10 Summer Tips for Staying Hydrated

This article first appeared on Food and Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup Blog.

Living in California, especially during the drought, has everyone conserving water, but it also means it’s very hot and dry here. As everyone’s climates start warming up, make sure you’re keeping hydrated with these helpful tips!

Start the day with a full glass of water

If you’re like me, coffee can sometimes be the first thing I drink in the morning. Make it a goal to start each day with a full glass of water to get a head start on your fluids, try putting a glass of water by your bed to drink first thing.

Update your water bottle

If you find that you are avoiding your water bottle because it’s hard to clean, ugly or maybe even has a funky smell – it’s time to get a new bottle and one you actually will use and LIKE to carry with you.

Make drinking water easier

If you prefer the wider-mouthed bottles (think Nalgene) for easy cleaning, you can find an Easy Sip lid to fit inside the mouth to make it easier to sip from when you’re active, here’s the one Nalgene makes.

Try a clear water bottle

Try buying a clear reusable bottle that you can visually see how much or little you have drank, this can be a helpful motivator to fill up and drink up!

Triple it!

If you have a 16 ounce water bottle, make it a goal to fill up your water bottle at least 3 times throughout the day.

Increase your fluid-containing fruits and veggies

Add fruits and vegetables with high water content to your diet, like: cabbage, spinach, squash, watermelon, citrus, cantaloupe, or strawberries.

Keep a fluid journal

Write down how much water you drink to keep you on track with your daily goal.

Stay hydrated during exercise

Make sure to drink fluids during exercise, especially if exercising outdoors or in a hotter climate: Aim for staying hydrated without overhydrating, urine should be a pale yellow, check out the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics  tips for fluid needs and exercise:

Travel smart

If you’re a frequent traveler, bring a small, empty water bottle and refill once you’re in your boarding area.  You can save the cost of a water bottle, help limit waste and have access to water throughout your flight. The airplane cabin is a low humidity environment which can dehydrate us and leave us even more susceptible to jet lag – even more reason to sip throughout the flight.

Try an infuser to help increase water intake

If you’re tired of plain water, add strawberries, cucumber, lemon, or mint to add flavor. You can even purchase an infuser water bottle to take on the go.

Eating Siggi’s with Siggi!

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Full disclosure: This blog post was created after attending a Breakfast with Siggi event, all opinions are my own.

I was fortunate enough to attend an event this week in San Francisco hosted by Siggi’s dairy. If you haven’t heard of Siggi’s it needs to be on your next grocery list.

In one 5 oz container you can get 100 calories from calcium-rich yogurt, protein from happy New York cow’s, lots of healthy gut bacteria called probiotics and a lot LESS sugar than any leading brand of flavored yogurt. Siggi also produces a plain yogurt, which I thought tasted great, but also less tart compared to other strained yogurts (like Greek yogurt).

Siggi’s yogurt is different than other strained yogurts because it is made the traditional Icelandic way that the founder, Siggi Hilmarsson, was familiar with growing up. Strained yogurt  is made using milk and live cultures (like lactobacillus thermophilus and lactobacillus acidophillus)  that are heated and then left to sit to start the yogurt-making process. After a nice long rest (usually about 10 hours) you can then strain the yogurt by scooping it out of your container and placing into a cheesecloth-lined colander that allows the whey to drain away from the curd. The whey contains more lactose so strained yogurt actually has less lactose, making it a little easier for digestion if you are lactose intolerant.

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Scooping the soon-to-be yummy yogurt into a cheesecloth to strain.

Draining whey from the yogurt.

Draining whey from the yogurt.

Siggi’s uses four gallons of milk to make one gallon of strained yogurt! The final product has more protein to give you a more satisfying breakfast or snack.  Siggi’s flavored yogurt uses fruit and agave (not all flavors use agave) which helps keep the nutrition profile looking great: 100 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

The event ended with Siggi making yogurt and opening up the session for questions as well as questions he had for us dietitians. It’s great to work with a company who values health and nutrition as much as I do and does so sustainably. Siggi’s is located in New York and sources its hormone-free milk from local cows. The extra whey that is drained in the process of making yogurt is used for pig feed and to generate electricity for New York – how cool is that?

Try adding yogurt to your smoothie, use the plain instead of sour cream or try the flavored on-the-go Siggi products as a yummy snack, dessert, or post-workout pick-me-up!

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Choosing healthy foods on a budget is definitely possible; it just takes a little time and planning!

  • Plan ahead

Pick a day in your week where you have time to look ahead at your schedule. Pick at least two days during the week that you will plan to cook at home. On your busier days, plan to eat leftovers from the day before or try having quick, staple ingredients on hand for a “throw-together” meal.  I like having brown rice, fresh or frozen veggies and a lean protein like fish, skinless poultry or tofu on hand. A great way to make a store list and look at ingredients/food labels is ShopWell. This site allows you to add foods to your shopping list that you then can print and bring to the store. Items are ranked by dietitians on a healthy to unhealthy scale.

  • Look at what you already have on hand

If you have extra veggies on hand and left over noodles and marinara, make a quick pasta dish and think about purchasing a lean protein to add to the dish. This way you use up what you already have and save money that week by not purchasing additional produce and ingredients you may not need.

  • Coupons!

