You’ve probably heard that you’re supposed to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. But what if you don’t like water and can’t imagine drinking that much every single day?
"As we get closer to warmer weather, it's important to make drinking plenty of water part of your everyday routine," says Troy Mueller, R.D.N., a clinical dietitian with Carilion Clinic's Dining and Nutrition Services.
Your body relies on water for nearly every function. It helps your metabolism and allows you to digest food and flush out toxins. It keeps your heart working effectively and improves blood flow. It even makes your skin look better.
Are You Drinking Enough?
"When you’re dehydrated, you may feel tired or have a headache, and your brain just doesn’t work as well as it could," says Troy. "So drinking water is one way to make sure you're at your best."
How much water you actually need depends on your size and how active and healthy you are, so talk to your physician or nutritionist to find out what’s just right for you.
"The color of your urine is a good way to tell if you’re drinking enough water," explains Troy. "It should be pale yellow. If it’s darker than that, you need more water."
Let every trip to the bathroom be a reminder to pour a fresh glass of water, and keep in mind that alcohol and large amounts of caffeine can dehydrate your body.
How To Drink More
If you struggle to keep up with the amount of water you should be drinking each day, take a look at Troy's helpful hints:
- Keep a bottle of water at your desk and one in your car so that you sip throughout the day.
- Get a reusable water bottle or cup that you like; maybe it is your favorite color or has a picture of your kids on it.
- If you take medication, drink a few extra gulps of water with your pills.
- Try out different temperatures. Don’t like cold water? Try it room temperature. Or drink hot, herbal (decaffeinated) tea!
- Make iced tea with flavored decaffeinated tea bags.
- You can also put fruit slices or herbs in your water to add flavor; try lemon, orange, strawberry or kiwi slices, or mint leaves (smash them up first so the flavor will infuse your water).
- Freeze pieces of fruit and use them as ice cubes.
Some fruits and vegetables by themselves are a good source of water and you can get some of your water intake for the day by eating them. Troy points out that watermelon, lettuce, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries are not only healthy and delicious, they’re made largely of water. You can even try combining some of these into a smoothie.
If you absolutely think you could never drink anything but soda, Troy recommends flavored, sparkling waters. Choose one that is flavored only with fruit essence, not artificial sweeteners. You'll get sparkle without the sugar, chemicals and calories. Plus, according to the American Heart Association, even just one sugary drink per day could increase your risk of stroke and dementia in addition to adding unneeded empty calories to your diet.