How to Gauge Your Thirst and Stay Hydrated

As I continue on my journey to better health, I have discovered a very concise tell tale sign that I am lacking in the hydration department. Most times when I am thirsty, I start to become very spaced out and lightheaded. After I have had something to drink, the light headiness goes away immediately and the spaced out feeling slowly dissipates.

I have a 50-something ounce bottle that I try to fill up at least twice daily, so I almost always have a drink on hand. This has taken some discipline to get used to, and I honestly don’t have it down pat into my routine as yet. But when I feel that specific cue, I know it’s time to get some water in me.

I’m sure many people have heard at one point or another, that the body’s mechanism for thirst is a lot less prominent that its mechanism for hunger; and that people often mistake thirst for hunger. But what that actually means is usually not detailed. I’ve figured out, for myself at least, that these mistaken feelings of hunger may not necessarily be a hunger pang but rather mimics feelings that people associate with having not eaten in a long time. The thing is with thirst, I experience these feelings whether or not I’ve eaten, and I’m most likely to experiences these feelings soon after eating, when I have not had anything to drink.

When I experienced the feeling early afternoon a few days ago, I immediately began thinking that I should probably eat some carbohydrates for energy since my previous meal was mostly protein with vegetables and fruit. But before I could pop half a whole-wheat bagel in the toaster and then smear some cream cheese on it, I remembered, not only that I had just eaten about an hour ago, but that only beverage I’d had for the day was coffee. I then grabbed my water bottle, which was about two-third’s full and chugged it until I could feel the homeostasis returning to my body.

Developing healthy habits is an albeit rewarding, long and grueling process. I agree that making small healthy changes can result in an eventual overall healthy lifestyle. But some changes need to be more immediate than others.

In the midst of overcoming my breakfast issues: to eat or not to eat, and what to eat. My hydration often falls by the waist-side, which ultimate leads to a set back. Sometimes I’ll be so focused on trying to get breakfast right, that I forget to have any water. I’ve had times where I did not drink enough water for days on end. By that point, not only would my light headiness be to the point where my vision was blurring in front of me, but my mood would be depressed to the point where I’d be experiencing feelings of despair. I would most likely continue to conclude that I was, experiencing hunger — to the point where I would begin to turn to junk food for massive rushes of energy. When that does not even work, I know I’m doing something wrong. Especially when just a few gulps of water brings me right back to feeling happy and healthy.

I am a major advocate of water and staying hydrated. My ultimate goal is to instinctively drink 100 oz of water daily, which as I said, I get in two fillings of of my water bottle, and then some. A lot of people only drink more water when they feel it will help them lose weight. But using water as an appetite suppressant is definitely not the only reason to drink it. Being properly hydrated gives more energy, makes for a cleared mind, and yes, will probably decrease the desire for good. But being award of of thirst and how much water has been consumer is extremely important for remaining well hydrated, and is a habit that should be adopted regardless of weight loss goals.

My Tips For Gauging Thirst 

  • Are you feeling thirsty?
  • Do you remember the last time you had a drink of water?
  • Are you feeling lightheaded or spaced out?
  • Are you feeling lethargic or lacking energy?
  • Are you feeling cold?
  • Is your mood slightly depressed?
  • Is your throat dry?
Also try and pin point your own thirst symptoms. Once you realize you have not been taking in very much water, remember how you feel and note if those feelings go away after having some water and being more hydrated. Some symptoms may take longer to dissipate than others. And remember that symptoms of other unhealthy habits may also be in play, like lack of sleep. This is also a big one for me.

My Tips for staying hydrated 

  • Drink 1 to 2 glasses or at least 16 oz of water upon waking.
  • Drink water before and/or after every meal.
  • Drink water if you continue to feel hungry soon after a meal.
  • Drink water before, during and after exercising.
  • Carry a large water bottle that equals at least 64 oz in 2 to 3 refills.
  • Refill your water bottle 2 to 3 times daily.
  • Add a flavoring to your water (ideally sans sugar) to encourage yourself to drink.

Good suggestions for flavorings are fruits such as lemon, lime or berries. Some people even add cucumber slices to their water. I’m a big fan of adding tea bags to my water bottle. Especially mint infused green tea, which is very refreshing for summer.

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