What is even more important than sunscreen and eating healthy in the summer?
Answer: Staying hydrated.
Our bodies are made up of about 65% water, and in the summer we are constantly being depleted of it. On a hot summer day, it doesn't take long for dehydration to set in, and that can quickly become dangerous (even deadly).
Ironically, the summer is also a time when people are less likely to realize they are becoming dehydrated. We find ourselves frolicking on the beach or enjoying a day at the amusement park, and we totally forget about stopping to hydrate.
The image below is from an article by the Mayo Clinic, it has a lot of helpful information about determining how much water you should drink each day.
The best way to prevent yourself and family from suffering the harmful effects of dehydration is to plan ahead, especially if you will be away from your home.
Here's what I do when I'm planning a day at the beach with my kids...
After I pack the beach bag with towels and sunscreen, I pack a cooler filled with bottled water. Rather than using ice to keep the water cold, I freeze about half the waters the night before. The frozen waters keeps the unfrozen waters cool, and by the time we are out of unfrozen water the frozen ones are mostly thawed and ready to drink.
All fluids are not created equal. Drinking a soda, a coffee, or a beer isn't going to help keep you hydrated; it may even have the opposite effect. Although water is, by far, the best way to keep hydrated, it doesn't have to be plain or boring. There are some ways to make the water a little more palatable.
You've probably seen flavored waters in your supermarket, and if you don't like the taste of plain water, these are a nice alternative. But even better, try making your own "infused" water. It's easy, inexpensive, and looks beautiful.
Start by rinsing any fruits or herbs you plan on using thoroughly. Then cut the fruit into large slices or thin wedges. Any small berries or mint leaves can be left whole.
Place your chosen fruits into a pitcher of cold water. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
Here are a few ideas, but basically you can use any fruit you love, in any combination.
- Slices of lemon, limes, and oranges (alone or together).
- Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and sliced strawberries (alone or together).
- Slices of apples, pears, and lemon.
- Mint (alone or with other fruits).
- Any type of melon (make into balls or slices).
- In place of ice-cubes, try using frozen fruit.
When it comes to dehydration, children are at an even greater risk than we are. But "infused" water may not be enough to keep them interested. The best way to keep kids well hydrated is to make it fun for them. Here are a couple of ideas.
- Dilute all juices with 1/2 water.
- Make your own ice pops using diluted 100% fruit juice.
- Make your own snow cones. But instead of using plain ice and adding high-fructose syrups, make the ice using diluted 100% fruit juice.
- Since kids love a game, especially when a prize is involved. Try dropping a jello cube at the bottom of a glass of ice-water. Your kids will happily drink the water to get to the tasty prize at the bottom. Here is an article on how to make a rainbow jello cube.
Those are some of my ideas for keeping hydrated. Do you have any tips that you use to keep your family well hydrated in the summer?; If so, let us know in comments.
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com
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