Even though we all seem to grasp the concept that we should drink more water, most of us are guilty of not replenishing our bodies with enough of the good old H2O. Whether it’s because we’re too busy or simply don’t like the taste, drinking the recommended allowance per day is a challenge.
If drinking water has become more of a chore for you rather than a healthy habit, here are nine strategies to help incorporate more water into your day, courtesy of the staff here at Cooking Light and members of the Cooking Light Diet. Now, drink up!
1. Establish a Routine
Similarly to how we establish a morning and bedtime routine, we can create a water consumption schedule to make drinking water more manageable. It’s as simple as waking up and having a glass of water, and when you’re getting ready for bed, having another glass. Then, at work or throughout the day, you can set up visual cues as a reminder. Try drinking water at the same time in the same place every day to make it easier to squeeze into your daily activities.
- “I drink an 8-ounce glass of water first thing in the morning. At work, I fill my 24-ounce sport bottle twice—once in the morning and again after lunch. I sip throughout the day, so I've had at least 56 ounces by the end of the workday. I have another glass with dinner. For me, it was just establishing a routine and it became habit.” - Debra Smith, Cooking Light Diet community member
2. Drink from Larger Containers
As the saying goes, bigger is always better. Carrying a larger container may incite you to drink more water, not to mention it makes it easier to achieve the recommended goal of 64 ounces or 8 glasses of water per day.
- “Tiny water bottles are annoying, and to meet your daily water quota, you have to drink so many! A bottle that only holds 16 or 20 ounces has me running to the fountain to fill up all day long. I've invested in a few bigger bottles, like Nalgene's 32-ounce Wide Mouth Bottle and Takeya's 40-ounce Thermoflask, which is especially great because it keeps water cold for hours. That way, I know I only have to drink two to three bottles while I'm at work, and I've met my water goal for the day. Three bottles is much less daunting than eight or nine bottles.” - Kimberly Holland, Editor, CookingLight.com
- “I've been drinking water out of a quart-size deli container. It's like a little bucket.” - Darcy Lenz, Editor, MyRecipes.com
3. Add Flavor
We feel your pain. Water can be pretty bland and tasteless. Jazz up your guzzling experience by infusing your water with watermelon chunks, orange slices, raspberries, or lemons. You can even freeze fruit and use it in the place of ice cubes for cooler water. If you’re missing that carbonation or fizz from sodas, try sparkling water or a club soda.
- “I drop in an herbal tea bag and sometimes fruit. I make enough for two days so that it stays fresh. And then I just grab them, cold and steeped from the fridge. I use a hibiscus tea, a ginger tea, and chamomile to switch up the flavors. It’s a really mild, smooth flavor.” - Cheryl Slocum, Senior Food Editor, Cooking Light
- “I’m addicted to infused water. I buy pints of pre-cut fruit (melons, berries, mango, etc.) and put it in a 2-gallon pitcher with water overnight.” - Saska Albright, Cooking Light Diet community member
- “In the morning, I put lemon, lime, and orange slices in my 24-ounce Tervis tumbler and fill it up with water. I try to have a couple of those. Sparkling water is also a go-to, and has gotten me off of soda. It took a minute, but it worked.” - Katie Kinney Anderson, Cooking Light Diet community member
4. Use Your Phone
Keep track of how many ounces or glasses of water you’ve consumed with the help of a free app, like Waterlogged or Daily Water Free. The HidrateMe Smart Water Bottle is tech-savvy, connecting with your phone to log sips and how much you have left for the day. If you’re not into apps, you can always set an alarm on your phone or calendar to remind you to drink every couple of hours. There’s no greater mental trigger than a loud siren, notification alert, or jingle to get you back into the swing of things.
