Let’s face it: when it’s chilly outside, the last thing you want to do it reach over to your cold water bottle and drink eight ounces of life-giving water. In the winter, the air gets drier and heaters only dry out indoor air even further. Combined with that, because it’s colder, we don’t sweat as much and so are less apt to notice if we are becoming dehydrated. No matter the temperature outside, dehydration can cause muscle fatigue, exhaustion, cramps and dizziness, and can make you more susceptible to winter colds and the flu. Drinking water bolsters your immune system and lets your body run at full capacity.
The old rule of thumb was to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This was set in place primarily because it’s easy to remember: 8 x 8, water is great! According to the Mayo Clinic, an adequate intake for men is closer to 13 cups of water, while for women it’s only nine. This number increases when you add exercise (two more cups), weather (hot or cold), and/or illness.
Unfortunately, cold weather in winter makes it tough to want to hydrate, even though this is the time of year we need it most. (Just ask your dry skin and chapped lips!) Try some of our tips to stay hydrated and healthy this winter.
1. Make It a Goal
Consciously decide you want to drink more water, and you can create a healthy habit. Invite your family and friends to join you—you could even turn it into a competition. Make a schedule—you could even write it out directly on your water bottle. There are many apps that can help you track your water intake, like Waterlogged or Water Your Body for Android. Try to replace every soda you might have with a glass of water, and see how you feel after a week.
2. Drink Tea
Tea is a great way to drink more water. The hot water is inviting on a chilly day, and gentle tea flavor can be invigorating. Plus all those other great benefits of tea. Studies show that having one cup of green tea a day can greatly increase your immune system function. You could even experiment with herbal teas—mixing up your own “tea” (it’s not real tea without tea leaves) with fresh or frozen fruit, or some slices of ginger root for added health benefits!
3. Keep It Nearby and Visible
You’re much more likely to drink water from your stainless steel or BPA free water bottle than walking all the way across the building to the water fountain. Don’t give yourself any excuses. Keep water at your desk, in your bag, or even better, right in front of you!
4. Drink Almond, Soy, Coconut or Other Non-Dairy Milks
Non-dairy milks are made of ground meal from almonds, coconut meat, hemp seeds or soybeans, which is then infused with water and strained. Almonds, soy, coconut and hemp all have great nutritional benefits on their own, so a glass of one of these milks will give you a vitamin boost without filling you up with protein and fats like dairy milk does. You can also learn to make your own almond milk.
Bonus: Hot almond milk with cinnamon and honey? Delicious.
5. Just Drink Water: Before and After Meals
More than anything else, drinking water before and after a meal can give you some structure to your drinking schedule. You may not realize you haven’t had anything to drink all morning until lunchtime rolls around. If you make it a point to drink 16 to 32 ounces of water at lunchtime, you'll be two to four cups closer to your goal! This is also one method for healthy weight loss, as you may find you eat less. Warmer water, even just at room temperature, can greatly aid your digestion as well. According to Livestrong, cold beverages are removed from the stomach much more quickly than warm drinks, thus not doing much for your system.
Coconut water (different from coconut milk) falls under a slightly different category. This is the liquid taken directly from a young (green) coconut. This is also a great hydrating beverage—often praised as a good substitute for Gatorade or other sugary post-sport drinks. It is hydrating, thirst quenching and full of natural electrolytes.
6. Eat Spicy Foods
You can “trick” yourself into drinking more water by adding some red pepper flakes to your meal, giving a simple dish a kick of spice. That spice will have you reaching for a glass of water in no time!
7. Serve Soups
Nothing quite erases the chill of a cold day like a cup of hot soup. This hydration trick can have you drinking more water while you’re eating your lunch—two birds with one stone! Soups with clear broth, particularly, have a high water content that will help replenish your water reserves. You can find some great soup recipes on our Soups & Stews collection page.
8. Flavor Your Water
This trick will work in the winter or summer, and can be changed to suit the season. Make your water look fun and interesting, while adding a touch of fruity flavor with fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, watermelon or cucumber—any sort of fruit will work! Toss in some cranberries, figs, pomegranate, rosemary or mint leaves for a real holiday slurp. You could even try infusing a cinnamon stick if you like drinks with a spicy kick. Infuse basil and cucumber for a refreshing herbal concoction. It’s hard to go wrong, so try a few of your own recipes with fruit and herbs that you have around the kitchen.
You could also add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and one tablespoon of honey to your water, for an alkali boost that aids your digestion. Turmeric and a dash of pepper make a great, semi-sweet anti-inflammatory combination for your water. You could also add a splash of your favorite juice to a glass of water to add light flavor without all the sugar (added or not).
9. Snack on Water-Based Foods
Watermelon may not be in season, but there are many other fruits and vegetables that have a high percentage of water. Eating your water also has the added benefit of giving you other much needed nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. Try clementines, celery, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, spinach, citrus fruits, pears, pomegranates and winter squash (aka spaghetti squash) for a tasty, hydrating treat.
10. Hydrate Your Skin, Too
Your skin is the barrier between you and the elements. As air dries in the winter, your skin takes a hit (chapped lips, anyone?). When your skin is dry, microscopic cracks appear, making it easier for germs and viruses to invade and get you sick. These fluctuating conditions also make it hard to retain elasticity and thus leads to more wrinkles. Invest in a humidifier if you live in a particularly dry climate. Put on lotion or homemade body butter to seal in the moisture and give you skin a real pampering treat.
11. Avoid Sodium
Sodium retains water, effectively trapping it and making it inaccessible to the rest of your body. Sodium is not just table salt. A spoonful of table salt in a home-cooked meal is less than 100 milligrams of sodium, while an 8-ounce bag of potato chips can have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium—that’s almost half of your daily recommendation! To lower sodium intake, avoid processed foods and foods with many additives to limit the dehydrating impact of sodium.
Do you have any tips on how to stay hydrated this winter? What are your favorite flavored waters or water alternatives? Share your best tips below!
Taylor Nutting is an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living who loves to find new ways (especially if it involves cooking!) to live a healthy and happy life.