If a tall, cold glass of water is not really your thing, hitting your daily water needs can seem out of reach. Here are some healthy ways to stay hydrated, even if you don’t like plain old water.
Whenever I write about staying hydrated, I hear from folks who just don’t like water. And honestly, plain water is not my favorite thing either. If I’m very thirsty, I crave a glass of water, but it’s hard to get jazzed about water on a regular day.
The trick with drinking more fluids is that you don’t want to add a bunch of sugary drinks, like soda and juice, to your daily routine. Drinking your calories is bad news for maintaining a healthy body weight, and excess sugar is linked to chronic disease and even depression.
The good news is that there are ways to stay hydrated without drinking glass after glass of plain water or resorting to sugary drinks. These are some of my favorite healthy, hydrating tricks.
1. Eat your water
At a recent nutrition conference I attended, one of the doctors said that if you eat a lot of fruit and veggies, you don’t end up needing to drink as much, because you’re actually eating your water. A 2013 study found that eating more fruits and vegetables can make you significantly more hydrated without upping the water you’re drinking at all.
Choose fruits and veggies with high water content, like melons, strawberries, lettuce, celery and cabbage. Check out this chart, which breaks out food and drink by their percentage of water content.
2. Pass the bubbles
No, a mimosa is not a healthy, hydrating drink, but sparkling water can help you hit your water mark. Soda water or seltzer sometimes get a bad rep, but most experts agree that they’re just as hydrating as water.
The biggest myth about carbonated water is that it leaches calcium from your bones. This is not true. Drinking lots of soda is linked to lower bone density, but the bubbles are not to blame. Excessive sugar consumption (like from drinking lots of sweet sodas), on the other hand, does have links to osteoporosis. Maybe this is where that myth got started.
3. Flavored water
Skip the artificially sweetened, colored and flavored drink packets, and flavor your own water at home. To make your own flavored water, just squeeze in some fresh lemon or lime juice or float cut fruit or herbs in your glass. It’s visually appealing and a lot healthier than a super sweet soda or artificially flavored drink. Plus, you end up with a little snack at the bottom of your glass!
I like to use this trick with flat or sparkling water, so try each and see which one you like best! Try some of my Fruity Fizz combos to get you started. Pro tip: frozen fruit pieces actually work best here, because they release more flavor as they thaw.
4. Tea up
Whether you drink it hot or iced, unsweet tea gives you a nice flavor boost with no added sugars. Different teas each come with their own health benefits, so you get a healthy double whammy when you choose unsweetened teas.
If you’re a sweet tea or soda drinker now, going straight to unsweet tea is not going to be pleasant. I’d recommend making a gradual switch so your palate has time to adapt. Start with 3/4 the amount of sugar for a week, then go to 1/2 the amount, then 1/4. From there, you should be able to cut out the sugar without missing it too much. It will be an adjustment, but it’s so worth it for your health!
5. Ditch the juice (mostly)
The tips above are for drinks to add to your daily routine, but I think that juice deserves its own mention, because it gets a lot more healthy cred than I feel it deserves. Drinking more sweet juices is not doing your body any favors. Sweet juices like apple, orange and grapefruit are basically uncarbonated soda. Even juices without added sugars contain high levels of fructose without any of the fiber that makes fruit healthy.
There are some exceptions when it comes to juices. Not all juice is high in sugar. Lemon, lime, unsweetened cranberry and most vegetable juices are not going to add a lot of sugar to your diet. A splash of unsweetened cranberry in water or seltzer is one of my favorite everyday drinks, and it’s very low in sugar. If you’re not sure whether the juice you’re drinking is high in sugar, look at the nutrition label. Many popular juices contain as much sugar as soda. Apple juice, for example, has 24 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving. Eight ounces of Coca Cola contains 26 grams.