Can Alcohol in Food Affect Recovery?
While many may be steadily working their way through Dry January, some may be innocently overlooking other sources that contribute to alcohol consumption such as what’s found in some foods. Wine, beer, sherry, and liqueurs have been used for years in a number of recipes. But before you put a stop to eating chicken cacciatore or spiked eggnog cupcakes for the next holiday season, let’s discuss the facts. If you’ve battled an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past and are now in recovery, it’s best not to consume alcoholic beverages and foods with alcohol.
Myth: “When you cook with alcohol, the alcohol burns out.”
Facts according to a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data lab:
- Heating alcohol alone doesn’t make it evaporate.
- Food simmered/baked for 15 minutes retains 40% of the initial amount of alcohol.
- After an hour of cooking, 25% of the initial amount of alcohol remains.
- Food has to be cooked for roughly three hours to eliminate the alcohol altogether.
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is the nationwide leader in addiction treatment. With facilities across the United States and a variety of treatment options tailored to your specific needs, we’re able to treat thousands of people each year. We provide medical detox, treatment, as well as aftercare planning and sober living locations. If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, please reach out to get the help you need today.
Recovery, Alcohol, & Cooking
The purpose of adding alcohol to some dishes and desserts as an ingredient is simply to enhance flavor as opposed to getting intoxicated from the experience. With that said, “for some people having just a tiny bit of alcohol or the taste of the alcohol may be enough to act as a powerful cue,” or trigger that can lead to behavior that is not conducive to sobriety. Again, if you’ve struggled with an AUD in the past, it may not be in your best interest to eat foods with alcohol in them. Instead, look for alcohol substitutions for recipes that list a type of alcohol as one of the ingredients.
An experiment was conducted by nutritionists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho. It consisted of the participants cooking scalloped oysters with sherry and two dishes with Burgundy (similar to coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon).
The variables that impacted the results consisted of:
- Size of the pan.
- Length of time cooked.
- Method of cooking (bake or simmer).
The results yielded a variance from 4% to 49% of the initial amount of alcohol remaining in the prepared meals across the board. Baking appeared to be the least effective in removing the alcohol, while simmering in a wide pan was the most effective.
If you find yourself battling an AUD, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re not alone. AAC provides treatment in a welcoming and safe environment with licensed and compassionate medical staff to help individuals reach long-term recovery. If you’re currently in a struggle with an active addiction, please reach out to get the help you need today.