“You go through this stuff like water,” my husband, Frank, said the other day when we were stocking up on La Croix.
In addition to being unwittingly humorous (seeing as how La Croix is water, how else am I supposed to go through it?), the statement is true: I do drink a lot of carbonated water.
It doesn’t have to be La Croix, with its array of “naturally essenced” fruit flavors. In fact, I’m just as happy with plain seltzer. It’s the fizz I’m after.
Whenever I’ve anxiety-googled “sparkling water bad for you” in the middle of the night, the articles that come up are, you can tell, just dying to ruin your day with the news that seltzer will harm you. This is because the authors of nutrition articles have a knee-jerk aversion to stuff that makes people happy. The same problem afflicts hall monitors, some professional critics, and anybody who dislikes dogs.
But so far, the worst that nutrition articles can say about carbonated water is that it might make you pee more if you have a sensitive bladder and, further, maybe those bubbles aren’t great for your tooth enamel? Sure, the nutrition article will reluctantly acknowledge that a study cited by the American Dental Association found that unflavored sparkling water has the same effect on teeth as that of regular water, but that just means we should keep doing more studies until we get one that reveals the definitive link between Perrier and Covid-19. We must not rest until every parade has been rained on—and the water in those raindrops had better be flat!
I’m telling you: These nutrition-article people are relentless.
I started drinking fizzy water as a substitute for diet soda when I gave that up several years ago. I was living in Chicago at the time, though, so I guess I gave up diet pop—but let’s not get into regional differences in how people refer to sugary carbonated beverages. What is this, New Student Week at my college dorm when I was a fresh-from-the-sticks 18-year-old discovering that not everyone considers “Coke” an umbrella term?
Actually, my favorite drink when I was a teenager back in Arkansas was Dr Pepper, which seems to be less popular up here in the North. It’s not that outside of the South the stuff is hard to find or anything, but it’s not ubiquitous like it is back home. The same goes for Chick-fil-A restaurants and billboards that just say “JESUS” in huge block letters.
Anyhow, I haven’t had a Dr Pepper, diet or otherwise, in many years, and now I live among the purportedly sophisticated coastal elites of New York City. But it does warm my Arkansan heart when I’m at a restaurant and I overhear somebody ask the waiter, “Do y’all have Dr Pepper?”
They never do.
Eventually, I switched from Dr Pepper to Diet Coke in order to cut back on sugar. I should have just dropped soda altogether, of course, because all kinds are bad for you—here the nutrition-article people and I are in perfect agreement.
But it wasn’t until 2012 that I was able to kick the soda habit entirely. I made a New Year’s resolution that year to give up Diet Coke, and, though displays of willpower are out of character for me, I succeeded.
Gazing upon the Diet Coke years in hindsight, I have trouble understanding why renouncing the drink was difficult, given that, as you know, Diet Coke tastes bad. To this day, it remains a mystery to me why, after my first sip of that sickly sweet chemical gunk, I ever went back for more, evidently thinking, Hmm, better keep drinking this disgusting beverage for the next, oh, several decades or so.
What can I tell you? Addiction is a disease.