On Electrolytes and Unhappiness

Staring at the absurdly overstocked and overwhelmingly expansive refrigerated beverage section of Whole Foods (or really any section of the store, for that matter) is kind of like waiting at a red light. In both situations, all brain activity ceases and the eyes glaze over, to the extent that if someone were to peer deeply into them, he or she would find only Hi-Def images of wildlife drifting lazily over a black backdrop.  Adding to that, if you were to somehow total the number of minutes of your short, sweet life you have spent thus far idling uselessly in either situation, you would feel slightly nauseated, and possibly bitter. Because that is time you could have better spent napping, or perhaps refining your dental hygiene.

Simply put, Whole Foods offers far too many choices.   And from an evolutionary standpoint, it really doesn’t make much sense.  If a dinosaur, instead of instinctively targeting the lagging runt of a buffalo herd for an afternoon snack, found himself (okay okay – “or herself” – chill out undergraduate population of UC Santa Cruz) suddenly in the flourescently-lit presence of five thousand different varieties of freshly slaughtered buffalo, all readily prepared and available for the taking… barbecued buffalo legs, organic teriyaki buffalo brains, tofu-based bluffalo tongue (for those lesser known Triassic Vegans)… he would probably just keel right over and promptly go extinct from the sheer pressure of such excessively needless decision-making.

But the thing is, once you go Whole Foods, it’s hard to go back.  You no longer have to settle for standard Safeway brand boring old flaxseed (if there is such a thing), because here, there are options! Endless options! Do you prefer your (obviously Organic) flaxseed Omega-3 infused, or cold milled with added fiber?  Do you like it ground or whole?  Would you like to shit your pants immediately after breakfast, or later in the afternoon?  (I mean, really, isn’t that what it all comes down to?) 

Media Break! Ron Swanson on Health Food Stores and the People Who Shop At Them

Basically, shopping at health food stores like Whole Foods becomes an addiction, and for me, coconut water was my gateway drug.

By my estimation, coconut water began to attain its status as trendy (particularly in the yoga and pilates communities) back in the summer of ’08.  I come to this conclusion because that is when a whole mini-fridge of the stuff first appeared in the Newport Beach Yogaworks studio; if you’ve been there, you understand what level of O.C.-grade trendiness we’re dealing with here.  I will admit that I, for one, was all for it.  Hydrating! Replenishing! Naturally sweetened! Organic!  Hurrah!  Life is finally providing answers! I would leave yoga sipping a cool, blue Zico, feeling superbly health-conscious, radiating a mirthful post-workout glow, and finding divine comfort in the fact that each and every one of the electrolytes sweating out of my pores was being simultaneously replenished.

I should have realized then, when I suddenly started feeling my used-up electrolytes physically dancing out of my pores, and picturing these newly swallowed electrolytes radiating out of my stomach lining to get right back in line like little electric blue dancing Clip-Art figures… that I was being duped.  Or maybe “baited” is more accurate.  Lured into a community of paranoid health freaks for whom money is no object in their eternal search for that elusive yet surely miraculous tonic that will finally rid them of all toxins.  Because we are all, of course, filled to the brim with toxins.  It’s a miracle we can even get out of bed in the morning, or that we don’t simply melt into the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West when a drop of hand sanitizer alights on our tainted skin.

Anyway, soon after I popped my coconut water cherry, I found myself craving it outside of yoga… after all, a girl’s gotta hydrate.  And Gatorade just wouldn’t cut it anymore.  Too mainstream – I mean, really.  So I meandered on over to the refrigerated beverage section of Whole Foods… only to realize how little I really knew about, well, drinking things, apparently.  I hunted down the coconut water section (section!), my eyes searching desperately for the familiar blue plastic bottle amidst the competing aluminum cans and glass bottles that all came in various sizes and infinite rainbows of flavor.  But it didn’t stop there… some had more potassium, some had less sodium, some had more electrolytes, some were Organic, some were naturally sweetened, some had probiotics, some were guaranteed to make you physically levitate off the ground… I just couldn’t deal. Cue screensaver.

A friend told me the other day that too many choices can contribute to unhappiness.  And I think it’s true.  What happened to the good old days when all you had to choose from was water, soda, and diet soda?  What happened to picking up a loaf of good old Wonder Bread instead of deciding between whole wheat or sprouted or ezekiel or 12-grain or gluten-free or extra fiber?  Sigh. Simplicity is undervalued. Yes, I’m talking to you, America.

So you’re jonesing for some iced tea?  Here’s my advice: Think of the dinosaurs.  Go drive through Burger King and save yourself a good 45 minutes… along with what is left of your sanity.


2 thoughts on “On Electrolytes and Unhappiness”

  1. OMG! I am hysterical! I fall victim to this same plague, however my gateway drug was quinoa. In full agreement about there being too many choices! I remember once upon a time when I was happy with my 12 TV channels and UHF! These days between the hundreds of channels and on-demand and netflix, hulu, etc I find myself listlessly channel surfing for 30 minutes and then become frustrated when there is “nothing on”. Sigh. But thank you for your post. It was a great little eye opener and afternoon read.

  2. Good point! You should try the cereal isle! Now even buying milk takes a few extra minutes to decide. And knowing that there are so many choices allows family members to have their specific favorites, e.g., the one with the yellow top, making shopping a full-time job.

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