Many of us naturally drink more liquids when it’s hot, which is a good thing as hydration is especially important during warmer months. Every cell and every organ in your body needs water to operate properly. Water is needed for many of the chemical reactions that occur constantly in your body, and it’s essential for producing body fluids. An adequate level of hydration is necessary for homeostasis, and without water people die in a matter of a few days. Our bodies trigger the sensation of thirst when they need more water (at least most of the time—elderly people often don’t feel thirst signals strongly). And it’s certainly easy to drink water when you’re really thirsty. But even if you aren’t feeling thirsty, it’s still wise to drink water throughout the day.
For some people, the thought of drinking water is so, well…boring. For them, plain ol’ water clearly cannot compare with the vast selection of flavored, carbonated and enhanced beverage selections available pretty much everywhere. I know. I used to prefer most any drink over water. A dietitian who doesn’t like to drink water? I know. Hence, I learned to like it. I trained myself to like it because I knew my body needed it for proper functioning and overall health. Here are a three ways to help yourself learn to like drinking water (or at least dislike it less).
#1 Link water to daily habits
Humans are creatures of habit, which means we already do some things every single day, and usually at about the same times every day. Tagging water drinking onto another habit you already have is a way to incorporate more water drinking into your day quite naturally. I started a water “habit” this way and it was relatively painless. For example, have a glass of water first thing in the morning—many folks take medications or vitamins then anyhow and need water to wash them down. Have a glass of water each time you brush your teeth. Have a glass of water each time you have a break at work (before you have coffee!).
I also suggest having a glass of water prior to eating each meal and snack. Not only does it help you hydrate, but it fills up your stomach a bit so can also have a calorie-control impact as well. That alone will get you to about 8 glasses of water a day (which is not a required number by the way, but is a decent goal nonetheless). After a while, drinking water can become a good habit that you don’t even think about. Oh, and don’t forget to get a water bottle that you like and is easy to drink from, and tote it around with you for sips on the fly.
#2 Augment your agua
While plain water is great, sometimes you want to wet your whistle with something more zingy. For that, go for options that add no calories (or very few) so you don’t end up undoing one of the benefits of no-calorie water. You can get all fancy by using a water pitcher (or water bottle) made for infusing water with other ingredients, but it’s not necessary. Here are some easy ways to take your water up a notch:
- Add crushed fresh herbs: mint, basil, lemon verbena and even rosemary and sage are good options
- Add fruit: cubed seedless watermelon, peeled and sliced peaches, and berries work well (it’s also a good way to use fruit that is a tad past its prime). If you like, crush the fruit gently then add the water. Frozen fruit works well, too and is available year round.
- Add sliced cucumber—it tastes like you’re at a spa!
- Add sliced citrus—be sure to wash the outside of the citrus fruit well first of course (and remove any sticker that might be present on the rind)
- Make ice cubes out of your favorite 100% juice and add a few to your glass of water—pretty and tasty!
#3 Bring on the bubbles
There’s no rule that says your water has to be still. I happen to love carbonation sometimes, and seltzer has no more calories than regular tap water or bottled water. There are lots of no-calorie water-based beverages on the market to choose from. Do read labels because some products that appear to just be flavored seltzer water actually have quite a bit of juice, sweeteners or other ingredients added to them that you may not want. (And if you do want something added, you can add it yourself using the ideas listed above, or by getting stir-in flavoring drops or powders).