I could throw them back like the best of them. Oh yes, I was a part of it in a big way.
I looked forward to wine tastings, parties, camping beers and patio cocktails as a normal part of everyday life. That fuzzy feeling induced by delicious, complex flavor was the part of the day I looked forward to the most. I noticed when people turned down a drink, we all did. They often lowered their eyes and looked somehow ashamed, hoping desperately for no follow up questions. After all who would subject themselves to the torture of sobriety unless they were pregnant, alcoholic or on antibiotics? Bringing up personal health choices in polite company today is as taboo as talking politics but its often open season on anyone who’s chosen not to drink.
Never in a million bottles, would I have guessed I would be one of these people.
Now after many years as part of the drinking crowd, I’m the sober friend at the party. As I grew older, and heavy party nights became increasingly taxing, I started to look for ways to improve my health and energy. The more I looked, the more I learned that drinking is not the fairy tail the media leads us to believe. It permanently effects your brain function, increases your risk of cancers, diabetes and liver disease exponentially. That’s a fact. I’ve been risking all this for a temporary strung-out feeling of happiness I pay for not only in empty calories but with actual hard earned money. I was tired of feeling lifeless, fat & sick.
I decided it was time to take off my rosé coloured glasses and focus on my health.
Kelowna certainly has its share of health nuts. There is a gym, a cross fit and a yoga on every corner. We sell gluten free and vegan options on almost every menu and take care in selecting organic produce at the supermarket. Health is a hot topic these days but much of it is based on almost religious-like beliefs rather than on factual evidence. We’re so desperate for a solution, we believe things like soy, MSG, dairy, gluten, GMOs and vaccinations are the cause of feeling ill. We invest millions in naturopaths, yoga classes and the latest and greatest fad diet hoping to improve our health, all while quietly indulging in a vice responsible for a plethora of health problems.
Drinking is such a socially acceptable part of our culture, we ignore the evidence that it’s making us sick. We contribute clicks to articles claiming that alcohol is good for us and poke fun of people who refuse to join the inebriation. Our society has not only conditioned us to crave daily intoxication but to depend on it to enjoy life. It’s a struggle to find an event in town where drinking does not seem to be required. From networking tickets including two drinks, to events hosted at wineries to beer tastings to wine and paint nights, there’s few alcohol-free options available. By being so socially insecure that we require alcohol to talk to our fellow peers, we’re missing out on quality connections and real conversations.
I’m probably not winning any popularity contests by choosing to be sober but I enjoy thinking clearly, having a good night’s sleep and a healthy amount of energy. It may take me a little longer to unwind at the end of the day or loosen up socially, but my club soda costs less than a craft beer, my skin looks great and I won’t have a headache in the morning. It wasn’t an easy decision to stop drinking and defending it continues to be the hardest part, but for me, the positive benefits far outweigh the social obstacles. And although I miss a nice glass of wine on occasion, it’s nothing a refreshing soda, cucumber and ginger mocktail can’t cure.
- 1 medium cucumber, sliced
- 10 slices of fresh ginger, about ¼” thick
- 2 cups sugar (or about 1¾ cups agave nectar)
- 2 cups still water
- soda water for serving (about 5 ounces per drink)
- cucumber slices, for serving, optional