There’s a good chance that you’re dehydrated. How do I know that? Because it’s been estimated that somewhere around 70-75% of American Adults are living with chronic mild dehydration. You might think, “Naw, I’m not dehydrated!” But would you even know? The problem with chronic mild dehydration is that our bodies learn to survive in that state, and it can take up to two weeks of consistent proper hydration before your body starts to actually feel all the positive affects — both physical and mental.
That’s right, buddy. Dehydration actually impacts you mentally before it starts to impact you physically. Just a 1-5% deficit in your hydration results in a measurable cognitive loss. Feeling foggy? Afternoon slump? Trouble concentrating? Not feeling creative? Lacking motivation? Feeling stuck? No energy? All of these are potential side effects of dehydration. Here’s my promise to you: once you successfully go two weeks hydrated, and you start to feel your brain wake up and function on all cylinders, you won’t even need this list anymore because you’ll never consider going back to that dehydrated life. Promise! So, what is it that keeps you from drinking a little water throughout the day? Let’s look at some common complaints and potential solutions:
- I don’t like the taste of water. Did you know that dehydration can cause bad breath? It might not be the taste of water you dislike…it might literally be the taste of your own mouth. Water should be quite flavorless, so if you fall into this camp look no further than your dehydrated saliva. Power through, knowing that within a day or two the water (ahem, your mouth) might taste better…or try infusing your water with fruit or herbs. Are you confident that it’s not that? Then consider the other beverages you drink. Are they high in sugar or artificial flavor? If so, of course water is going to taste boring or maybe even a little weird, but it might be all in your head and not so much your tastebuds (check out the book The Dorito Effect for more about how artificial flavorings are impacting our brains and bodies).
- It makes me have to pee all the time/feel bloated. Indeed! If we’re hydrated we pee more…and that’s a good and vital function of our body. A healthy, hydrated adult should urinate every 2-3 hours with a steady stream for 15-25 seconds. So….are you peeing too much or a healthy amount? Fortunately, if you are peeing way more than necessary or just getting the “urge” more than you think you should, your body will help you out once it gets the gist and starts to regulate. As you start to hydrate your body will begin to produce more ADH (antidiuretic hormone) as it gets used to your body’s new hydration level. Just think about nighttime — our body produces ADH while we sleep so that we don’t have to pee during the night. Give it a week or two, and your body will work itself out. (babies and old people tend to produce less ADH. Everything makes so much sense now, doesn’t it?). If drinking water makes you feel bloated, remember this: it’s better to sip water consistently throughout the day, rather than chug it. Dehydration is what can actually cause bloating and fluid retention, so chances are you will feel less bloated once your body is properly hydrated. If you continue to struggle with frequent urination it could be a kidney issue OR anxiety. Anxiety causes muscle tension, which can put pressure on the bladder and even a subtle but sustained pressure can give you a sense of needing to urinate.
- It’s too hard for me to drink water at work. This one is hard for me because it’s so infuriating that our workplaces aren’t more supportive of basic health needs. That said, some of us have to step into 8-hour surgeries or 3-hour lectures and I know that a bathroom break isn’t always possible. The good news: you can front-load your hydration (drink more in the morning or at night) and you can try some other tricks to make the water your consume more absorbable by your body, so that it soaks in at a cellular level and is more long-lasting, rather than passing through quickly. Tips: try drinking warm lemon water with sea salt when you first wake up, add a green juice or smoothie to your morning routine (the water inside plants is extra-hydrating!), keep a water bottle accessible at your desk, in your locker, or wherever might be convenient for sneaking sips during the day, and perhaps try adding a tsp of ground chia seeds to an afternoon juice or glass of water, which helps hold that moisture in your system longer.
- I’m not thirsty. Are ya sure about that? Remember when I said that dehydration impacts you mentally before it gives you signs physically? The physical feeling that we associate with “thirst” is actually a really poor indicator of our body’s need for water and is far down on the list of symptoms you’ll feel when your body is in need of hydration. The first signs are almost all mental —- back to that list at the top, folks: brain fog, sleepiness, mental lag, afternoon slump. Basically, not feeling like your sharpest, smartest self is the first sign that you need water, but more than that —- our bodies get used to living with chronic mild dehydration. Once you are properly hydrating you’ll likely find that your body is more in tune with its needs and it will signal you to hydrate more often than it did before.
- I never remember! Duh! New habits are always a challenge. One of the easiest ways to get yourself to drink more water is to make sure it’s always available. Find a bottle or glass that you like (here’s a link to my favorite one on Amazon) and keep it with you all the time. Put it next to your bed at night. Carry it with you around the house. Bring it in the car. Take it to meetings. If the water is there, you are way more likely to sip it consistently. The water bottle becomes that physical, visual reminder that we all need so find one that you love. If you feel like you need even more help making water part of your routine, try my absolute favorite life hack: Habit Stacking. Never heard of it, click here to learn more about it from me or pick up the book Atomic Habits.
There ya have it! 5 common excuses I hear for not drinking more water, and potential solutions to help you get on your way to Hydration Station. Want my free Weekly Water Tracker? Click below, or head over to my Etsy Shop to see my other products (and take 10% off your order with code HONEY at checkout).
Don’t forget: consuming water is only part of being truly hydrated. Food also plays a vital role. Want to learn more about this? Check out my online course The Hydration Checklist.