As soon as you finish reading this sentence, walk into the kitchen, pour yourself a cold glass of water, throw in a couple ice cubes if you like, and drink the entire thing.
Feels good, huh? Didn’t taste like much, did it? You’re in luck: it doesn’t have to. Drinking is meant for hydration. Throughout evolution, people have used their TEETH when consuming calories, with the exception of babies. Drinking is for providing your body with the basic ingredient in sweat (which keeps you cool so you look more dignified than a panting dog): water. We drink lots of other liquids now that refrigeration, fermentation, bottling, transportation, and chemistry have allowed us to create innumerable combinations of flavor, viscosity, and carbonation. Maybe it’s time to realize that those recreational sips are intended for sparing use, so we have enough drinking time left to take in the water that we really need.
Indications you may not drink enough water:
You drink pop for dinner.
You’ve used the phrase, “It has water IN it” in the past six months, in jest or seriously.
You drink gatorade or “energy” drinks when you’re NOT exercising.
You only pee three times a day.
My (not medically or scientifically licensed) suggestions for drinking more water:
Drink ONLY water at meals
You want a glass of wine? Drink it later. You think you need 35 ounces of Diet Coke to wash down your food? Ask yourself if you’re still in need of something sugary (caloric or not) after you’re already full of food. Water is fantastic as a complement to every dish, and won’t take away from the flavors of the food you should really be cooking yourself as much as possible. (Also, it’s free—see below.)
Eat spicy food
Not only is capsacin (the molecule that makes things spicy) reportedly good for you and possibly even anti-carcinogenic, but it makes you thirsty. Unlike milk, water won’t relieve the burn very well, so don’t overdo it on the cayenne pepper, but a glass of cold H2O will feel nice to your simmering taste buds.
Bring a water bottle to work
Sounds lame, doesn’t it? What you SHOULD be thinking right now is how grateful you are that water in the United States is free. Any German who comes across this article knows how hard it is to come by free fresh water—German cities have hundreds of beautiful fountains, but none of them are drinking fountains. So take advantage of that before businesses realize that our most wonderful natural resource is actually worth a lot of money.
If you’re hungry, drink some water!
The brain is an amazing organ. However, occasionally it uses overlapping signals and assumes they will be interpreted correctly downstream. This can be the case with the sensation of being hungry or thirsty. Sometimes, when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty! Science is incredible, right? So if you think you’re hungry, down a few ounces of water (can’t hurt either way) and wait five minutes to see if you’re still hungry. That’s what I call two birds with one stone, my friend!
My personal goals regarding water consumption:
Stay hydrated enough that when someone asks me how life is proceeding, I can say, “Just tryin’ to keep my pee clear.” And then do it!
Drink enough water while exercising to replace what I sweat out. This is a bonus goal because it has the word “exercise” in it!
If I hit the bar with friends, drink a glass of water for every adult beverage I consume (alcohol has a dehydrating effect, as you’ve no doubt noticed if you’re over the legal drinking age in your country of residence).
OK, maybe this post is going a bit overboard on being appreciative of water. We need it, one day our kids and grandkids won’t have enough of it, and it’s darn useful in many science applications. But there’s one other thing I should have probably mentioned upfront, without which we would be suffering no matter how much water we drink: