A few months ago, I realized that my liquid intake was exclusively limited to coffee, tea, wine and beer. All of those are dehydrating and none of them are water. Water, in my opinion, was simply not satisfying and therefore not something I ever considered drinking. Does that sound familiar? Well, fear not, with commitment and dedication I set out on a Drink More Water challenge, and I’m now here to share some of my best (aka most successful) tips to help you drink more water even if you don’t like it.
If you’re not already addicted to it, chances are you find water to be a rather boring beverage. There are numerous studies that show drinking water can treat a myriad of health issues, from heart health to clean blood and a well regulated digestive system right down to possibly even treating Alzheimer’s disease. Not to mention the weight management benefits. Even knowing all this, somehow it becomes a serious challenge to increase our water intake on the daily!
Amazingly enough, your body is 55%-65% water. Each day, you use up some of that water by going to the bathroom, sweating, crying or tearing, and various other means. That water needs to be replaced, but if you’re only drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages like I was, chances are you’re one of the approximately 75% of people who suffer from chronic dehydration.
If you can make this unbelievably simple (though obviously not easy) habit change and start to drink more water each day, you could see changes in your health and well being almost immediately.
Health Benefits of Drinking More Water
I’m just going to go with a bullet list here, because most of them are pretty self explanatory…
- Weight Management – not only does drinking water help you feel full, but more often than not, when you “feel hungry” what you’re actually experiencing is dehydration. Drink more water, eat less food!
- Healthier, Younger Looking Skin – water not only helps to provide necessary moisture to your skin, but it also helps your cells regenerate and access the nutrients required for elasticity, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and evens out skin tone.
- Waste Management – by this, I mean a digestive system that is able to move waste out of your body like it’s supposed to, reducing both constipation and diarhea and allowing your body to better process the nutrition you provide it.
- Better Brain Function – our brain desperately needs water (and healthy fats) to function. One of the first symptoms of dehydration is headaches, brain fog and lack of focus. With adequate water, you’re brain will be firing on all cylinders again!
- Does Your Body Good – overall, water helps make sure your inner system is operating efficiently. It moves everything – whether that is moving waste and toxins out of the body, or ensuring nutrients and blood supply go where they’re needed. Essentially, nearly every aspect of your health can be improved with proper hydration!
How to Drink More Water Even If You Don’t Like It
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good challenge! Especially when it’s against myself. I am a sucker for beating my own personal bests. So, create a challenge of your own like I did, or join a group challenge, if that’s more your style. You could even ask your co-workers to set up a Drink More Water weekly office pool or game or something.
The biggest hurdle for me was not having water when I was supposed to be drinking it. Water isn’t all created equal. Depending on where you live, you might need to have access to filtered or bottled water instead of tap water. For me, I had to have COLD water or else I wouldn’t drink it at all. Make sure that you have easy access to the water of your choice in order to set yourself up for success.
Track Your Success
Keeping track of how you’re doing is also hugely motivating. You could create a fun little bullet journal graph for yourself, post a chart to the wall beside your desk, download an app…whatever works for YOU. But keeping track will not only help you remember how much water you’ve had on any particular day, but it will start to create a little dopamine hit every time you get to check off a job well done.
One of the best ways to develop new habits is to reward yourself for good behaviour. Yup, just like training your pup, you get a treat when you do something right! Don’t sabotage your health in an non-water related way by say, getting a handful of candy every time you drink a glass of water. Instead, tell yourself that if you reach your water drinking goals for the day, you’ll get a enjoy a glass of wine after dinner. Or perhaps, after a week of success, you can go out and splurge on an extra pretty water bottle, to make drinking water even more enjoyable. Again – figure out what works best for you, but make sure it’s a reward, not just permission to indulge in a different vice.
Enhance Your Water
Adding lemon to my water makes it an entirely different experience. Some people add berries or cucumber or mint. Not only is this going to help you drink more water, it can add versatility to your water (so it’s not so boring) AND it adds nutrition as well!!! I strongly recommend enhancing your own water naturally – aka with plants, not packaged goods – instead of spending the extra cash on enhanced water that has who knows what added to it.
This is probably the tip that worked the best for me. Habit stacking is essentially adding a new habit to an already existing habit. So, for me, I was a chain coffee/tea drinker. I would have a coffee, and when that was empty, a tea. And then I would start all over again until my work day was over. And in the evenings I would drink a few beers, or a few glasses of wine. When challenging myself to drink more water, I agreed with myself that BEFORE I had any non-water beverage, I would drink a glass of water. That’s it. It naturally forced me to cut down on the coffee/tea/wine/beer I was drinking, and it naturally increased the amount of water I drank dramatically. And it was super easy to stick to!
You can stack water onto any habit that flows throughout your day. Maybe you drink a glass of water after you use the toilet each time. Or you could drink a glass of water before eating each meal. Make a drinking game out of it – every time your favorite TV character does a very character thing to do…drink! Get creative.
In addition to drinking more water by integrating any of the above tips, you can also hydrate with water alternatives.
Coconut water is a very trendy choice these days, and it is extremely beneficial to your health because it adds the electrolytes you need in proportion to the water it provides your body with.
You can also eat your water. Foods high in water content can help you re-hydrate while you snack. Try cucumber, watermelon, most fruits, tomatoes, or even a nice broth based soup!
Additional Hydration Techniques
Starting to drink more water is a huge step in the re-hydration process, but gallons of water on it’s own isn’t the answer. In order to re-hydrate safely and effectively, we also need to replace vital minerals known as electrolytes. Sodium, potassium and magnesium, in particular.
In today’s world, very few of us lack the sodium we need to stay healthy. The same cannot be said for potassium and/or magnesium. With a whole foods, plant based diet, however, this is easy to address.
Sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, beans, nuts and seeds are all rich in potassium. As an added benefit, you’ll be reducing your risk for stroke and heart disease by lowering your blood pressure while you eat for hydration! Other side effects may include increased bone strength and decreased risk for kidney stones!
Adding avocado, almonds, leafy greens, figs and even dark chocolate will take care of any magnesium deficiencies you may have in a delicious manner. In addition to feeding your new water habit, you can rest assured that you may be adding protection against such health issues as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, ADHD, hypertension, migraines and, once again, heart disease.Easy Techniques to Drink More Water, And Plenty Of Reasons Why You Should! Click To Tweet
It’s Time To Drink More Water
With all the benefits that can come from drinking more water each day, and pretty much no negative side effects, it really is time to conquer this seriously easy health challenge for yourself. You don’t need to go crazy, as over-hydration can be detrimental to your health.
Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no magic number – every body is unique and will require a unique amount of water each day. Your intake will even vary from day to day, based on your activities. Instead of focusing on number of ounces or litres, a good way to keep track of your hydration levels is to watch your pee. I know, it’s not necessarily dinner conversation, but it’s easy to do.
Dehydration will cause your urine to darken, and usually will have a stronger smell. Ideally, you want a light yellow hue. Clear is ok, but when you hit this point, you know you’re well taken care of.