My older daughter Cypress had to be taken to the emergency room last year with severe neck pain and a host of other symptoms. She was just over 5 at the time. Luckily, it turned out to be just a scare and basically “nothing”, however the doctor told me that her symptoms could have been caused in part by dehydration. I was shocked by this……I thought to myself “I’m a good mom”, I send her to school everyday with a full water bottle, I always have water with me, how could this be? But as my initial defensiveness subsided and I began to review the previous few weeks in my head, I realized there were many days that the water bottle I packed for school came back home full and that although I offered water throughout the day there really was no guarantee that she was drinking enough. So, I did what any parent would do and began monitoring her water intake much more closely and really tried to encourage her to drink more, explaining in layman’s terms why water is so important for our bodies. Her water intake definitely improved but I was still feeling like she wasn’t drinking enough.
I decided that I needed to get more creative and tried a range of things. I don’t generally allow juice, however I found if I put a small splash of some sort of organic juice (apple, blueberry, grape) in her water, she did tend to drink more. I also discovered that she liked tea and in the morning and evening began making various teas like hibiscus, berry and mint, sweetened with just a tiny drop of stevia. However, one of my favorite ways that I began to “sneak” water into her was by packing a lunch full of hydrating foods. Hydrating through foods has been a change that has stuck for our entire family, becoming a healthy habit that I no longer need to try to remember to do.
Her lunch today included half of a turkey sandwich, along with a side of fruits and veggies that all toll added up to more than 1 cup of water!
It’s a fact, eating foods, such as cucumbers or strawberries, contribute to your overall fluid intake and help you stay hydrated. And, there are so many water-packed foods that I can constantly rotate to keep lunch interesting. What’s more, her lunches are filled with a lot more nutrition. There’s Vitamin C in everything pictured, not to mention the lycopene in watermelon and peppers, fiber in cucumbers, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene and folic acid in red pepper and my favorite….celery, which contains the highest percent of water along with the longest list of nutrients, including vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids.
And, if extra hydration and nutrition isn’t enough to convince you, adults may be interested to learn that research shows that eating foods that are full of water will also help keep you satisfied on fewer calories.
Here’s a table of some of my lunchbox favorites, including water content percent and some of the added nutritional benefits of each food:
And for those of you that need even more evidence in order to start integrating hydrating foods into your diet, I will leave you with this……A 2009 study at the University of Aberdeen Medical School found that the combination of salts, minerals and natural sugars in some fruits and vegetables can actually hydrate people more effectively than water or even sports drinks. Watermelon was on top of the list, thanks to its 92 percent water content and essential rehydration salts calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.