It seems like everyone is talking about water these days and how much you should be drinking. And I’ll be honest here, staying hydrated has often been a problem for me. Not because I don’t like water… I do. I just don’t think about it, especially in the cold winter months of Michigan. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the effects. When I’m not getting enough water, I find that I’m sluggish, irritable, and seriously struggle with food cravings. And that’s in addition to headaches and body aches. UGH! Unfortunately, I’m not a snap out of it person so finding ways to prevent this has been a serious mission for me. After trying SO many tricks… most of which resulted in my pounding water just before bed and waking up 3 times in the middle of the night, I’ve found a few that really work and thought I’d share them with you! Pick a few of these 7 easy hacks to drink enough water every day!
How Much Water do You Need?
Before we set out to talk about how to get more water let’s get an idea as to how much we need. I’m sure you’ve all heard the 8 glasses a day rule. And more recently you’ve likely started using your body weight as an indicator. You know… drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Or you may be striving to drink a gallon a day, following the advice of your favorite guru.
I tossed out the 8 glasses a day idea many years ago because it simply didn’t make sense to me that both women and men of differing ages, health histories, activity levels, sizes, etc. need the same amount of water. So, I use and recommend the half of your body weight in ounces method as a general guideline. There’s still room for adjustment there though so there’s no need to be a stickler.
And when it comes to the gallon a day method, here’s the truth… you CAN overconsume water and it CAN be dangerous to do so. Plus, there is a point where you’re just putting a lot of effort into your urine. Most people don’t need a gallon of water a day. If you feel best consuming that much water, well, you do you, boo. But if it’s making you crazy, interfering with your sleep, or you’re not feeling well, listen to your body not a total stranger. If you aren’t sure, a dietician can help you determine how much water you need.
Factors to Consider when setting your water goal
I know that last bit might’ve made this conversation a little murkier than you would like. We all prefer a hard and fast rule, but the truth is you really need to be attentive to your body to know how much water you need. A good way to get yourself in the ballpark is to use the body weight method and then make some adjustments based on factors like those listed below.
Increase Your Goal
If you answer yes to any of the following, you might want to increase your goal. Simply add 6 – 8 oz to your water consumption and see how you feel.
- Do you live at a high altitude?
- Is the climate you live in hot and humid?
- Do you sweat a lot?
- Are you a big exerciser who routinely gets in 6+ hours a week?
- Is your diet lacking in plants?
- Are you pregnant or nursing?
Decrease Your Goal
If these factors apply to you, you may want to decrease your water goal by 6 – 8 oz until you find what’s best for you.
- Are you relatively inactive?
- Do you live in a colder climate?
- Not a sweater?
- Do you eat a lot of plants?
1. Give Up Rigid Rules
You may be wondering why I’m spending so much time in a post about how to drink more water telling you that you might not need that much to begin with. Well… it’s because I want you to take a moment to think about how you approach caring for YOUR body, which is unique and living in unique circumstances. One of the most important things we can do when it comes to drinking more is learn that our ideal amount isn’t the same as someone else’s. You might already be drinking enough water and that should be your first consideration. How would you know? Well, if your urine is light yellow or clear and you rarely feel thirsty, you probably are. If you aren’t sure, you can always check with a dietician or you can add another glass or two and see if it makes you feel better. If it does well than adjust your goal upward, if not or if it has negative impacts (like interrupting your sleep) drop it.
2. Drink Water 1st Thing in the Morning
Drinking a full glass of water in the morning is important for two reasons. One, you haven’t consumed any water all night and your body likely needs it. It’ll give you a burst of energy and help you wake clear headed and ready for your day. Two, starting your day with caffeine dehydrates you further and results in thirst and food cravings later in the day. Around 2 or 3 when you’re parched, you’re likely to mistake your thirst for hunger. When we eat due to cravings it usually isn’t something nourishing to our bodies, it’s foods that are taxing and have very little nutrients or water content. That means you continue to be dehydrated and are likely also dealing with some inflammation. Typically, this will make you painfully aware that you’re dehydrated, and you’ll start slamming all the water, just in time for dinner and bedtime. And, you know what that means… you’ll be up several times at night to use the bathroom. Which means you’ll wake exhausted, reach for that cup of coffee, and start the cycle all over again!
All of this can be avoided by simply drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake. Put it on your nightstand tonight and try it out! It’ll change your life.
