When the heat index feels like 100 degrees outside, staying hydrated is essential to prevent heat-related illness and general yucky feelings at bay. However, if carrying around a giant water container for you and everyone in your family sounds daunting, it's time to change your hydration game plan.
How much a person exercises, how much they sweat and what climate they live in factors into how much water someone needs to be drinking, or in this case, eating per day, according to Nutritionist and lifestyle coach Karina Heinrich.
Heinrich is a nutritionist and wellness coach based in Chicago who has spent nearly two decades helping people all over the world, from professional athletes to moms on the go, learn how to form healthy lifestyles. A crucial part of Heinrich's holistic health plan will be hydration.
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"I don't think people realize a simple ingredient like water affects our ability, our metabolism, our energy levels, how we sleep," Heinrich said.
Many fruits and vegetables contain over 90% water and nutrients and antioxidants our bodies need.
Heinrich recommends adding these to your grocery list anytime during the year, especially during the warmer months.
"97% of a cucumber is water, celery, big leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe. Broccoli is one of them. And then your berries. So those are like the top ten hydrating foods out there," she said.
Strawberries are about 91% water and have antioxidants. According to Heinrich, cantaloupes are about 90% water and include more than a half cup of water per serving. Peaches are nutrient-dense and hydrating fruit with nearly 90% water weight. Any of these fruits would be good to include in smoothies, salads or add on top of cottage cheese and yogurt.
Ditch the salt shaker
If hydration is your goal, Heinrich advises limiting salt and sodium intake. Electrolytes are good but try getting those from pure coconut water versus a sports drink loaded with sweeteners and flavorings.
"We want electrolytes, but I think people confuse sodium with salt. One of the first things I do for my clients is we get rid of the salt shaker," she said. "People get so much salt in packaged goods every time they eat out. Restaurants actually soak all their salads in salt water to bring out the flavoring and the color, which people don't realize. So the amount of salt we're getting is an immediate way for water retention to dehydration."
Recipe and snack ideas
As a mom of three active kids, Heinrich says she struggles with getting her children to eat fruits and vegetables, too.
"So I have to get really savvy. And kids love anything they can make their own and take ownership of. So it brings the kids into the kitchen," she said.
Heinrich lays out chopped fruits, like mangoes and strawberries and lets her children make their own homemade popsicles.
"Any time you give kids options, they feel like they're creating it, and it's like they're their creation rather than mom telling them, you have to eat your strawberries or your berries," Heinrich said.
Another easy way to make fruit more appealing is to freeze it. Heinrich recommends freezing watermelon chunks, orange slices and other fruits in Tupperware.
For a good variety, put the frozen fruit on a skewer to make fruit kebabs.
"Frozen oranges are amazing. These are great to take along to the beach or the park as they thaw out on the go and are perfectly chilled when you want to eat them. Other amazing options are grapes, banana chunks, mango and pineapple," Heinrich said.
Here's a quick homemade mango popsicle recipe from Heinrich: Blend a large peeled and chopped mango, the juice of 1 lime and ½ cup of water, or use ½ cup of Greek yogurt to up the protein and calcium, and ½ cup of chopped strawberries. Freeze in your popsicle molds and enjoy.
And who doesn't love ice cream?
Heinrich's guilt-free two-ingredient banana ice cream recipe is one everyone can love. All you need is some frozen banana and some peanut butter.
Peel and slice four to five ripe bananas and freeze for around 4 hours until firm. Pop the frozen banana and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in a high-powered blender until smooth.