The first step towards being healthy? Drink water.
A few personal advantages
Someone I just met earlier this month asked me what the best way to eat healthy is. I admit some embarrassment to being stumped by the question. The thing is, though I consciously try to have a balanced diet and eat in moderation, my lifestyle does have a few distinct advantages:
- We’ve been consuming brown rice and brown bread at home for over a decade now, so ingesting brown carbs is something I’m very used to.
- I’ve always liked vegetables and leafy greens, even as a kid. Monggo for dinner, you say? Yay!
- I’ve never really been enamored with soda. I never really craved for the taste, so omitting it from my diet most days isn’t much of a sacrifice for me.
That said, I’m not perfect. I LOVE desserts, and I still – happily! – succumb to indulgent treats. I just make sure that I don’t succumb most days, haha!
Going back to that question though, my take is that if you want to start eating healthier, start small. Some people get so overwhelmed they just end up postponing their wellness aspirations indefinitely, so yes. I say start small, be consistent, and adopt one healthy practice at a time.
Want to live healthier? Drink water.
A great way to start is by drinking more water. I know it sounds like the most obvious truth, but seriously. Drop by any convenience store nowadays and you’ll immediately be assaulted by sooo many enticing thirst-quenching alternatives. Do you pick that fruit juice drink “made with real fruit”? What does “made with real fruit” even mean? How about that sports drink originally formulated for a football team? You’re no football player but heck, it’s really hot outside. What about that foreign-sounding coffee brand? The flavor sounds interesting; you’ve never had it before. And then somewhere tucked in the corner of the chiller you have bottles of classic H20.
That bottle of H20 may not be the most exciting choice at the onset, but the benefits are definitely worth getting excited about (that sounded like a sales pitch, haha!). Drinking water increases energy and relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion, boosts the immune system, and prevents cramps and sprains. And that impressive list isn’t even exhaustive.
More and more people seem to be taking note. According to a 2013 article by The Atlantic, the trend nowadays – at least in the US – is to drink more water: “Americans on average are down to 44 gallons of soda per year, and up to about 58 gallons of water.” That’s around 20 ounces daily, or 2.5 cups per person per day. That’s not enough water for a 24-hour period, but it’s still a pretty encouraging trend.
What happens if you don’t drink enough water
But what does happen if you don’t drink enough water? The following are just some of the telltale signs that you may be dehydrated:
- You have difficulty pooping.
- You just ate but you’re still hungry, or you have an unexplained craving for sweet or salty treats.
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded immediately after standing up.
- You have a mild headache.
- Your skin is dry, wrinkly, and flaky.
Take note that each item on the list may point to either dehydration or some other underlying health condition. If you suspect what you’re experiencing is due to something more serious, then please consult a health professional.
Tips for drinking more water
The ideal water intake quantity is 2.5 liters per day for women and 3.5 liters per day for men (more if you sweat a lot and/or if it’s super hot where you live). So how can you incorporate this ideal amount in your diet? Here are a few tips:
- Place a bottle of water on your desk for easy reach every time you get thirsty. You can buy one of those cute jugs like those timer bottles from Blogilates, or you can just purchase an ordinary over-sized mug and fill it to the brim.
- Use an app or a tracker to remind yourself to drink up. For instance, I use a Fitbit Flex 2 to remind myself to stretch my muscles every hour, but also to rest my eyes and drink a glass of water if need be.
- Check your pee. If it’s colorless or light yellow (and if it amounts to around 6 cups or 1.5 liters or more a day), then you’re good. If the hue’s darker than light yellow, then it might be a sign that you’re dehydrated.
- If you crave flavored liquids, get creative and add a few slices of your favorite fruit (like berries or lemons) in a pitcher of water. That photo of a jar of water above contains a bunch of basil leaves, and basil’s great for adding flavor to drinks too.
- Eat more produce like watermelon and spinach. They’re at least 90% water by weight.
How else can one drink an adequate amount of water? Do share your thoughts!
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Please consult your doctor if you have any health concerns.
The first photo’s from Andreas Kambanis.
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