Root Beer to the Rescue

A can of A&W Zero Sugar Root Beer

Root beer is the best of all the soft drink. I am re-learning that now. On Sunday, April 18, 2021, I gave up caffeine cold-turkey. This was not the first time I’ve done this. I did it for a 7-year stretch from 2003 – 2010. And if you search the blog you’ll find other attempts. I love my Cherry Coke Zeros (and just plain Coke even more), but I was finding it difficult to sleep. This was the reason I gave up caffeine for 7 years and so, my desire to sleep won out over my addiction to caffeine. And it is an addiction. I can’t have just one Coke. I need to have them all.

The withdrawal period was tough, but I’d been through it before and after two weeks, I no longer felt the headaches, or shoulder or neck aches, and the moodiness lifted. My morning Cokes were replaced with orange juice, but I needed something during the day. Of course, in the past when I gave up caffeine, I’d just turn to caffeine-free Coke. But I don’t want those calories. That was what was great about Cherry Coke Zero. I liked it, but didn’t have to worry about calories.

A&W Root Beer is caffeine free, and so I’d pick one up occasionally on an afternoon walk. Root beer is like a dessert to me. I love it, especially when it is ice cold. I think of it as a summer drink. There is a passage fairly early in Stephen King’s 11/22/63 where the main character drinks a root beer, and his description captures my feelings every time I have one. Which is why I say that root beer is the best of all soft drinks.

But root beer is heavier in calories than even Coke. I’d seen diet root beers, but shunned them because it seemed to me that the fullness of a root beer would be lost in a diet version. Once again, desperation kicked in. I don’t have many vices. I’ve never smoked (never even tried). I don’t drink much alcohol. My vice is my soft drinks, and I enjoy them, chemicals be damned. I found over the last few weeks that water wasn’t cutting it. Juice and milk, both of which I enjoy, have too many calories to make them a useful substitute. So one day, on a walk, a picked up a bottle of A&W Zero Sugar Root Beer and girded myself for disappointment.

Instead of disappointment, however, I tasted surprise. Indeed, I was very much surprised. I could not tell the difference between a regular root beer and the zero sugar version. This was a godsend. A&W Zero Sugar Root Beer would be my new soft drink. Indeed, if I’d known how good it tasted, I might never have gotten into Coke Zero in the first place. As it turned out, the local Safeway had a sale–buy 2, get 2 free on 12-packs of soft drinks, including A&W Zero Sugar, so I picked up 48 cans of the stuff, which should get me through a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty good about having given up caffeine. I always wonder if it will stick, and I know if it doesn’t, I’ll be right back up there maxing out on caffeine every day. But I slept well last night, and that helps. To be honest, however, I’m not sure what helps more, the sleep, or knowing that I can still enjoy root beer without the caffeine, or the calories.

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