Here’s the thing about water. We all know how important it is to drink enough on a daily basis but for many of us, it’s a struggle. If there was one magic bullet to improving our health, it’s water. If you know you are not getting enough, it’s time to increase your intake.
Common hydration mistakes
One of the most common hydration mistakes I see is “forgetting to drink”. We have so much to think about during the day, and water just does not take center-stage.
Solution: Re-fillable bottle. Not only is it good for the environment but it’s an instant cue to remember to drink. If its 16 ounces, fill it up 4 times, 32 ounces, fill it up twice. Create a habit – make filling your water bottle (and drinking some) the first thing you do each day. Once this becomes a habit, getting in your water will come naturally.
Problem: Only after sweating or only in the summer
Solution: Pre-hydrate. We need water year round and we need fluids before, during and after exercise. We are more inclined to drink up when we feel thirsty which is usually in the heat or after sweating, but that’s not enough. While sweating increases water needs, hydration is just as important as re-hydrating. So, drink up and if you crave something warm in the winter, try herbal tea or warm water with a squeeze of lemon
Problem: We wait until we are thirsty to drink
Solution: Don’t let thirst be your cue to hydrate. You have probably heard before that thirst is actually the first sign of de-hydration, yet so often our inclination to drink is once we feel thirsty. Remember this: among the benefits of water are increased energy and improved metabolism, so don’t rush for your coffee until you have started with water (don’t worry, we are not eliminating that morning java).
Water makes up more than half of our body weight. Staying hydrated is important for so many reasons. Being hydrated helps our skin, digestion, metabolism and energy. While 8 glasses per day is not science (actual needs vary from person to person based on weight, age, activity level amongst other factors), 64 ounces is a good average. Another estimate is to divide your body weight in half (a 160-pound person would need 80 ounces). Clear, odorless urine is usually a good indicator of adequate hydration.
Here are a few helpful hints
- If plain water gets boring, try a water infusion using vegetables, herbs or fruits. (See below to get some of our favorite recipes)
- Use unsweetened green or herbal tea as a base instead of plain water. Add infusions to your tea – mint, lemon green tea is so refreshing
- Make fruit cubes. This is a great activity to help encourage children to drink more water (and steer them away from juice). Add berries, citrus fruit cut small or herbs to ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze. Instant flavor, color and fun.
- Add bubbles. Fizzy mint tea is refreshing, light and so delicious. Follow this simple recipe: Brew a strong mint tea and refrigerate to chill. Add 20 ounces of chilled tea to a 32 ounce water bottle. Add 8 ounces fizzy water, a few ice cubes and citrus of choice.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Yes, another reason to load up on an array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are some standouts: cucumber, celery, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries and watermelon.
- Good news for java fans – the myth of coffee dehydrating has been all but de-bunked. So, count your cup or two of java toward your fluid needs. Just don’t overdo it and leave the cream, sugar and frothy milk out if you want fluid credit.
- Alcohol is dehydrating so practice moderation. A good strategy is to start with water first. Then, after your drink have another plain or sparkling water. This small trick helps with balance and control.
- Feeling hungry? Pause to drink before you eat. Sometimes, thirst can be confused for hunger. So drink up and wait 10 minutes. As an added benefit, chances are you will eat less!
- Warm it up. On a chilly day, its common not to crave cold water so try hot water with a wedge of lemon or a warm herbal tea. Since herbal tea has gained popularity, chances are you can find one you love (just make sure its not sweetened).