In which I break up with alcohol…?

There is an adorable photo of me as a toddler, wearing a velour track suit (it was the 70’s, man) and I am swigging the dregs from somebody’s Budweiser bottle.  Apparently I loved the taste of beer as a tiny child.

In high school in the 90’s the thing to drink were wine coolers (ick), vodka drinks, and beer.  And I drank them all!  If I could go back and lecture my high school self, I would.

When I got to college, I thought I was pretty sophisticated, so of course my favorite drink was a “greyhound” or a dirty vodka martini, and I could list all kinds of craft beers.

In the law school and lawyer years, I developed a taste for champagne, wines and scotch. As I traveled more, tasting the local fermented brew of a city or country became something to check off my travel list, and a destination:  Germany’s terraced vineyards on the Rhine, California’s wine country; single malt tastings in Scotland; learning about Riojas in Spain; trying every ale, bitter, and beer available at every pub during a summer in England and Wales (ok, not every one, but not for lack of trying).

Ah, youth.  Yes, sometimes I woke up with a dry mouth & headache. Usually, I was totally unscathed! Wheeeeee, last night was fun…..! Let’s have bloody marys with breakfast!

And not that I think I am old now, or even feel particularly old, at 36. I feel the same as I did 10 years ago, and after almost 1 year of paleo, I feel great most of the time.  EXCEPT that I can no longer drink, apparently.  As in, even one glass of wine makes me feel kind of not great, almost immediately.

Who else has had this experience?

For me, I think part of this is tied in with my possible autoimmune issue.   But even before that, I noticed that every time I got sick with a cold, it happened right after a drinking situation (ordering wine with dinner, etc.).  I started to suspect that alcohol weakened  immunity.   But it was just a guess, and and at that time, if you Googled “alcohol and immunity” not too much came up.  Now, Google that, or “alcohol and inflammation” and you can read all kinds of studies…

Whatever the reason, whatever the science, I am starting to face the fact that….. I may need to break up with alcohol.

The realization came today, when I went to the new Whole Foods in my neighborhood, and tried the three wines they were sampling. When I say “tried” I mean I requested the teeny-tiniest pour of each one. (Old me would have let the guy fill up the little cup as much as he wanted).  Three wee swigs of wine.  And they tasted really good. But  immediately I felt not great.  Instant flushed feeling and headache, which has persisted all evening. Argh.

What’s a drink-enjoying girl to do? Well….. I already wrote a bit about my paleo cocktails, but of course we all know the most paleo cocktail of all is one that has no alcohol.

Today was the Kentucky Derby. Instead of a mint julep (which never tasted as good as it sounded anyway), I had mint water by Metromint. Ingredients: Mint, water. Pretty good and refreshing, actually.  Definitely more refreshing than bourbon!  I think I am going to try making my own with muddled mint leaves and/or pepper mint oil.   This is only the start.

Tomorrow is Cinqo de Mayo, which is a favorite holiday of all Americans who love an excuse to eat Mexican food (me), and drink beer and/or margaritas (old me).   I won’t be going for my newer favorite, Robb Wolf’s NorCal Margarita.  Instead, maybe something like  fresh-squeezed lemon & lime, with a splash of orange juice and/or orange zest, with sparkling water?  Let the experimenting begin.

Coincidentally, Whole 9 just recently posted some great mocktail recipes that I thought sounded neat, but didn’t expect to get around to trying anytime soon.  I guess I’ll be heading over there and trying these out after all!

If anyone has other great mocktail suggestions, definitely share!  Bottoms up!


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