I’m the first to admit that drinking enough water is a big struggle for me. On a bad day, most of the water I drink is the water I use to make my coffee and tea.
I’ve had a couple of experiences that have made me realise, first-hand, the importance of staying hydrated. Often, I feel really dizzy when I stand up from sitting or crouching, whether it’s at work, home or the gym. I’ve also fainted when I was a unwell from the flu and couldn’t bring myself to drink much. Both my dizzy spells and this fainting happened because I wasn’t drinking enough. I know the fainting is a fairly extreme example, but it does happen, and it’s what has kicked me into gear to make hydration a priority for my health.
So why is hydration so important?
Water is essential for most of our bodily functions – heart, brain, muscle and digestive function, just to name a few. Drinking water helps us to maintain blood volume and blood pressure for the circulation of oxygen, nutrients and waste. When we don’t drink enough water it impacts our physical and mental performance, and can lead to dehydration.
Along with sustaining basic bodily functions, and you know, staying alive, there are so many added benefits to staying well hydrated. Here are a few…
- Boosts mood, energy and focus.
- Lubricates and cushions joints – especially important if you’re active.
- Keeps skin supple and plump – dehydrated skin looses elasticity.
- Can improve digestive, kidney and immune function.
- Helps to prevent and treat headaches.
- Can help with weight control – increases satiety and metabolism.
How much water to do need?
It’s said that women need 2.1L of water each day. This is a good, general advice to follow, but everyone’s hydration requirement can be different. Some factors that influence how much water we need are age, environment, activity levels, your general health, and whether you’re pregnant or breast feeding.
You may need to up your water intake if…
- You’re in hot or humid weather – this can make you loose more fluid through sweat.
- You’re unwell – replace the fluids you loose if you have diarrhoea and vomiting (consider rehydrating with electrolytes, like with hydralyte or a sports drink). Hydration is also super important when you have a fever or infection.
- You’re active or exercising – important for regulating body temperature, keeping joints lubricated and preventing dizziness and dehydration. Replace the fluid you loose when you sweat.
- You’re pregnant – your circulating blood volume increases during pregnancy to support the growth of your bub. Drink more water to support this higher blood volume.
- You’re breastfeeding – producing breast milk means that you’ll have a higher fluid requirement.
Simple Strategies To Help You Drink More Water
1. Drink water with meals.
It’s easy to just forget about drinking water during the day, but I don’t know many people who forget to eat! Use meal times as a prompt to drink a glass of water. This might also help with portion control as water increases your satiety an makes you feel fuller.
If you have a 250ml glass of water with breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s an easy 750ml boost to your daily water intake.
2. Think twice when you feel hungry.
Because some of the symptoms of hunger and thirst overlap, it can be hard to tell whether we need food or water. If you’re feeling grumbly in your tummy, then sure – have a snack. But feeling nauseous, dizzy, headachey or sluggish could be signs of hunger or dehydration/thirst.
If you can’t distinctly tell whether you’re hungry or thirsty, try drink a glass of water first, then reassess after 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Invest in a double walled insulated water bottle.
Just speaking from personal experience, I’m so much more likely to drink water if it’s nice and cold! Double walled insulated water bottles do such a good job! If you fill your bottle from the fridge it should keep cold all day long.
As a bonus you’ll be helping the environment by not using disposable plastic bottles – win win!
These bottles can be a bit expensive, depending on the brand. But you can get them for a very affordable price at somewhere like Target and Kmart.
4. Create habits around drinking water.
I use my drive to and from work as an opportunity to chug down some water, because it’s something I do almost every day. Now when I get into the car, I associate that with drinking water – it’s a habit. So now, each time I get in the car it can add between 200ml and 500mls to my daily water tally.
You can try create a habit of drinking water on your daily commute, or anything else you do most days. Perhaps when you sit down to check your emails, while you’re planning your day – anything that works for you!
5. Add some natural flavour.
If you struggle to get plain water down you could try adding some natural flavours to it to make water more enticing. Try adding things like fresh lemon, lime, cucumber, mint or berries.
These options are much healthier than adding artificial flavours like cordial, flavoured water drops and powders.
6. Use a time marked water bottle.
If all else fails you could always use a water bottle that’s marked with times to keep you on track. I was actually given one of these by a friend after I had my fainting episode (just a subtle little hint to drink some more bloody water, girl!). It was actually a really great way to keep rack of my water intake and make sure I was getting enough water throughout the day.
You could DIY your own time marked bottle by using a decal or sticker like this one, but there are some cool bottles available to buy too.
One last thing to mention…
Have you ever suddenly decided to drink 2L in a day (when you usually only have a couple of glasses) and then spent most of your time on the loo?
Our bodies are all about balance. So if we make a big, sudden change in how much we drink, our bodies just want to get rid of the excess water to keep our electrolytes in balance.
So I recommend, instead of going hell for leather, make small gradual changes to up your water intake. Try taking on one or two of these strategies each week, until you’re regularly hitting your daily water goal.
This way you you can hopefully create sustained habit change and slowly get your body used to it’s new normal of being well hydrated.
I hope these tips for drinking more water help you feel your best!