The biggest changes start with the smallest steps. Staying hydrated may be the number one rule for those living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Still, we all know how this very ordinary and normal habit can be one of the biggest challenges. While some patients simply forget to drink water throughout the day as they don’t really feel thirsty, others say they don’t have time or, worse, they underestimate the effects of a proper hydration. We put together a few tips on how to convince patients to increase their H2O intake.
First things first, you should establish the necessary water intake for each patient. This depends on their lifestyle, age and even the climate. Other things that may affect the calculations are their diet, perspiration and intake of other liquids. For example, coffee and alcohol are known to increase dehydration. While for many drinking water happens naturally, for others this is something that happens only and if they remember, since they don’t feel thirsty on a regular basis. Here’s what you can tell your patients to help them drink more water.
Get a designated water glass/bottle
It’s recommended that patients buy or get a water bottle that they can easily take with them at the office/at work or at the gym, so they can precisely measure their water intake. This makes it easier to follow the dietitian’s advice and stay hydrated. Not to mention the fact that there are so many cool water bottles available. This will help boost their enthusiasm and get started with this very healthy and essential habit.
Use every occasion to drink water
If your patients like to go out, then they have more opportunities to include water in their diet. Instead of ordering sodas and cocktails, they can order water and some lemon. Sticking to the one-to-one rule (one glass of alcohol, one glass of water) will help them avoid hangovers and dehydration caused by alcohol. As boring as it may seem to order water while going out (though we do not rule out alcohol), being aware of these positive outcomes and doing it for several consecutive times, will help the brain create a habit that will help them further on. While we can all admit to preferring wine to water for a pasta meal, for example, we can still have the wine, but just add a large bottle of water next to it.
For those who say they forget to drink water throughout the day, there are apps that will remind them and keep track of their H2O intake. Water Drink Reminder and iDrated are two such apps, but there are several available for all mobile devices. This is just another way technology can help us lead a more healthy lifestyle. This could be a great idea for tech aficionados and those working in offices. The repeated trips to the watercooler are also great opportunities to stretch out, make a few steps and socialize.
Add some flavor
You can recommend that they add lemon, lime or other fresh fruit for a stronger or more discrete flavor to their water. This is particularly useful for patients who claim they don’t like to drink water as it’s tasteless. These are the patients who prefer drinking sodas and other high-calorie drinks. Also, for these patients, sparkling water could be a good passage to drinking more plain water. So, if you’re not successful with recommending still water, sparkling water just might to the trick for now. Once they will lose the habit of drinking juice, drinking water will seem more natural. Another compromise is adding water to their sugary drinks. This could also lead to a total replacement of such drinks with H2O.
Start/end the day with some H2O
If patients associate drinking water with a time of the day, chances are they will develop a habit sooner than later. Therefore, advise them to start the day with a large glass of water at room temperature. This will give them a better feel before they eat or have coffee. It will cleanse and help trigger digestion. As an alternative, a large glass of water can accompany their daily coffee cup.
Alternative number two would be drinking a large glass of water right before bed. This does not necessarily mean more toilet visits. Instead, it seems that doing this before bed might help prevent strokes and heart attacks. There are several articles on the subject and you can recommend some to your patients for further research. Let’s say it’s worth waking up to urinate in the middle of the night.
Water is life
Along with all of the above, make sure you explain to each patient the benefits we get from drinking water. H2O is needed to protect the brain and the internal tissues, regulate body temperature, lubricate and cushion the joints, ensure a better digestion, a better skin, naturally detox our body through urination, bowel movements and perspiration. To make things even more obvious, you can point out the effects of dehydration that range from a dry mouth to fatigue. In between you have low blood pressure, migraines, dizziness and dry skin. Usually, we think that these symptoms are the effects of more serious causes and we don’t really think about the quantity of water that we drink. The truth is proper hydration can go a long way.
We would like to hear from you in the comments section below where you can share your own tips and strategies for convincing patients to drink more water.