Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Leaving Soft Drinks Behind

When I was a kid, I'm not sure if I ever drank water. Coca-Cola was my drink of choice, and I don't remember drinking much else unless absolutely necessary.

I'd like to say that my journey away from Coke and, eventually, soft drinks as a whole was fueled by some desire to better myself or something noble like that, but really it all just sort of began with two things: a chance encounter on an airplane and some annoying headaches.

Around the time I started getting involved with Fangamer I suddenly started traveling a lot. I had never traveled by airplane before Fangamer, but suddenly I was flying here and there across the country multiple times per year.

Well, one time while flying back from Seattle a few years ago I was flipping through one of the in-flight service booklets and noticed that one of the drink options was ginger ale. For whatever reason, that sounded really, really good at the time, so when the flight attendant came by offering drinks that's what I asked for.

I've written about ginger ale in a prior blog, so my opinions on the beverage are documented. However, I don't think I mentioned the origin of my obsession: this very flight.

It's also important to note that the brand of ginger ale I got during that flight was Seagrams which, at the time, was a very high-quality ginger ale. If I had gotten, say, Canada Dry instead, I probably would have never started buying ginger ale on my own.

Yet I did. I started buying cans of ginger ale alongside my colas, and the scale quickly tipped to a point where I was drinking more ginger ale than cola. Unfortunately, cola had a secret weapon: caffeine.

Caffeine, it turns out, is an addictive substance, and I was quite addicted. I never craved caffeine, but I did have a chemical dependency that only showed itself when I failed to give myself any. So, after a day or so of neglecting cola in favor of ginger ale, I would begin to develop a headache. The headache would last all day, usually, but it would slowly fade as I drank some cola.

Then, one day, I decided that I'd had enough. I gave away my remaining Cokes and simply endured the headaches until they subsided. That was a year and a half ago, and I haven't drank a caffeinated beverage since. Why bother? Ginger ale tasted better, and it never gave me a headache if I forgot to drink it for a day. The winner was clear.

It was around that time that I realized that drinks at restaurants are expensive. Moreover, they almost never offer ginger ale. However, water is always free, and it simply didn't make sense to me to shell out $3 to settle for Sprite or something.

Now, I've definitely long since outgrown living on nothing but soda. I'm not sure when, but at some point I started to dislike that syrup-like coating that sodas leave in your mouth, so I started drinking water more and more. Eventually (and, if we're being honest, far too recently) I started only having soft drinks with meals rather than drinking them constantly throughout the day.

And then, all of a sudden, I stopped having soft drinks even with many of my meals. I would only have a can of soda with my meals at home or at the office.

I got pretty sick while visiting home for the holidays, and I got a different sort of sick on the way back from MAGfest last month. Both times I had trouble drinking anything but water for the duration of the illness, and MAGfest didn't have ginger ale readily available so I drank mostly water there as well.

Ever since then, I simply haven't had much urge to drink soft drinks. I've probably drank only one can of soda in the past week, in fact. Water has almost completely taken over my drinking habits. It's kind of sudden, but I'm not exactly saddened b the development. Soft drinks are an expensive habit.

I'm not saying I'm giving up soft drinks forever or anything. I'm sure I'll have one once in a while, and I've got several cans of ginger ale waiting for me in my refrigerator.

However this feels like the end of an era. No longer shall I build walls of cans that cover my desk. And, well, if this happens to be a healthier option, well, I guess that's fine, too. My dentist will be proud.

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