- “I use the free app Plant Nanny. You get a plant and have to water it throughout the day. It sends reminders to your phone when it is time to drink. When you drink, your plant grows. If you don't drink enough, the plant gets sad and wilts or turns brown. It's a cute way to make sure I get my water.” - Cynthia Mason Moran, Cooking Light Diet community member
5. Eat More Hydrating Foods
We cheated a little here, but water consumption is cumulative. Sneak the following water-rich fruits and veggies into your diet to stay hydrated: cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, apricots, zucchini, grapes, cherries, cauliflower, radishes, celery, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. For a tasty and healthy snack, try homemade frozen popsicles made with fruit, water, and an ice mold. While fruits and vegetables are a great source of water (especially in comparison to eating junk food), raw produce won’t give you your total daily water intake. So you’ll still need to drink throughout the day.
6. Buy Different Water Bottles
Bored? Unmotivated? Pushing yourself to drink more water may come down to just buying a pretty new thing. Purchase one in your favorite color, unique design, or a crazy shape, and you’re sure to use it a lot more. You can even mark drinking goals on clear bottles or decorate them yourself with motivational stickers or quotes to keep going. Find one or two you actually like that you can personalize, and you’ll find yourself carrying it around everywhere.
- “I buy fun water bottles! Whenever I'm bored and not interested in drinking I'll get a new one.” - Crystal Kreager, Cooking Light Diet community member
7. Stay Active
A no-brainer, but who wants to be chained to their desk all day? Further incentive to get moving is to make a trip to the water fountain to refill your bottle or pitcher. You’ll torch a few calories and quench your thirst at the same time.
- “My simple tip for remembering to stay hydrated? Move at least once an hour. I've made a habit of getting up from my desk once each hour throughout the workday, and every time I make my quick loop around the floor, I take my 20-ounce water bottle with me to refill it. It may sound simple, but the act of standing up always reminds me to grab my water bottle. An 8-hour workday = 160 ounces of water a day, which is more than the recommended 120 ounces. (This gives me some wiggle room if I get stuck in a long meeting or forget to make a loop, which never happens, of course.)” - Emma Crist, Assistant Editor, MyRecipes.com
8. Use Rubber Bands
A fun and easy way to stay encouraged and to remind yourself to drink more water is by using rubber bands. Take your water bottle and place colorful rubber bands around it. Every time you finish the bottle, you get to remove the rubber bands and add them to your wrist. It’s a clever strategy to monitor your progress throughout the day.
- “I drink a glass of warm water as soon as I get up and add one rubber band to my 8-ounce glass. Each time I drink, I fill up eight ounces and add a rubber band, having already set aside eight bands. I always have a visual to see my intake for the day and what is left by the end of the day. Funny that a 16-ounce bottle of water is more intimidating to me than quickly drinking an 8-ounce glass.” - Kelly Becker, Cooking Light Diet community member
9. Carry Refillable Water Bottles or a Pitcher
Carrying a non-plastic reusable water bottle is not only good for the environment, but it's also good for your wallet and your daily water quota. If you’re someone who is always on the go, keeping a constant water companion with you will serve as a reminder to stay hydrated while you’re out and about. For those with a desk job, a pitcher or large container sitting on your desk is convenience at your fingertips. With a handy pitcher always available at your cubicle, you don’t have to get up and constantly refill or keep track of how many glasses you’ve had.
- “I don't like my water ice cold so I leave a case of water by the door to my garage. Every time I go out I grab a bottle or two depending on the amount of time I expect to be out. I also have a 16-ounce glass that I leave on the kitchen counter and sip from. If I finish four bottles or glasses per day, I know I drank enough.” - Joanne Zuccaro Devaney, Cooking Light Diet community member
- “I fill up a gallon water bottle every day to keep at my desk at work. Then, I use it to fill my glass. I like the visual of how much I’ve had and how much is left to go.” - Meghan Cronin Wilson, Cooking Light Diet community member
- “I have a 64-ounce Rubbermaid pitcher. I keep it with me all the time. By early evening, it needs to be empty! That works for me.” - Bonnie Schubert-Sherman, Cooking Light Diet community member
By following these nine tips and tricks, you’ll learn to love the taste of water and how to prioritize your sips.