My daughter suggested I write a column about hydration. Great idea, since a road trip through drought-stricken New Mexico and Arizona was on the horizon. No worries. We remembered to pack plenty of bottled water in the ice chest.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, we need water every day of our lives. When water stores are low, our bodies overheat, moods worsen and we are more susceptible to constipation and kidney stones. Not a great combination for enjoyable vacations.
How do we meet our water needs when the temperature hits 95 to 99 degrees in the desert? It helps to remember that up to 60 percent of our body weight is water. And we lose water daily through breathing, sweat and normal body processes. Here are some rules to remember as we venture out for summer travel:
Choose plain water instead of a soda. We’ll save 150 unneeded sugar calories for every 12 ounces of just plain ol’ water we ingest in place of a sugar-sweetened beverage. Pure water is a better thirst quencher as well.
Let thirst be your guide (generally). Although current recommendations tell us to drink when we are thirsty, we need to learn to identify true thirst. It can be easy to confuse thirst for hunger. Good practice? Have plain water on hand throughout the day. Frequent sips of fluid can often quell what we may otherwise have thought was hunger. Also remember that if we wait until we are very thirsty to drink fluids, we are probably already dehydrated.
Choose foods high in water content. They are generally lower in calories and often offer more nutrition as well. Water naturally present in food also contributes to our daily water quota, say experts.
Here are some examples: Compared to 100 percent plain water, milk, melons, strawberries, lettuce, cabbage and spinach are between 90 to 99 percent water. Fruit juice, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, pears and pineapple contain 80 to 89 percent water.
And 70 to 79 percent of the weight of bananas, avocados, and cottage cheese is pure water.
Caffeinated beverages count. Yay! My morning coffee and iced tea when we stop for lunch contributes to my daily water goals, say experts. Alcohol? Sorry, no. When you hit the country western dance hall in Albuquerque, try a club soda with lemon instead of beer. It saves money, calories and a lot of grief on the drive home.
We did OK on this particular trip. Sipped on water as we drove through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Had fresh fruit or juice along with coffee most mornings. And remembered to order salads and vegetables (high water content foods) with meals. I wonder what the water content is for green chile?
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.