Staying Hydrated & Healthy

By Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

Summer’s hottest months are upon us, and with the heat and humidity comes the risk of dehydration. It’s easy to get dehydrated in these summer months, especially since everyone is so busy with tons of outdoor activities. Compounding the risk for dehydration is the fact that people often don’t recognize the symptoms and don’t treat it early enough. However, with a few tips on how to get enough fluids into your diet, along with ways to identify the symptoms of dehydration, you can make sure you and your family stays hydrated and healthy all summer long.

How to Hydrate Healthfully

  • First, carry a water bottle around with you each day. Just having one with you at all times will increase the likelihood that you’ll actually take in more water throughout the day.
  • To help banish boredom with plain water, try adding in some slices of fruit. Slices of cucumber, berries, and mint leaves make a tasty, refreshing water without adding many calories.
  • Avoid overdoing it with caffeinated beverages. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes you to urinate more and lose fluids faster.
  • Hydrate through food – snack on water-dense fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Water from food counts towards your daily fluid intake. Examples include watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, peaches, pears, apples, berries, bell peppers, summer squash, and tomatoes.
  • Avoid sugar-laden beverages. These can hydrate you, but they are loaded with empty calories from sugar, which wreaks havoc on your teeth, your energy level (your energy level may spike initially but then drop drastically), and your waistline.
  • Try incorporating fruit smoothies into your diet. Combine plain, nonfat yogurt with any of your favorite fruits (even some veggies like spinach, kale, or cooked sweet potato work well), a little milk or 100% fruit juice, and some ice cubes in a blender and voila! You have a nutrient-packed snack to keep you cool and hydrated.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Increased thirst
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Dry mouth or tongue swelling
  • Heart palpitations
  • Decreased sweating
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Decrease in urine output

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of dehydration and avoid getting to that point by staying hydrated with plenty of fluids, including those found in fruits and vegetables.

During August, as children are getting ready to return to school, Operation Food Search is gearing up its Operation Backpack program to provide enough food for the weekend to food insecure children so they can have their nutrition requirements fulfilled and uninterrupted.

Please help children start their school week refreshed and with focus for academics rather than hunger by supporting Operation Backpack – www.OperationFoodSearch.org.

Another way to help Operation Food Search now through the end of August is to share your weekends with SUBWAY® during its “You Share. We Share.” campaign when 245 locally owned and operated SUBWAY® restaurants will share right back by donating a portion of their sales to Operation Food Search.