You don’t have to be an Extreme Coupon® contestant to find great deals. Look in the newspaper ads or online at your favorite grocery store for coupons. Pick a grocery store that also offers fuel rewards to gain additional benefits while you shop.  Make sure to become a member of your favorite grocery store so you are eligible for the rewards or deals offered in store. The store brand version of an item is just as good as the name brand version. If you find a deal on brown rice that’s store brand, buy it!

  • Buy in season

Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season is a great way to save money and have great tasting produce.  Seasonal fruits and vegetables are produced and sold in abundance which typically allows for a lower price tag. Check out the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture and see the seasonality charts for Northern California.

  • Plant a garden

If you would prefer to eat foods in season, but want to save even more money – plant a garden. This is a great way to grow exactly what you enjoy eating and to try additional produce you may not necessarily buy. This is also a great way to spend time with your family and teach children about where food comes from and what a healthy array of fruits and veggies looks like. If you don’t have the space at your home for a garden, check online for community gardens in your area.

  • Frozen fruits and vegetables

Having fruit and vegetables in your freezer is a great way to throw together a quick meal or add extra veggies to a soup or stir fry, or fruits in a smoothie.  Frozen produce is picked at its peak and flash frozen, locking in the nutrients.  Frozen produce is also less expensive than fresh and can be just as tasty.

  • Buy in bulk

When possible, buy in bulk. This tends to work best with non-perishable food items or if you have a family to feed this works well too. Look for rice (or other whole grains), pasta, beans, canned tuna or salmon, low sodium broth, canned tomatoes or canned vegetables low in sodium to keep on hand since these store for longer periods of time.

5 Things a Dietitian Wishes You Knew

heart shape by various vegetables and fruits

After many overheard conversations in the women’s locker room and questions from clients, I felt it was time to set the record straight!

  1. Meal timing

Creating a healthy mindset around food and your body is important to making sure you’re fueling it right! Instead of skipping breakfast (or any meal for that matter), try starting your day with a balanced meal – I can’t get enough plain yogurt with sliced fruit and a side of toast with peanut butter!  Foods that make you feel full and fuel you for 3-4 hours set you up for a great day. Eating every 3-4 hours can avoid drops in blood sugar. Low blood sugar can lead to hunger that makes you feel like the star of a Snickers® commercial.

  1.  Rethink  cleanses

The best cleanse you can do is to provide your body with a variety of nutrients and fluids (preferably water) that keep your liver, kidneys and colon functioning well.  These organs help excrete waste, so they are crucial to a healthy body.  Instead of lemon juice and cayenne pepper, cleanse with a rainbow of whole fruits, veggies and water!

  1. How about gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It can cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms in those who are sensitive or intolerant.If you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease this requires a complete elimination of gluten in order to minimize damage to your digestive tract. If you do not have any of the above conditions, there’s no need to eliminate it from your diet! Gluten is found in many whole grains, like barley, bulgur and farro. These grains provide tons of fiber, nutrients and protein and can take a meal from good to great! Eliminating foods from our diet when there isn’t a need can lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Consult with your doctor and a Registered Dietitian when making a change in your diet or if you think you may have any of the above conditions.

  1. Fat is getting a makeover

The Advisory Report for the  Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 have been released! These guidelines look at current research and trends in the diets of Americans.  The report stresses the importance of a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, and removed restrictions to avoid cholesterol in our diet – great news for eggs! These guidelines encourage us to minimize and replace saturated fats like butter, animal fats and creams, to healthy fats like avocados, salmon, seeds and nuts. Saturated fats can raise  LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. If you prefer butter on your toast that’s great!  Just don’t put on an extra layer because you read that eating more fat is better.

  1. Fruit is ok!

Fruit does contain natural sugars but it also contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. It’s important to eat fruit on a daily basis, about 2 cups per day, and focus on a healthy balance of fruit and veggies to get all the nutrients your body needs.

Nutrition and eating healthy should be enjoyable, make sure to read everything and know where your food and nutrition information comes from!

Coconut Water

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics describes coconut water as the liquid inside a green, immature coconut; while coconut milk is the inner white flesh of a mature coconut. Coconut water has been very popular lately as a replacement for typical sports drinks. Unflavored coconut water is a source of calories, sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates. Typical sports drinks contain electrolytes and calories to help provide fuel and replenish lost electrolytes from sweat.

For a light-to-moderately active person, coconut water wouldn’t be necessary. If you’re eating a balanced diet and exercising less than one hour, water would be the best, and most inexpensive choice.  Long endurance athletes would benefit from some type of sports drink that can replenish their carbohydrates and electrolytes. Coconut water does contain similar components as Gatorade, for example, but may be more expensive.  Registered Dietitian, Mitzi Dulan, put together a great table that shows common sports drinks and how they compare. Mitzi Dulan also states that the best sports drinks are those with 5-8% carbohydrates or 50-80 calories per 8 ounces and 120-170mg of sodium per 8 ounces. With this in mind, unflavored coconut water falls short for calories and sodium if it were to be used for long endurance exercise. Coconut water is also high in potassium. Potassium is an important mineral for transporting nutrients within our cells, to help muscles contract and helps minimize the effects sodium has on our blood pressure, but if you have kidney failure this high potassium beverage may not be the best choice.