It’s tough, but worth it. 
Credit: Credit: YelenaYemchuk/Getty

I take a breath, maybe two. In through my nose—hold it deep in my lungs—and exhale. The concentrated effort on this usually involuntary physical act tends to short out the panic circuit that builds up each time I twist the lid, tip the bottle into the glass, and brace myself against the burn. One more breath and I slam the shot back in one throw—and it burns on impact with the soft tissue at the back of my throat and sears a path downward.

I gasp for a moment, eyes tearing, and I’d probably scream an obscenity if I didn’t think it would ratchet the blaze a few degrees higher. Drinking straight apple cider vinegar is a wretched thing to do to yourself, and yet I persist. The verdict is split on the effectiveness of downing ACV. The folk remedy has been proven to aid digestion and keep blood sugar levels in check, but it possesses little to no vitamin or mineral content and does jack for your pH levels—and I can't swear I understand why that matters in the first place. I just know that slamming a shot of it makes me feel better, and I'll take as much gut relief as I can get these days.

You're not supposed to drink it straight, per most sane advice (and also the internet). It should be cut with water to preserve the integrity of your tooth enamel and delicate esophagus. My nutritionist, Victoria Albina, FNP-c, MPH, counseled me to "go easy" on the vinegar, but I may listen selectively sometimes because it just doesn't feel like I am getting the full effect if I dilute it (sorry, Victoria!).

I'm not just doing this because celebrities like Hillary Duff, Katy Perry, and Fergie have mentioned the practice in interviews—but rather because I have a wonky gut, and drinking vinegar inevitably makes me feel a little better. But not without a few roadblocks—namely the mental block (and taste) of pouring acid down my gullet.

Here's how I get there: I pull out the vinegar bottle and a glass—sometimes shot and sometimes collins because the visual of a full glass is considerably more daunting than one with just a splash in it, even if it's the same amount. Then I find a chore that needs doing, like clearing out the crisper, unclogging hair from the drain, or cleaning the toilet, in an effort to procrastinate—and also make the task seem mildly less revolting. Then I walk back into the kitchen, actually crack the bottle, and pour the shot.

Then, a series of thoughts go through my head:

Doesn't an email need answering?

Was that the dog being sick?

Did I actually order those shoes or just leave them in the shopping cart?

When I run out of excuses, it's time, and honestly, I know it will muffle my screaming gut, so I breathe, brace myself, and toss it back. The sting of pain and string of curses rise up and vanish within a moment. The relief is nearly immediate. My stomach is settled, my senses are clear, and my heart rate is racing. I took my shot, and I scored.