water, water everywhere

12 Jan

One of the most common pieces of healthy-living advice (or weight-loss advice, or skin-care advice, et cetera, et cetera) is to drink a lot of water. It’s true, of course, that it is good for you. And it can go a long way toward improving your eating habits, by making sure that you’re not eating when you’re really thirsty or drinking a lot of calories.

That said, not all of us like to drink quarts of water. It is difficult for me to do. I don’t like the taste of it, unless it’s icy cold, and I have two small children, so I don’t always have time to sit and drink a glass of water while it’s still cold.

Here are a few things that help me:
* Consider your alternatives. I drink a lot of decaf iced tea. I know some people argue that it’s not the same as drinking water, but it’s still pretty darn good for you (I drink it unsweetened), and it will keep you hydrated. Some people also swear by a squirt of lemon, lime, or orange juice in the glass of water, or by putting a pitcher into the fridge with some sliced fruit or cucumbers in it. I’m not crazy about those things, myself, but if you like it, go for it. Herbal teas can be good, too, especially if you’re craving a hot drink.

* Monitor your intake. Find an easy way to keep track. Some possibilities: a lot of people find one glass or water bottle that is their special, designated water vessel, and then figure out how many of them to drink per day. I do this, although I count my iced tea! Some people have good luck with putting a number of rubber bands around the cup and removing one each time you finish the water, so that you know when you’ve hit the goal, or put the right number of magnets on one side of the fridge and move them over as you finish glasses of water. Whatever works. But keeping track can help, because many of us don’t realize how little we drink.

* If you don’t like water, you can get some of that water in foods. Fruits and vegetables (especially high-water ones like cucumbers and watermelon) are great for hydration. Soups can be good, too, although packaged soup is usually salty enough that the sodium going to outweigh the hydration benefits. If you make your own, use homemade or low-sodium broth and avoid adding salt.

* If you like other drinks that are less good for you (my particular vice is diet Dr. Pepper–I know, I know, it’s clearly the worst part of my daily diet), decide what water you will drink before you have the less-healthy drink. For me, I have to drink two tall glasses of water before I’ll open a soda.

* If you use a water bottle, keep track of how big it is. A lot of the time, people get overwhelmed thinking they have to drink bottle after bottle–but my bottle is 20 oz, for example, which is 2.5 glasses of the 8 per day that many people recommend. So I try to drink three bottles in a day if I’m out and about, teaching or whatever.

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