I don’t think I have ever seen hydration as an important part of my life. It was always something I did when something was stuck in my throat, I had hiccups or I needed an excuse from doing my homework (no really. I wasn’t a very creative child).
It never occurred to me that water was an essential part of my well being. Combine that with dirty washrooms in schools and hostels, a severely neglected public washroom situation in India at the time and my water intake was close to half a litre a day. I think I started paying attention to hydration only in my mid thrities.
Needless to say, I was a teen with bad skin, oral hygiene problems and very high bladder control. I could go a whole day – 20 hours, without a bio break. Obviously now I know it was nothing to be proud of but not back then. It wasn’t until I had children and realized how important it was for them to stay hydrated that I learnt to listen to my own body.
One of the kids was playing doctor with me and as he was doing his routine checks he suddenly looked at me and said ‘Amma, your tongue is white, do you know whitish on the tongue means you could be ill.’ It was the first time I looked at my own water intake as lacking. So off we went the kids and I to help me drink more water. Do you know that best way to make habit changes is to tell your kids about it – they will never let you forget.
Couple of things I had to work out before I improved my water intake –
- I did not like the taste of plain water
- I did not feel thirst as much, so I needed visual reminders
On day 1 I pulled out a glass and filled it with water, put in some basil and reminders on my phone for every half hour. Everytime the kids saw me they asked me if I had water because I told them to. The little one even brought me the bottle a couple of times when I was in another room. Children are amazing at adopting new habits and changes.
I used lemon wedges, basil and mint on alternate days to infuse the water so I could drink more. The glass being full was a constant reminder that I needed to a drink of water. I maintained a tracker, for a month, to see what changes I could feel by the sheer change in water intake.
Here are some of the things I recorded –
- Much healthier oral hygiene, my whole mouth felt nicer and smelled better
- Marked improvement in skin – overall not just face. I had always had skin issues but now my skin started to look healthier and softer.
- I was in a much better mood – I was less short with the children, could work without feeling overwhelmed or annoyed at every little thing. It was immensely different. My body in my twenties could still function without water but after birthing two kids and once aging had set in hydration was very important.
- I felt thirsty – after going through life for the most part without feeling thirsty regularly now I had conditioned myself to feel thirsty every half hour to one hour merely by drinking water in those periods. So no I didn’t need the reminders, my body knew when it needed water. This took a little over two weeks for the feeling of thirst to establish.
- I didn’t crave sugars – I have never been a sweet carving person but lately I found myself craving sweet, drinking water regularly seems to have improved that. I couldn’t explain how scientifically but somehow it did.
It’s been two months and overall my hydration has been life changing although there are still days I slip and drink less than 7-8 glasses of water I’m sure its more than the 3 – 4 I was drinking earlier. In addition I also have 2 cups of tea (with very little milk), lots of curd / yoghurt and most of my meals include lots of water.
Some more ideas to get started on a hydration journey –
- You can drink fennel / cumin / or carrom seed infused water – usually done by boiling water with these seeds, cooling, straining and drinking.
- If you are a caregiver (parent or elderly care) it’s harder to make time for yourself so put reminders on your phone, Stick a post it where you will see it. Keep bottles around the house (although I found this counter intuitive).
- Keep a small bottle of water in your bag when you go out, for yourself in addition to your kids.
- When hungry first reach for the water. Thirst seems like hunger to us dehydrated sorts.
- To know it needs water it seems our body needs to understand how it feels to have water, be hydrated.
Why am I writing this? I actually did google lots of things about hydration before I started my planned water intake. Its funny how our mind looks for proof or confirmation for everything these days. Well, here’s hoping I keep this up and actually manage to stay hydrated once we all get out of our homes beyond this pandemic.