3. Eat your Water
Yes! You read that right! You can eat your water! The reason why plant consumption is an indicator as to whether you need to add or subtract water from your goal is because they contain so much of it. Did you know that if you consume plants, you’re likely getting about 20% of the water you need from your food? Adding fruits and veggies with high water content into your diet helps keep you full, increase nutrient consumption, and keep you hydrated. Consider adding cucumbers, spinach, broccoli, apples, oranges, and other hydrating foods to your diet. You can find a more complete list here.
4. Flavor your Water
Who said you have to drink plain boring water in order to stay hydrated? There is no rule that you can’t naturally flavor your water using fruits, veggies, and herbs! Think beyond lemon slices to oranges, cucumbers, berries, mint, rosemary, and more. The only limits here are your imagination and personal tastes.
On my meal prep day, I simply cut up extra fruits and veggies to toss into my water throughout the week. Sometimes I’ll even prep mason jars with water and flavorings the night before and put them in the fridge. The longer you let them sit, the more flavorful they will be.
Don’t have time to do all that extra prep? No worries… grab some chopped or whole fruits and veg from you grocer’s freezer section. Or, when you have odds and ends that are about to spoil toss them in your home freezer for later use as water flavorings. This is a great way to enjoy your water and combat food waste at the same time.
Oh… and don’t forget that you can count all non-caffeinated, sugar free beverages. A word of caution though… juice isn’t as healthy as people often think it is so go easy there.
5. Set an Alarm
Keep yourself from feeling the pressure to drink all the water just before bed by reminding yourself throughout the day!
I don’t know about you, but I always have my cell phone on me during the day (even if it is in a phone nap bag). That makes it easy to set an alarm that reminds you that you should have completed your 2nd or 5th glass of water!
I drink about 4 20oz glasses a day (that just happens to be the size of my glass water bottle). So, if I set alarms, I’d finish the first one in the morning then set an alarm for 1pm, 5pm, and 8 – 9pm (by the way I go to bed around 11pm). Now that doesn’t mean I can’t drink anymore after 9 but reminding myself throughout the day prevents me from drinking 60oz between dinner and bedtime. Which I’m sure you can imagine is disastrous to my sleep schedule!
Just be sure to set a unique alarm tone for your water. You can even get a custom one that sounds like waterfalls, ocean waves, or running water.
6. Stack it
If you’ve never heard of habit stacking, it’s a method of creating a new habit by adding it into an existing one. For example, hack number 2 stacks water drinking with waking up. If you drink water as soon as you wake for about a month, it’ll become automatic.
It’s pretty simple to stack water drinking throughout the day with other things you know you’ll be doing in addition to waking. My 2 favorite things to stack water consumption with are eating and going to the bathroom.
Drinking a full glass of water at mealtime and at least 4 oz every time you go to the bathroom will ensure that you’re getting enough water and that it’s spaced throughout the day.
7. Keep it with you
Carrying water with you wherever you go makes it much easier to stay hydrated. And it will also keep you from indulging in sugary drinks or eating due to thirst.
Invest in a reusable water container that’s easy to carry. I’m a huge fan of hydroflask for my warm water beverages like herbal tea and love my glass water bottle or a yeti for cold or room temperature drinks.
Notice that I didn’t say plastic there! I want to take a moment to caution you about plastic water bottles, even those that are BPA free. Plastic is bad. Its production is bad and so is it’s use. BPAs aren’t the only concern. Unfortunately, plastic leaches into our beverages, especially in heat. I love the giant water containers with the motivational quotes too, but they are plastic, so I won’t use them, and I recommend you don’t either. Just stick to refilling your glass or thermal container. And when choosing one keep in mind they weigh more than plastic so you may want to get one that’s 20 oz or less. No one wants to carry a 5 lb water bottle everywhere they go!
Be Mindful & Flexible
Increasing your water consumption is an excellent goal to improve your health. It’s definitely part of the big picture. And you can try all the tips and hacks in this or the plethora of other articles out there to accomplish your goals. But at the end of the day water consumption is just like everything else in life, it boils down to being mindful and flexible.
Focusing your intention on what you’re drinking and why is the easiest way to make a change in your water intake. This requires being attentive to what you’re putting into your body which requires mindfulness. It’s time to break the habit of going through the motions in life and start living and nourishing ourselves with purpose.
And at the end of the day, there’s only one thing I can guarantee you in this post, you will miss it sometimes. You will have busy days, you will struggle to get all the water in, you will travel, life will happen. And guess what, that’s ok! You’re human! Be flexible and give yourself grace! Know that everyday is a new day and a fresh start. Don’t get stuck there and don’t try to make up for it. Just move on!