What to Drink?

Originally posted on May 22, 2015

The first question people ask when they're given a suggestion from their doctor that they need to change their diet due to some health condition or other is "but what do I eat?".  Mostly because our diet of convenience of the past 2 or 3 generations is what is making us sick and fat.  I think I've covered the "what to eat" question fairly well, if you still have questions about that, I'd be happy to support you.  Click the "Contact" menu above.

Something that a lot of people don't think about when starting off on a new healthy lifestyle plan though is "what should I be drinking?"  

I'm not a calorie counter.  Generally I'll suggest that you eat good foods until you are satisfied, but not full.  For beverages, if you're actually thirsty, you're already dehydrated and you need water.  Not coffee.  Not coke.  Not juice.  Just plain, clear, cool, water.  All too often with our typical SAD (standard American diet, goes for Canadians too!) we drink too many of our calories, or too much fake, calorie free stuff, and nothing that will actually slake our thirst.

Water from the tap is perfectly fine.  If you don't like the taste of the chlorine used in municipal water, then get a jug filter, a tap filter, or an at the source filter for your home.  I have a Brita jug, but I use PC filters in it because they're a little less costly.  I have used a PUR tap filter before, but it kept falling off, and got a bit annoying.  I would love to have one of these Strauss Water systems in my kitchen, but it's not in the budget right now.  Even better would be a whole home water filter, so that it also filters out the crap for the shower as well, but alas, that's even *more* not in the budget!

So, once you've filtered your water with any of the above methods, then what?  Plain water is boring right?  That's why nobody drinks it.  They're so used to sweetened juices, pops, artificial flavourings, colours and junk, that they can't just drink a plain ol' glass of nice refreshing water.  Well, suck it up buttercup!  Plain water is what is best for you, it'll rehydrate you, flush out your kidneys, and keep your bladder clean.  It'll also help you pass digested foods through your intestines more easily.  Hydrated fiber is so much easier to pass than dried chunky fiber!  Trust me on this one ;)

Never mind the 8 glasses of water per day rule either.  Cuz, well, what size glasses?  They never do say do they?  Which is why dietary recommendations are all too confusing, they're never really clear on their instructions.  So just go with keep drinking until you're not thirsty.  And then keep a glass handy at all times.  Me, I drink between 2 and 3 liters of fluids every day.  Notice how I said "fluids" and not just water.  You can also consider the foods you're eating as part of your hydration plan.  If you eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, they contain a lot of water naturally, and will contribute to keeping your intestines hydrated for good digestion.  But they must be accompanied by actual fluids, mostly water.  I drink 1 cup of a caffeinated beverage at breakfast time, tea or coffee (preferably organic).  Then I switch to plain water, which I pour into my 1 liter stainless steel bottle.  When it's empty, I refill it.

water bottle

Occasionally I will add a squidge (yes, it's a word!  I made it up, but it's still a word!  It's a mash up of wedge, and squish) or 2 or 3 of lemon or lime.  Sometimes even grapefruit or orange, or a mix of different fruits.  Depends what I have in the fruit bowl.  Lemons have been difficult to come by the past few weeks for some reason.  Citrus fruits are great flavourings for plain water, and will give you the extra benefit of the vitamin C, and other good things.  Per liter of water, you can use as much as the whole lemon if you like.  Half the lemon would be great though, if you don't like the tartness.  If you can't afford whole fruits (they can be pricey up here in Canada in winter time, and hard to get if there's a frost in Florida) you can get these awesome flavour packets called True Lemon.  Don't add sweeteners!  Just the fruit!  You can also use berries, cucumber, apples, pears, whatever fruits you have in the house at the time.  Each will have their own benefits.  For convenience, you can keep a jug of infused water in the fridge with the fruits.  The longer you leave it the more intense the flavour, without all the additives and preservatives of store bought "fruit" juices or junky pop.

If you're an active person there's no need to buy those garbage sport drinks if you need to replenish electrolytes after a hard game of keep away with the dog, just mix 1 litre of water with the juice of 1 whole lemon, (keep the whole lemon in the water!) 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of magnesium citrate.  You can also add about 1/4 tsp of organic cane sugar to this, the lemon and the salt may make it just too unpalatable for most people to choke down ;)  I quite like it without the sugar though.

You may be wondering "hey, Reba, why not bottled water?  Wouldn't that be healthier?" and that's when I shake my head at you and say tsk tsk tsk...No, bottled water isn't any healthier for you than what comes out of your tap.  In a lot of cases, it's the exact same dang thing at a bazzillion times the cost!  Yes, you read that right, bazzillion!  When you consider the cost of something, don't just think of the dent it puts in your wallet.  Think of the whole product from cradle to grave.  Where'd the water come from?  Where'd the bottle come from?  Why am I paying $5 for a half liter of filtered tap water?  All very good questions, and the answers are far too long and political for this particular blog post.  Suffice to say that unless your municipality has shut off your water because there are zombies rotting in the treatment plant, save your money and the planet, drink tap water!  Yes, spring water may sound better too, but it's not really.  Unless you go to the spring yourself and collect the water in reusable water containers, it's a waste of money to buy bottled water, and just contributes far too much litter and to landfill to be sustainable for much longer.  Not to mention the damage caused to the environment just to make the plastic for the bottles...ugh...don't get me going!

So here's the biology lesson.  If your urine is pale yellow, almost clear, you are well enough hydrated, keep it up!  If it's totally clear, you don't need anymore water today, there is such a thing as drinking too much water!  If your urine is dark yellow, amber, or horror and nightmares! almost brown, you are seriously seriously dehydrated, and you need to rehydrate STAT!  First thing in the morning your urine will be darker naturally because it's been sitting in your bladder for a few hours, but if after a day out in the sun playing and your urine is dark, you need to drink lots of fluids (use the recipe above for electrolytes) and you need to remember to drink water all day every day, not just when you feel thirsty.

But what about all those other lovely drinks you used to drink when you were SAD?  They're ok on occasion, (less than once a month maybe) but you'll probably find after a few days or weeks of drinking just plain water that you don't even like pop or juice anymore, the sweet assault will possibly even make you gag.  A glass of wine or other adult beverage is ok too now and then, once or twice a week.  Just remember to stay well hydrated all the time, so the dehydrating affect of the alcohol is not as severe.  And moderation with alcohol is the key!  I'm sure you've read all those articles that say one or two beverages a day is ok, but that doesn't mean you can save up for the week and drink 8 on Saturday night and still be at your allowed quota!  It doesn't work that way, sorry.

I hope this has been helpful, and I hope you enjoy your summer, fueled with cool, clear, refreshing water!

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