Getting a sufficient amount of water in daily is a common struggle that I, and often others, have. In fact, not drinking enough water can become a difficult habit or pattern to break. Changing this pattern requires me to constantly be mindful of my water intake during the day. I have had to utilize different strategies to improve my water intake, as I don’t often feel thirsty, so I can’t rely on that to prompt me.
I have been working on the challenges that deter me from getting enough water. One big challenge I have identified is getting enough water in during a workday versus a day I’m not working. I find that I get busy and tend not to take the time to hydrate, so I have been using these strategies to help me improve my water intake:
- Use zero-calorie water flavor enhancers. Liquid flavor enhancers travel well and are convenient.
- Add variety by drinking zero-calorie sparkling water with or without flavoring, or infuse water with fresh fruit, veggies and herbs. See recipe below.
- Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator (flavored, infused or just plain filtered).
- Use a water bottle to have water available at all times and to help you track daily intake.
- Drink with a straw or a water bottle with a spout, as it may help you increase your intake.
- Drink one glass of water after every bathroom break and before meals.
- Set a goal to drink at least one bottle of water on the drive to work and another from work.
- Sip water during workouts.
- In the winter, ice water can make you feel even colder, which may hinder your intake, so try occasionally skipping the ice or opting for a warm drink, such as caffeine-free tea or sugar-free hot cocoa.
- Keep daily records to track and be mindful of water intake during the day, or if you prefer, use a water reminder app, which will send a reminder and track your water intake.
- Eat foods that contain higher amounts of water, such as melon, cucumbers, celery and broth-based soups.
- Drink a glass of water while you wait for your coffee to brew, or set a rule to drink a glass of water before a second cup of coffee.
A few more strategies that I have not yet tried, but might be helpful:
- Use a smart water bottle and app that sends information directly to your cell phone.
- Add crushed red pepper to your food, as the spice will increase your need for water, and studies show peppers boost your metabolism.
- Make ice pops by blending fruit, almond milk and water together and pouring into freezer molds.
- After brushing and rinsing your teeth, make it a habit to drink a glass of water.
- Trade your vitamin tablet in for vitamin water drops to help with getting another glass of water in.
- Set deadlines and aim to drink a certain amount by 10 a.m., midday, 2 p.m. and evening, for example.
- Create water intake challenges with friends and colleagues.
- Set your cell phone alarm as a reminder.
- Freeze lemons, limes or other fruit for use in place of ice cubes.
- Drink hot water with lemon and/or herbs at night before bed.
Along with utilizing these tips, try motivating yourself with frequent reminders of the health benefits that are associated with staying well hydrated, including:
- Water is important in order for every single cell in the body to function properly.
- The digestive system functions better with adequate hydration, preventing constipation.
- Water aids in flushing toxins from the body; promotes good kidney function; keeps your joints and muscles lubricated; supports healthier, younger-looking skin; and helps to regulate body temperature.
- Staying hydrated can help ward off headaches and migraines, as dehydration can be a factor.
- If you frequently feel tired or fatigued, it may be due to inadequate intake of water, as fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration.
- Water can aid in preventing bad breath by flushing away food particles and bacteria
- Water can aid with weight loss. Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals will reduce your tendency to eat more, and adequate hydration can help the body break down and burn fat at a faster rate.
3 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 strawberry, sliced
3-5 cucumber slices
Combine all the ingredients in a large glass. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Arlene Hrdlicka is a registered nurse in Weight Management Services in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.