If you're relying solely on eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated, consider counting your fluid ounces in other ways. "Our daily fluid requirement is not exclusive to water," explains Nicole Silber, R.D., C.N.D., of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. "We can get in significant amounts of hydration from foods and other drinks."
So while you can't set your water bottle aside for good, you can introduce new foods and fluids into your diet—while cutting back on others—to help you hit your ideal daily H2O-mark.
1. Pack color onto your plate. Heap servings of fruits and vegetables—enough to take up half the space of your plate—at each meal. "Produce supplies water, in addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber," says Alissa Rumsey, a New York City registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Vegetables and fruits with the highest water content include celery, tomatoes, melon and oranges."
2. Soak up the summer season. Watermelon is its freshest—and least expensive!—June through August, and we recommend you buy it in bulk. "Watermelon is not only delicious and in season, but it's high water content contributes to your daily fluid requirements," says Silber.
3. Skip dry, carb-heavy snacks. Chips, crackers and pretzels have very low water content, and strip you of the opportunity to snack on something more hydrating. "Instead reach for snacks with higher water content such as yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, cut up veggies with hummus, or homemade smoothies," Rumsey suggests.
4. Make oatmeal a breakfast staple. Creamy oatmeal, sprinkled with fresh fruit, "makes for a surprising source of fluid," Silber says, "because the oats expand and absorb the water or milk that they are cooked in."
5. Sip on unsweetened, flavored teas. Chugging water is boring—so spice up what you sip on. "Flavored drinks typically are easier to drink than plain water, meaning you are likely to drink a larger amount," explains Rumsey. "Brew homemade iced tea and add some fresh lemon, or have a mug of hot chamomile or green tea—all count towards your daily fluid goal."
6. Think like a cat, and lap up cream. Sip up the milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl or pour yourself a glass as an after-work treat. "Milk alone—or even when turned into yogurt—can count toward your hydration," says Silber. "Yes, that means your smoothies can be hydrating too!" Get our favorite smoothie recipes here.
7. Up your soup uptake. "Start your meal with a broth-based soup or a vegetable gazpacho," says Rumsey. Bonus: Gazpacho is served cold, so this water-packed appetizer won't make you sweat.
8. Cool off with a frozen dessert. When you've worked up a sweat at barre class, you're ready to guzzle your entire water bottle. But think about treating yourself with something sweet and cool, too. "Frozen desserts, such as homemade popsicles made with blended fruit and water, are a perfect rehydrating treat for hot summer months!" Silber says.
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