I recently taught my kids a catchy catch phrase about drinking water that I heard from a former P.E. teacher:
“The best solution for pollution is dilution.”
They love saying this. And I admit, I find myself silently chanting it every now and then. After a late-night cheese-dip binge. A particularly rough weekend. Seriously, it’s a handy little reminder, and it really does make me feel better (the water, yes, but also the thought of cleansing away the impurities…along with the shame). Plus with the kids, I think the idea of “pollution,” conjuring up images of filthy, plastic-ridden water or toxic gas swirling around their insides, helps to get their attention.
It’s pretty powerful stuff, water. It’s good for the skin, cleanses the body, helps fight fatigue and boosts energy. But we know this. And we know we’re supposed to drink it, like all the time. So why is it that so many of us don’t? Is it really that bland, boring? Or does the daunting “eight-8-ounce-glasses-a-day” recommendation have us quitting before we even start?
It seems there’s a lot of confusion around this “8 by 8” rule. The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of total beverages per day for the average healthy man living in a temperate climate, and 9 cups for the woman. As it turns out, you don’t have to ingest an entire pitcher of water to get your eight glasses. You can eat it! That’s right, fresh fruits and veggies (watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, broccoli, the list goes on) can give us 20 percent of our daily dose. Other drinks like milk, coffee and tea count in the total tally, too, though some artificial drinks like soda have chemicals that make us release water, in some cases releasing more water than was in the drink in the first place.
What about sparkling water? That’s a biggie in my house, so I checked that one out, too. Though it’s not considered “pure,” most experts say it’s just as hydrating and has no real health drawbacks (as rumored), but to steer clear of the ones with added sodium and sugar (like the flavored varieties, tonic water and some club sodas). It’s also a great way to wean off sugar-laden or diet sodas.
Truth is, we can probably convince ourselves to enjoy a non-sugary, non-caffeiney drink a little more often, but getting kids to take in enough of the pure stuff is another story, especially if their diet is already lacking in fruits and/or veggies. But there are a few good places to start:
• First, cut back on the more popular poisons like juice and sports drinks (gradually diluting them), and soda (try replacing with sparkling water). Expect some push back, but hold steady and your child, too, will adjust to the taste.
• Make water the most accessible drink in the house — keep a pitcher on the counter at all times (throw in some lemon, lime, orange or mint), or have cups handy if you get water from the fridge.
• Keep an aluminum bottle filled with water in the car. You’ll be surprised how often kids will drink it when you’re sitting in traffic, and it’s all you’re serving.