A desire to increase your water intake is a common health goal for many. Hydration is so important! Adequately hydrating ourselves can help with overall organ function, body temperature regulation, lubrication of joints, infection prevention, delivery of nutrients to cells, as well as overall improvements in sleep quality, cognition and mood. And what you may not realize is that we are losing water all day long - through sweating, exhaling (breathing out), and elimination of waste (or going to the bathroom). If you struggle with your overall water intake, this post is to hopefully provide a couple of ways to help with this.
If you don’t necessarily enjoy the taste of plain water, the addition of items such as fruit or herbs can make for a delicious flavor experience as you sip on your H2O. Some ideas include: orange slices and mint; lime or lemon slices and cucumber; or frozen fruit such as berries or peach segments. You can also enjoy both flavored plain/seltzer water or add a splash of lemonade or juice to water to enhance the flavor!
However it’s important to note that if you are adding a bunch of flavorings to your water in lieu of actually eating the things that you want that may be a disordered behavior to be mindful of. Say trying to chug down water flavored with orange slices instead of eating a creamsicle or using a flavor powder that “tastes” like a popular candy, but not giving yourself permission to actually enjoy said candy. If you find this resonates with you, I encourage you to speak to a trusted support, either a loved one or someone on your treatment team about this.
Caffeinated beverages such as sodas, tea and coffee do count towards our overall daily fluid consumption. However, these beverages are considered a diuretic, which means they can promote increased urination and thus fluid loss. So while it’s a misconception that they generally dehydrate us, focusing on other more hydrating drinks throughout the day is important too.
Drinking beverages is not the only way to help prevent dehydration. Luckily, many foods are composed mostly of water. Foods with high water content include most fruits and vegetables. Other foods such as soups and stews can help with our fluid intake as well. Just make sure you’re eating complete meals and snacks and incorporating adequate fat, protein, and carbohydrate alongside these hydrating food sources!
Finally, while this post is focused on ways to help with hydration, it would be remiss not to acknowledge that focusing on hydration over adequacy in overall food intake can be a common eating disorder or disordered eating behavior. The sentiment of “just drink water if you think you’re hungry” can cause confusion and distrust in our bodily signals, and encourage missing meals and snacks. Our bodies require adequate water AND energy (aka food) on a daily basis, and focusing solely on hydration may actually be at the expense of overall good health.