5 Ways To Avoid Dehydration During COVID-19

by Kristen Keen MBA, RD, LDN

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

From how often you shower to how often you grocery shop, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes to our daily routines, including how we approach drinking water. With schedules changing so often, it’s easy to forget habits like keeping a water bottle at your desk that used to be part of your normal day to day. Our body is made up of around 60% water, so ensuring we’re paying attention to our water intake is critical, no matter what else is going on around us. Hydration is a key pillar to optimal health and nutrition. Getting the right amount of fluids is crucial for regulating body temperature, aiding digestion, absorbing nutrients, removing waste from the body, protecting tissue and the spinal cord, as well as keeping organ systems functioning in tip top shape. Here’s how to best avoid dehydration during these unusual times.
  1. Know your needs.
    Fluid needs are different for everyone. Activity level, age, pregnancy, temperature, and medications all factor into your personal hydration recommendation. For a general estimate of how much water you need, simply take ½ your body weight in pounds, which corresponds to approximately how many ounces of water you need each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink about 75 ounces of water a day. Be sure to consult your healthcare team if you restrict fluids due to medications or medical needs like congestive heart failure or renal disease. Remember, 8 ounces equals 1 cup, so 75 ounces equals around 9 ½ cups of fluid. This may seem like a lot, but remember that this total fluid goal also includes fluid in the foods you eat (example- fruits and vegetables, soups, saues).
  2. Choose foods that help you reach your goals.
    Water-rich foods count toward our daily fluid intake. These include fruits and veggies like:
    • Zucchini
    • Broccoli
    • Cucumber
    • Tomato
    • Spinach
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Bell Peppers
    • Cauliflower
    • Celery
    • Green Cabbage
    • Oranges
    • Strawberry
    • Cantaloupe
    • Pineapple
    • Peaches
    • Raspberries

    And the most hydrating fruit of all? Watermelon. One cup of watermelon is equivalent to more than a half cup of water! Broth and soup, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice and100% fruit juice also count towards your daily fluid intake.
  3. Listen to your body’s cues.
    Bodies are made to adapt throughout life. Pun intended, our bodies have our backs. Bodies demonstrate a need for water through many signs like headaches, fatigue, dry skin, thick mucus, achy joints, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and constipation. These can all act as your body's way of telling you to drink up. The “golden” rule to determine hydration? Urine color. Aim for urine to be a pale yellow to clear color, similar to fresh lemon juice. Dark amber urine can be an indicator that you are dehydrated.
  4. Keep it interesting.
    Sparkling water and seltzer water are excellent options to mix it up and encourage yourself to drink more.

    Try add-ins like oranges, lemons, and limes to add an extra zest. If you have started an herb garden this year or have extra herbs on hand, throw in a stem of rosemary or a handful of basil. Fresh fruit and/or vegetables like pineapple and cucumbers add a subtle hint of flavor to your water, and make it more visually appealing. Try throwing a few of these ingredients into a refillable water bottle. Fill up your water bottle first thing in the morning as a gentle reminder to drink water throughout the day.

    If you start becoming more active, look to beverages like coconut water, low fat milk, 100% fruit juices, and lower-calorie sports beverages to give your body a little extra boost of nutrients and electrolytes. When picking a sports drink, find ones that are low in added sugars.
  5. Hydrate even at happy hour.
    Sparkling water and seltzer water are a nice addition to any drink, whether a mocktail or a cocktail. Remember, alcohol is a mild diuretic that can negatively impact hydration status. The American Heart Association recommends women limit to one or less alcoholic beverages a day, men limit to two or less. Diluting your drink with bubbly water can help you indulge without overdoing it.

While our routines may have changed, there are still ample opportunities to healthfully hydrate throughout the day. Whether you focus on foods, beverages, or both, the many benefits of proper hydration make these healthy tweaks worthwhile. Start small, track your progress, and enjoy feeling better, looking better, and knowing that you’re showing care and concern for your hard-working body.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Kristen Keen MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen Keen MBA, RD, LDN

Kristen connects with her patients by helping them develop a positive relationship with food and getting back to the basics to simplifying everyday life. Kristen believes the term “DIET” is a four-letter word that should not be in our vocabulary. Outside of work you can catch Kristen staying active in the community, spending time with her family, friends, and two awesome Italian Greyhounds, and watching her beloved Kentucky basketball team.