Saturday, April 20, 2013

I have a drinking problem

Hi, my name is Tasha, and I am addicted.

Addicted to cold, fizzy drinks.

Years ago, you would not find me without a diet Coke in my hand. I drank it for breakfast. I drank it after going to the gym. I drank it on road trips. I drank it all day long. I had the cutest little mini-fridge in my office that held exactly 6 cans of diet Coke. That 12oz can of deliciousness and I have a long history.
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Even when I was very, very sick, and literally hooked up to an IV in my doctor's office, I had a 32oz, frosty cold, diet Coke sitting next to me. It was my pick-me-up when I felt lousy. I told myself I had given up nearly everything- gluten, hundreds of other ingredients, chemicals, all of my traditional personal care products (full of chemicals and fragrance), everything I owned (all contaminated by mold in my apartment), my full time job (I was down to part time)- I was NOT going to give up diet Coke.

The whole routine of going into a QT station (they have the best convenience stores and drink fountains), getting the BIG cup, filling it with ice, diet Coke, and if I was feeling particularly daring, a splash of vanilla, cherry, or Rooster Booster (that's their brand of energy drink), was comforting and familiar. On a long trip up to the doctor's office, knowing that I would stop & get the giant fountain Coke was the bright spot in the day.

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I would sit there in the IV room, sipping on my icy cold Coke. The nurses would tell me diet Coke was unhealthy and I should stop drinking it. I replied, "You can pry my diet Coke from my cold, dead fingers." I meant it. I rationalized that I was not consuming any other unhealthy thing or ingredient I was sensitive to. How bad could it be??? It was just sweet, fizzy, colored water. It doesn't even have any calories, for crying out loud. How could it hurt me?

Later on, I learned that the caramel color in diet Coke is derived from corn. I was VERY sensitive to corn at that time- even putting on makeup that contained cornstarch made me break out in a rash. Eating corn made my eyes swell, and I'd be asleep for days. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I would have done anything, given up anything, just to feel better.

That was it for the diet Coke. That was how ready I was to feel better. If that was it, if that was the last thing holding me back, it was GONE! It wasn't easy, but I kicked the habit.

My health did not improve right away, as I'd hoped, but I was glad I stopped the diet Coke. I'd tried to quit in the past, but with no real incentive to stick to it, I didn't. Those thoughts of "c'mon, how bad can it be? I don't drink or smoke, if diet Coke is my worst vice, so be it" would creep into my psyche, and I'd start up again. But at times, it really was ridiculous. I spent way too much money on diet Coke. I was way too grumpy in the morning if I didn't have one. I never wish to be a slave to anything, but I was pretty addicted to diet Coke. It was a good feeling to let that addiction go.

So, let's fast forward a bit, shall we? I didn't drink anything but water and fresh juices for a time. And I was happy with that. But, because of my health issues, I was exhausted ALL OF THE TIME. Nothing helped. There was a point when I was sleeping 23 hours/day, and I was still exhausted. I wanted to get up. I wanted to be productive. I needed to work. I had medical bills out the wazoo, and how in the world was I going to pay them if I couldn't... drag... myself... to... my... desk?!

That's when I discovered energy drinks.

Oh boy.

I discovered an organic energy drink with ingredients I tolerated. At first, I hated the taste. I didn't care. Caffeine would be the answer to all of my problems.  It would get me by, until my health improved. It would help me function.

As you might imagine, I was quickly hooked on energy drinks. I started ordering them by the case from Amazon. That was a huge cost savings, but then I had ample supply in my pantry, and one a day became two a day... and you see where that is going.

Later, I found a commercial brand of energy drink that seemed to be safe for me (ingredients). I switched brands because that was cheaper. Again, I hated the taste at first. But I got used to it. Those became my crutch.

Never mind that of course caffeine was NOT the answer to my problems or a good way to mask my symptoms. I know that. And now, I'm trying to kick the caffeine habit as well.

Enter... light bulb moment. I realize... I really, really like cold, fizzy drinks. Perhaps my addiction to diet Coke and energy drinks is less about the caffeine (doesn't really help much anyway) or the taste (not great, but bearable), but all about the sensation of cold and fizzy. I like the sound of the pop-fizzzzz when you open the can or bottle. Obviously, I am not the only one, Coke even uses that sound in its commercials. I like seeing the bubbles rise up to the top. I like the feel of the bubbles on my tongue. Bubbles make me happy!
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I actually like drinking water. I have no problem getting in the recommended amount of water per day. I also love fresh juice and green smoothies, and believe they are a great way to start the day. But neither of those things satisfy my desire for something cold and fizzy first thing in the morning.

So- my NEW thing is sparkling water. No chemicals, no colors, no flavors. Just water. I am trying to switch to sparkling water instead of soda/pop/Coke/energy drinks.

My favorite one at the moment- and this preference is very much influenced by cost- is Whole Foods sparkling mineral water. There are some other fizzy waters out there that I like very much, but they are not at the price point where I would want to drink it every day.

Today, I am trying a new Whole Foods sparkling water- Lemon Raspberry flavor. Just for a little extra flavor with the fizz.

My verdict thus far (I've had about half of this bottle) is it is a bit too sweet. I may stick with plain sparkling water and just add a squeeze of lemon or lime or slices of ginger, which has been working well for me.
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At some point, I may wean myself off fizzy drinks altogether, but for now, I am happy with the mineral waters. I do not like that I now have many plastic bottles to recycle. I have been thinking of ways to repurpose them- more on that later- but one can only re-use so many plastic bottles. And then there is the eco-guilt of shipping water halfway around the globe, but I can only take this one step at a time. If this sparkling water kick seems like it is going to last, I may invest in a Soda Stream, so I can make my own. Less packaging, less fuel, no plastic bottles to recycle. Has anyone used a Soda Stream? Thoughts?

Do you have any favorite sparkling waters, or favorite items to add? I'm thinking I'll try watermelon in my fizzy water this summer.

1 comment:

  1. No thoughts on the Soda Stream- I haven't tried it, one person told me it was the best thing evah and another said it was a waste of money, so... ?

    BUT! Fizzy drinks I like as a treat (worst haiku line ever). Have you tried making ginger syrup (fresh ginger, honey or alternate gooey sweetener, water-- boil down and cool) to add to it? I do love adding lemon or lime to all sorts of water, so I think you have a winning idea.

    I wonder if you could juice ginger or other fruit and add that to the sparkly party? Good luck!!