend gave me ‘The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveller’s Set’.  Thank you, Sam.  With five little bottles I don’t think airport security would allow you to actually take them travelling these days but they regularly come out at home.  The orange one is a favourite and there’s a lovely cardamom hint to the Creole Bitters.

So, bottoms up!  But not in girth…  And here’s to next Friday.

Will x