Somehow I developed an addiction to water. So I’m quitting liquids today.
Not completely. That would be ridiculous, of course. But I’m fighting an addiction, a weird, curiously humorous addiction: I’m addicted to water.
Apparently it’s more common than you’d think. The mind boosts the feeling of thirst, and you drink more, and more, and more. You don’t think there’s a problem with this. “I’m flushing my kidneys through”, “You can’t be too hydrated – it’s good for the skin”, “Most people don’t drink enough liquid, I’m healthier than most.”
For the last two and a half years I’ve consumed at least eight pints of water per day. And I mean pints; a dash of orange concentrate in a pint glass, filled to the brim with tap water. Like a chain-smoker I finish one and start the next. On top of this there might also be 3 cups of tea, and sometimes the odd glass of milk, plus the liquids I consume with cereals, soups and other foodstuffs. I estimate maybe ten pints of liquid per day. I never really thought anything was wrong. Why would I? I felt fine. I have rosacea, so my skin has a propensity for dryness. I thought I was doing myself a favour.
I read an article in the paper yesterday, about water-addiction. Excessive consumption flushes the electrolytes out of your body, and dilutes sodium levels in your blood stream. It changes your metabolism so your body becomes programmed to process any ingested liquid straight away, as quickly as possible, to get it through and out of your system. I always wondered why I’ve had to apply lip balm before bed every night for the last few years. I always chalked it up to arid, computer-burdened offices, air-conditioning, and the rosacea.
Today, I woke up, and decided to change.
- Breakfast: bowl of cereal with milk.
- Morning: two cups of tea.
- Lunch: bowl of soup, two slices of bread. Single cup of tea.
- Evening meal: spaghetti bolognese. Glass of orange juice.
- Evening: Single cup of tea.
From the moment I woke, I’ve felt like an addict on withdrawal. A headache has nagged me all day. Not a crippling, tear-inducing migraine, but a dull, constant weight at the front of my skull above my forehead. My joints feel stiff. I crave water.
However I know this isn’t real thirst. My lips are plump, my mouth moist, my urine clear. My complexion is bizarrely better than usual; the red tinge of the rosacea scarring isn’t as visible as it usually is. I will wait until my body properly registers the thirst, and then I will drink, but not before. I will fight this compulsion. It will take many days for my body to realign itself to its new diet, but it will get there. No damage is done that cannot be undone. I’m tired, all sorts of things hurt, but somehow I actually feel healthier. I’m happy after my first day of quitting liquids.