Staying hydrated isn’t something that comes first to mind for many of us during the cooler months. But staying hydrated is an important part of staying healthy, regardless of the season.
“It’s really prevalent for people to think about hydration in the summer,” said Kaela Ketcham, a clinical dietitian with OSF HealthCare.
“In the wintertime, we aren’t sweating like we do in the summer. It’s not hot, and we aren’t doing as many outdoor activities. Those things make us thirsty, so we drink more. But as soon as colder weather hits, a lot of us stop thinking about it.”
Follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the recommended 64 ounces of water each day.
Drinks that dehydrate
When we’re thirsty during winter, we’re more likely to opt for a warm beverage, rather than water, but these drinks could be making us even more dehydrated by causing more frequent urination.
Jazz up your plain water
The beverages we are choosing to hydrate us matter. Beverages that contain little to no calories, such as Crystal Light, unsweetened iced tea and water, are where we want most of our hydration to come from.
Beverages that contain more calories, such as fruit juice, sweet tea and soda, may temporarily quench our thirst, but we will also be getting added sugars. These beverages can then lead to added weight if consumed too often.
If you enjoy warm beverages, choose sugar-free hot chocolate or tea bags to make hot tea instead of regular hot chocolate or chai tea mix. This will give you the warmth and hydration you are seeking without the extra sugar.
Also, alcoholic drinks can have a dehydrating effect, so if you drink alcohol, be sure to drink water as well.
Track your progress
Water bottles are an easy way to keep track of how much water you drink throughout the day.
Set a goal to finish four 16-ounce or two 32-ounce bottles each day, and give yourself a visual reminder. Set your bottles out on the counter where you’ll see them or use rubber bands to count how many times you’ve refilled throughout the day.
“There’s a lot of ways you can keep track of how much you’re drinking. You have to find what works for you,” Kaela said.
A lot of us carry a water bottle in the summer time to stay hydrated but don’t keep it up year round. Keep a water bottle on hand or in your purse to stay on track toward drinking enough fluids.
Signs of dehydration
Being thirsty or having dark colored urine are common signs of dehydration. Urine should be a pale yellow color, similar to lemonade.
“If it’s any darker, you’ll want to start sipping some more water,” Kaela said.
If you become more dehydrated, you could start to feel dizzy, fatigued or even confused. Older people and those who have certain medical conditions could be at even higher risk.
“Our body can ‘trick us’ into thinking we are hungry when we are actually just thirsty. It’s important to stay hydrated to help maintain a healthy weight or help with weight loss,” Kaela said.
Learn more about the weight loss options available through the OSF Weight Management Center.