Summer is quickly approaching and, for many people, this means fun in the sun on vacations, a two- to three-month reprieve from school for the kids (and teachers) and an increased risk for dehydration. Thirst and dry mouth are very early indicators that dehydration is occurring and progressing; take these symptoms seriously and grab something to drink (preferably water), or try eating a water-filled food (see below for your options).
Water is vital for life and a well-functioning body, and staying hydrated is important throughout the year. However, it’s vital to be aware of hydration during the summer months because increased temperatures and more time outdoors can result in more activity, more sweating and, therefore, a higher risk for dehydration.
Generally speaking, it’s usually recommended that people get six to eight glasses of water daily, which is equivalent to about 64 ounces of water a day. Staying hydrated is especially important for the elderly, pregnant or lactating women, children and anyone fighting an illness or chronic disease.
Not a water drinker? No problem. Many people need a bit more flavor in their beverages. If this describes you, try adding a flavor packet (multiple varieties are sold in stores and packaged in single-serving pouches with few to no calories). You could also try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber to your water. Though other drinks such as juices, carbonated drinks, teas, coffee, etc. can help keep you hydrated, they can have a lot of other ingredients or sweeteners along with hidden calories, which can make them less than ideal as top notch hydrators -- especially if you’re watching your waistline or are diabetic. However, if something besides water is your go-to beverage, try replacing one of those beverages with a glass of water at least once a day. If you’re looking for something new, try coconut water or an iced green tea.
Don’t forget, water is in the foods we eat as well. Food can account for as much as 20% of our hydration, while drinks account for the other 80%. So next time you’re tired of drinking water, try munching on some of the following items (mostly raw fruits and veggies) to help quench that thirst.
Even if you’re not much of a fruit or vegetable eater, the great thing about this basic list of water-packed foods is that many of them can be combined to make salads, side items or smoothies. Another good thing about this list is that most of these items are readily available throughout the season, which means you will be able to get them at their peak of freshness. In addition to aiding in your hydration needs, they’re full of vitamins and minerals and offer more fiber than simply drinking a glass of water!
Another option is to freeze some of the items (especially the fruits) listed above; you can use a basic ice cube tray and place a small berry or grape in each compartment after filling it with water. Once they’re frozen, use these fruit-filled ice cubes in your water, so after they’re melted, you have a bite or two of fruit as well.
Along those same lines, you can freeze yogurt as well. Use a small sandwich bag to pipe pea-sized amounts of yogurt onto a cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in the freezer. You will have a great snack option that’s not only filling, but also refreshingly cold.
Remember, as you gear up for summer and prepare for the picnics, trips and outdoor events, load the cooler with water and/or fresh fruit and veggies to help you maintain your hydration and balance the water going in with the sweat going out.
Sarah Koeninger RD LD is a dietitian licensed in Kentucky and Ohio. As a native Kentuckian, she group up as a Kroger shopper and began working in the Kroger Customer Connect (C|c) shortly after finishing her degree program at Eastern Kentucky University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in General Dietetics and a minor in business and completed her dietetic internship at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, OH. Her position within The Kroger Co. has always been in the Kroger Service Center, where she dedicates her time to answering customer questions regarding Kroger and banner brand products, gluten status, food allergens, nutrition label reading, ingredient statements, labeling laws and regulations, food safety and everything in between. Though her diet consists mainly of “healthy foods” – including Simple Truth fresh lettuces, fruits and vegetables, and almond milk – she does LOVE ice cream (as well as frozen yogurt, gelato, etc.) and almost all Italian food (her ultimate favorite being lasagna, thanks to her Italian heritage). She likes to cook though does not always follow recipes exactly (thanks again to her heritage) and loves to bake. She has participated in many sports throughout her life including volleyball, softball and women’s rugby, although she now she maintains her fitness through workouts like kickboxing and yoga, in hopes it will increase flexibility, fitness and patience. She lives with her husband, Kevin, in Erlanger, Kentucky, and is eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child in the Summer of 2013.
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