By Rachel Simson, MS, RD, CDN, Clinical Dietitian
Getting enough fluid every day is important for your health. Dehydration can cause headaches, lethargy, muscle weakness and a host of other problems. So what is adequate hydration, and how do we meet these needs through drinking and eating? Here are some tips.
- Drink a water-based beverage (water, juice or milk) with every meal and snack — between 8 and 16 oz. You should drink a minimum of 8–10 cups per day, but aim for 10–12 cups if you are more active. (1 cup = 8 oz.)
- Consume fluids before you are thirsty. By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated! Use the color of your urine as an indicator to know if you are drinking enough. Urine should be a pale yellow color. If you notice a darker yellow, you may need to increase your fluid intake.
- If you drink caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea and sodas), alternate decaffeinated beverage intake throughout the day. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol are diuretics. Diuretics increase the excretion of water from the body rather than hydrating.
- Try calorie-free, fruit-flavored waters to add some variety. Some versions are flavored no-calorie waters, some are flavored with low-calorie sweeteners and others contain enhancements like vitamins (speak with a Registered Dietitian or physician prior to consuming these).
- Dilute juices. For some people, fruit and vegetable juices taste too thick or sweet. Some just people just don’t want the extra calories. Try diluting them with water or, for a fizzy kick, use club soda.
- Eat your water. Most of your fluid needs are met through the water and beverages you drink. However, you can get some fluids through the foods that you eat as well. For example, broth soups and foods with high water content – such as celery, tomatoes, or melons – can contribute to fluid intake.
- Carry a water bottle with you. This is a great way to maintain your hydration level when doing outdoor activities or running errands, especially in warmer months. Aim for reusable bottles, and make sure they are BPA-free.
- Order water when eating out. This will keep you hydrated, save money and reduce calories all at the same time.
- Add citrus. Adding a slice of lime or lemon to your water may improve the taste and make you want to drink more water than you usually do.
- Keep a “water intake” journal. Seeing your track record can help motivate you to maintain your fluid requirements. Try one of the many apps that track fluids, calories and nutrients.