Here are some gradual steps I use to help my clients gradually improve their hydration health, depending on what health goals they are aiming for. We are all a bit different so some will be happy to address some health issues and leave others as is, or to stop half way through the list of improvements and be happy with that!
At the end of this page you will find some information about water, the environment and how you can make a difference to the future of water on this planet.
Some clients never drink water, because they don’t like the taste. There can be two questions to explore here. One is “Am I adequately hydrated?’, and the other is ‘What am I drinking instead of water and how is that affecting me?’
Yellow coloured urine in the mornings when we fist wake is fine, but if your urine is dark yellow (or even brown in some cases!) throughout the day or you aren’t urinating for many hours on end, then you probably aren’t drinking enough liquids. Other signs of chronic dehydration can include regular headaches, general aches and pains, fatigue, bad moods, constipation and more.
It’s important to listen to your body and tune into it’s more subtle thirst signals, but to also develop habits and routines that prevent dehydration in the first place. A lot of my older clients carry a water bottle with them wherever they go. This way they can monitor intake and respond instantly to thirst signals. So many of us get caught in our heads and ignore body signals. It’s good to discipline the body, but not to the extent that we tune out and fail to hear early warning signs that can eventually lead to bigger problems.
*Monitor fluid intake and Listen to your body. Do you have any idea how much you drink throughout the day? Or are you getting so caught up in the busyness of life that you don’t realise you forgot to water yourself when the thudding headache kicks in? A lot of my older clients carry a water bottle with them wherever they go. This way they can monitor intake and respond instantly to thirst signals. So many of us get caught in our heads and ignore body signals. It’s good to discipline the body, but not to the extent that we tune out and fail to hear early warning signs that can eventually lead to bigger problems.
*Wean yourself slowly off refined sugar drinks (e.g. soft drinks, cordial and fruit juices). These drinks should really be considered foods. They add calories far too easily and often replace healthy meals. They also stress and exhaust our sugar management systems (e.g. insulin/blood sugar), our kidneys, and our digestive systems. Refined sugar impairs the immune system and feeds inflammatory processes in the body. To reduce your dependance on these pseudo-foods gradually, take small steps:
If you drink three sugar drinks per day, start by cutting it down to two. Any improvement will benefit you! Gradually, you can cut it down to one, then one every other day, then weekends and/or special occasions only. The trick is to not store it in your home: it’s party food only. Things stop being special when you do them all the time.
With fruit juices and cordials, you can wean yourself gradually by watering them down a little. Do this slowly over time and you won’t even notice. The problem with sugar addiction is that you need more and more to get the same satisfaction, until you get to the point where you are sledgehammering yourself with refined sugar and it seems normal to you. If you want something sweet, have fruit or a blended smoothy with the fibre still intact: a lovely thick-shake recipe is a couple of peeled frozen bananas with a handful of soaked almonds and a few dates.
Alternate every other drink with water. Make it a rule! This technique works well with people who are consuming too much soft drink, fruit juice, cordial and/or alcohol.
*If you don’t like the taste of water… make it look and taste special by adding things like lemon juice, cut up strawberries, mint leaves and/or ice-cubes. You can also have a lot of fun experimenting with herbal teas, both hot and chilled as ‘iced-tea’. Avoid teas with artificial flavours added, and take care with your quantity of caffeinated and/or tannin-containing tea. Too much caffeine can affect serenity and stress levels, as well as appetite. Too much tea, especially when strong, black and taken with meals, can affect digestion and cause mineral imbalances. When I was studying herbal medicine in naturopathy, we were taught to store herbal teas in air-tight containers and/or in the fridge, especially if you live in hot/humid climates, because they can be prone to growing moulds. Throw the old stuff out!
*Improve the quality of your water. For some, this will mean setting up a rain-water tank, buying a filtering device, switching from town water to bore water, drinking room temperature instead of cold water and so on. This nectar of the Gods will most likely be a fought over commodity one day, so value it while you can! Think also about what you store your water in: glass is better than plastic. If you do use plastic water containers, be very careful not to let them get heated because this releases more plastic toxins into the water, and these plastics can have unwanted hormonal-like effects on the body.
*Drink between meals, not at meal times. Take care not to overwhelm your stomach by drinking too much water/liquids with your meals. While bitter tasting drinks like herbal teas can actually assist digestion, you still need to be careful with quantity. Too much liquid in a stomach that is trying to digest food can lead to indigestion and loss of appetite.
*Eat more raw food! Increase your intake of natural, high-water content foods like melons, cucumbers, lettuces, berries, capsicum etc. Yum!