How I Drink Enough Fluids
You've probably heard the advice "drink water" before. It's sensible. Sometimes, I feel cranky, irritable, and hungry when I'm actually just dehydrated. To prevent dehydration, I make sure to get enough fluids. Many fruits and vegetables are very high in water content, so you can eat fluids, but this post will be about how I drink enough fluids.
I hate that health advice can be contradictory and confusing (diet fads are the worst), but the advice regarding fluids is remarkably consistent between difference sources:
- Drink enough fluids.
- Avoid too much sugar water.
- Avoid too much alcohol.
Note that I do not use any numerical metrics to describe this advice. Aiming for "half of your body weight in ounces" or fluid intake or "less than 20 grams of added sugar" a day might be useful for some people, but since I had an eating disorder, orthorexia, and I was obsessed with healthy eating, I do not track my intake of food or fluids with numbers. I do not want arbitrary numbers to dictate my life and my behavior. "Enough fluids" is very person dependent. A bit TMI, but my rule of thumb is that you are hydrated when your pee is light yellow.
You should follow this advice regarding fluids because it is good for your health, both physical and mental. Dehydration feels bad, and noticing dehydration is difficult. When I was going through a depressive episode earlier this year, I felt physically ill - my stomach felt queasy and I lost my appetite. However, I aggressively prioritized my physical health, "forced" myself to drink enough fluids, and felt a lot better.
In the next section, I present my opinions on various categories of beverages sorted by how much I enjoy them. I do not include fancy beverages, which are basically liquid food, such as smoothies or pureed soups.
Beverages I Like a Lot
Water - You can find a lot of fancy advice on how to drink more water, how to track your water intake, how to enjoy plain water, etc. I think drinking water is like exercising in the sense that it doesn't really matter what your process is - just do it! All you need to do is be mindful about your water intake. I do so by always carrying around a water bottle. Nothing fancy, just a boring 16 ounce plastic Nalgene ($12 - the cost of a lunch in San Francisco).
Soup - You might have heard that soup is good when you're sick. I like broth (soup without stuff in it). Homemade broth is delicious, but a lot of work, so I keep around Reduced Sodium Better than Bouillon when I want broth in a pinch. It's store-bought broth without the water, so it's cheap, easy to transport, and keeps well. "Recipe" for broth is just dissolve in a mug with hot water.
Tea - I like unsweetened herbal teas that aren't fruity-tart and sound like dessert (i.e. cinnamon apple rooibos, sugar cookie sleigh-ride, sleepy time vanilla). Legit actual tea from the Camellia sinensis plant (green, oolong, black) is good too, but I'm sensitive to caffeine and can't have these past noon or so. If you're interested in fancy loose leaf tea, actual tea plants, and tea tasting, I'd highly recommend going to Song Tea in SF Japantown - they do a fancy tea tasting for $10, and it's a wonderful experience.
Milk, fake milk - Milk describes the white, creamy liquid that comes from mammal moms. It's mostly from cows, sometimes from sheep or goats, and sometimes even from humans. I should avoid lactose, so my favorite real milk is lactose free whole milk. Fake milk is vegan and describes the white, creamy liquid that companies generate from plants. For example, you might have seen soy milk on the shelves. There's also nut milks (almond, macadamia, cashew), rice milk, hemp milk, etc. I used to be more into fake milk when I had an ED (it's lower in calories!), but it's also chalkier and not that flavorful. Depending on your resources, you can make your own milk or fake milk, but it's a lot of work.
Coffee - I'm not sure how I feel about coffee. I used to like coffee, or I think I liked it. Media influences (people saying how to loooveeeee coffee) likely caused this confusion. I enjoy the flavor of coffee, but the execution (i.e. espressos) is often too strong for my taste, so I like to dilute my coffee until it's the strength of tea. Since I'm caffeine-sensitive, most of the time, I prefer decaf herbal tea for a sweet-ish, hot beverage.
Sugar water - Sugar water describes sweetened drinks that primarily consist of water and sugar. There are many forms of added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup. I used to avoid all sugar water (isn't it bad for you?), but I've found that sugar water is good for several use-cases. In general, sugar water provides a quick source of energy, and it makes me feel better after I donate blood or exercise lots. I find coconut water and Emergen C fairly tasty. I'm meh about juice (apple > orange, cranberry), but they make you drink it at blood donations.
Fizzy drinks - Soda is fizzy flavored sugar water. You get soda from plain water by adding high fructose corn syrup, flavoring, and carbonation. I've never been that fond of soda - it's too sweet and too many bubbles hurt my mouth. If you're trying to wean off soda, you might like La Croix, which is fizzy flavored water without sugar. Again, the carbonation with La Croix kinda hurts my mouth, but I drink it sometimes when I feel bored and nippy.
Beverages I Dislike
I have sipped the following beverages, and I don't particularly want to sip them again.
Kombucha - This is a popular fad lately. What does kombucha taste like? It is sour, fermented, and slightly fizzy - I found it very unpalatable.
Alcohol - Most common types are beer and wine. I don't find them palatable. There's also mixed drinks, but I don't like very sweet things. Alcohol is often served at large social gatherings late at night, such as at bar or raucous parties. I am an introverted early bird, so I tend to avoid these occasions anyways. I enjoy thinking clearly, and I don't particularly want to feel drunk or hungover.
I refuse to spend my money on these beverages.
False advertisement beverages - In general, I hate false, misleading, pseudo-scientific advertising. Deceiving people to sell products is absolutely awful. For example, some teas claim that they will help you "slim fast" to lose weight. There's a lot of "antioxidant", "detox", "organic gluten-free" mumbo-jumbo in the food industry as the whole, and I will not buy products that say such garbage.
You've probably already heard the basic advice in this post many many times before, but how do you plan to stick to your healthy habits? How are you going to drink enough fluids? All I do is carry around and refill a water bottle.