We are a few weeks into 2012 now and some of us that made New Year’s resolutions have discovered that in our zeal to achieve change, we have created resolutions that have us feeling too constrained. For most people however, success lies in practicing a balanced approach to life.

Finding balance means adopting the path less travelled, and rethinking arbitrarily determined timelines in favour of creating our own timelines and strategies —  that work for ourselves.  And for some of us, that also means rethinking the whole idea of “cleanses” and austerity as penance for excess, instead embracing a few simple pleasures that can bring us a little bit of joy throughout the entire year.

I’m here to tell you that a little tipple can help you do that! Keep the following 3 things in mind to help you drink your way to a more balanced you.

Think of cocktails and spirits as a health tonic

Many of the spirits and liqueurs we enjoy today were originally concocted as health tonics. And the ingredients that give them their distinct flavour profiles also have healing properties. For example, gin was originally distilled in the 1500′s as a means of making the benefits of juniper berries widely available to the masses. Chartreuse, containing 130 herbs, was created by monks in the 1600s as a health tonic. All of the Italian amaros, incluing Fernet Branca, and Campari, were originally consumed as digestifs, intended to promote optimal digestion. And Cognac, was actually available during prohibition by prescription.

While this may seem far-fetched, consider that herbalists creating healing tinctures use 80 proof alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of the herbs they prescribe.

Quality over quantity

While it often goes without saying that moderation is the key to a healthy, happy existence, I’m going to say it anyway. Deprivation is the surest route to “falling off the wagon” of our well-meant resolutions. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of the binge/abstain cycle is to invest a few extra dollars or time in a better quality of beverage.

For those also resolved to reign in their spending in 2012, the good news is that finding a good quality spirit or wine does not mean having to lay out $100 for a bottle of single malt. There are bargains to be had if you are willing to look at alternatives. If you enjoy single malt scotch, for example, but find it too spendy for your pocketbook, try a bourbon or an aged rum for less than half the price.

You will get all the enjoyment of sipping on a nuanced beverage, without the sticker shock.

Pick your potion

With so many lifestyle and health-related diets out there these days, finding a spirit that is “allowed” on many of these diets leaves many people opting out altogether (see the reference above to deprivation). Whether you are on a Paleo diet, or a slow-carb diet, or a gluten-free diet, there is a quality beverage for you out there.

For those looking to minimize their grain intake, the good news is that a quality spirit is far better than beer, and there are more microdistillers experimenting with creating spirits from fruit. Red wine is better on the carb front than white wine. And remember that organizations such as the Celiac Association are working at the local level with wine and spirits purveyors to research and educate about gluten-free options.

Picking your potion does not need to be a complicated affair, instead it’s a matter of being more mindful about what we consume.

Conclusion

I wish you well in 2012, and raise a glass to all of you seeking balance in your lives. Remember to consider the health benefits of a life well-lived. A moment of reflection while sipping a delicious beverage, or connecting in the evening with your spouse over a glass of wine, may have more benefits than you think!

(Photo credit: Bottles of spirits and liquor at the bar via Shutterstock)

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