Water is essential to life.
We know this, but how many of us don’t drink enough of this essential substance every day? Do we even know how much we’re supposed to drink, or how often? Someone told me this week that you only have to drink when you’re thirsty. I’ve also heard that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. I’ve heard eight glasses of water a day, I’ve heard twelve, and I’ve wondered what a glass is. I’ve heard to take your weight, divide it in half, and drink that number of ounces every day. Not too bad if you weigh 130 pounds, but a little more daunting if you weigh 230. I’ve heard the caution about drinking too much water, but I’m not really worried about that. Unless you have a serious health issue or you’re drinking your entire daily intake at once, your chances of “water poisoning” are pretty slim. I’d guess most of us should be much more concerned about not drinking enough water than about drinking too much.
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist or an expert on water intake. I haven’t done much research and I don’t claim to be an expert. I can tell you that I feel better when I’ve had plenty of water during the day and I don’t feel well at all if I don’t. When I don’t have enough water, I’m sluggish, my head hurts, my skin dries out, and my body and brain don’t respond well.
When I do drink enough, I’m more alert, my digestive system works better, I stay awake better during the day, I feel healthy and refreshed and energetic. I drink plenty of coffee too, but I actually find that water in the morning wakes me up even faster than coffee does, and there’s no such thing as a water crash. And as I mentioned in my post on losing weight, increasing my water intake helped me shed several unwanted pounds.
Drinking water has always been a struggle for me. I don’t mind the taste of water. I just forget to drink it. In the past few months, I have gotten better at it, so I have a few tips to share if you’re like me and don’t usually get enough:
- Drink water when you wake up. I’ve made drinking water part of my morning routine. It’s one of the first things I do after I get out of bed. I pour a glass, usually about 10 ounces, and drink it all. Then I pour another glass and drink it while I make coffee and breakfast. That way, before I eat anything or even drink my coffee, I’ve already had at least 20 ounces of water. That’s a great start for the day.
- Put fruit or veggies in your water. I drink my morning water with a wedge of lemon. I usually leave that lemon in my glass all day and refill it periodically. If that sounds weird or gross to you, don’t do it. I find that the lemon keeps the water from tasting stale if it sits for a few hours, and the water keeps the lemon from going bad. I’ve also put strawberries in my water, and I’ve seen restaurants that add cucumbers, cranberries, rhubarb, mint, etc. Be inventive. You never know what you might like until you try it. Personally, I think there is minimal nutritional value in infused water, but it tastes pretty cool. I know there are cute little infusers out there, and you can certainly get one of those if you want. Some people put a drop of essential oil in their water, but I’m not convinced of the benefits of ingesting essential oils, so I don’t do it.
- Drink water before you eat. This is a really useful habit to get into, if you can remember to do it. Try drinking a whole glass of water before you eat even one bite of your meal or take a sip of whatever beverage you’re having with it. I find this helps me feel full faster and not eat as much, in addition to helping me remember to drink more water.
- Drink only water with meals. I know, right? Boring! This can be hard if you’re like me and feel terrible ordering water at restaurants. I feel so cheap when I do it, but the fact is that soda, sweetened tea, and alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories in addition to costing a lot of money. Maybe skip the soda and order dessert instead. Or a side of fries. Eat your calories, don’t drink them.
- Monitor your intake. Know how much your favorite glass or water bottle holds, and track what you drink. Write it on a notepad, make a note in your phone, or use an app. Know how much you’re drinking and how that measures up to your goal.
- Drink with friends. Be accountable. This month in Allie’s 30 Day Challenge on Facebook, we’re drinking water. You don’t have to be in my Facebook group (but you should be!) in order to get a friend or two to join you. We all need water. Let’s drink it together.
What do you think? Let’s talk. Feel free to share any benefits of drinking water that I might have missed, as well as any tips you have for drinking enough of it every day.