It’s the time of year when many of us resolve to change our habits by living a little healthier and pledging to drink more water is an easy place to start. It’s also one of the most vital. Did you know that by the time your brain registers that you’re thirsty, your body has already been dehydrated for at least an hour? That could be even longer for children who are less practised at recognising the signs.
Our bodies are about 60% water and the average 4-8 year-old needs about 1.3 litres a day to function at their best, rising to around 1.5 litres for 9-13 year-olds and 2 litres for adolescents and adults. Go and get a measuring jug now, turn on the tap and fill the jug then decant it into glasses – it might be more than you think!
Water works best
Milk, tea, coffee and unsweetened fruit juice can all go towards your daily quota but you should aim to make good old tap water your main source of fluids. Try switching some of your daily cups of tea or coffee for herbal tea to reduce caffeine intake. Also, limit – or water down – unsweetened fruit juice to one glass a day (even unsweetened fruit juice contains natural sugar as well as citric acid which can contribute to tooth decay).
Do your kids down more than a glass of fruit juice each day but only tend to sip at plain water? Try them on fruit infused water instead. It tastes delicious, looks appealing and takes seconds to put together from ingredients you’re already likely to have in the house. It also cuts down on both excess packaging and added spending during your weekly food shop, so it really is an all-round win.
Read more about the debate on fruit juice.
A forage in your fridge or fruit bowl will give you everything you need and a little goes a long way as kids tend to prefer simple add-ins. Do they have a favourite colour? Make a fruit water to match it. For green, try thinly sliced green apple and a sprig of mint, or they might prefer cucumber and mint. For red use sliced strawberries, small watermelon chunks or a handful of pomegranate seeds. For orange, try segments of satsuma or clementine.
You can also try multicoloured versions: orange, lemon and lime, say, or blueberries and raspberries. Let them experiment and find their own favourites then get into the habit of always having them to hand in the fridge.
Speaking of experiments, get your teenager to fetch that measuring jug again and fill it with 500ml of water. Now tell them to add 12 teaspoons of sugar – because that’s how much sugar a fizzy drink can contain. Get them to can the habit by replacing soda and sugar-laden energy drinks with fizzy water, fruit and herbs. Try rosemary with watermelon, thyme or basil with strawberry, or ginger with mint and lime.
It sounds almost too straightforward to mention, but the simplest way to drink more water is to start each day by putting a large jug or bottle in front of you where you’ll be reminded to drink it – front-and-centre is front-of-mind.
Recycle lidded glass passata jars and keep them in the fridge, or invest in screw-top bottles or flasks that everyone in the family can reuse each day. Keep frozen blueberries or grapes in your freezer to instantly cool and flavour water from your tap or freeze slices of cucumber, fruit or herbs in ice cube trays topped up with water to make flavoured ice cubes.
Watch our video on how to freeze fruit and vegetables.
Little kids may like a reward chart on the fridge to tick off how much they’re drinking throughout the day, and remember – if they’re nagging you for a snack, try a glass of water first. Often when they (or you) think they’re hungry, they may actually just be thirsty.
Enjoyed this? Get more ideas for flavoured water…
The health benefits of lemon water
The health benefits of coconut water
6 cool new ice cube flavours to try
Next level ice cube cocktails
Which other fruit and vegetable infusions have you tried in water? Leave a comment below…