Sunday, October 3, 2010

Back on the wagon

Those who know me are aware I can be something of a Diet Coke fiend. It's not as though I'm a believer in brand loyalty, but it's the drink that suits my needs as coffee and tea really aren't my scene. It's not as syrupy as Pepsi, it doesn't have the calories of fully leaded Coke, and the aftertaste of Coke Zero just doesn't sit well with me. Reading that most of the health claims against aspartame have been shot down didn't dampen my enthusiasm, either.

Still, my relationship with Diet Coke has been on-again, off-again in recent years. My first attempt to quit soda came about three years ago in Hawaii. My habit got as bad as two 2-liter bottles a day from 7-11 or multiple 32-ounce bottles from KTA, but at some point I just got tired of spending an extra $6 to $7 a day to get what I thought was a necessary caffeine fix. As it turns out, it wasn't that necessary. Switching cold turkey to water, Crystal Light and fruit juice (no concentrate!) not only kept money in my pocket but helped avert any withdrawal symptoms. Maybe I wasn't as caffeine-dependent as I thought.

I got back in the habit a year later, though, after moving to Indonesia. It was probably down to a number of factors, including poor water quality, a lack of Crystal Light and the stress of moving overseas for the first time. For some reason, the withdrawal symptoms that were absent in Hawaii hit me hard the second time I tried to quit, even though I tried to ease into it rather than go cold turkey. I ended up going back to soda from that point until a month ago.

Third time lucky (?) after the break.

Like in Moscow, Jakarta and Tijuana, drinking the water in Beijing is not a good idea. No one has explained why yet, though it's probably best if I don't know.

My third attempt at quitting caffeine and soda all in one go is off to a good start with no withdrawal symptoms. I had been drinking three to four of those 600 milliliter bottles (pictured at the top of this post) every day, but for the past month I've been browsing the 7-11 shelves for a good replacement.

Here are the candidates:

Back row (L-R): Suntory Mango au lait, Suntory Strawberry au lait, Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha milk tea, Minute Maid strawberry milk (which ended up having neither strawberries nor milk), Nongfu Spring lemon drink, Nongfu Spring cherry drink. Front row: Tropicana fruit mix, Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha ice lemon, Minute Maid pomegranate juice, a local lemon/lime mix, Suntory pineapple juice.

If you noticed a dairy theme in some of my selections, I'm trying to get my calcium where I can since drinking the milk here doesn't always end well. None of them were that awful (the Minute Maid milk aside) and I'm developing a taste for the milk tea, but none of them can ever truly replace the crispness, fizz and momentary burn of my old friend, Diet Coke.

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