Staying hydrated is important

Becky B. Gautreaux

Your drink is as crucial as your meal. Be mindful of your beverage since many are loaded in non-nutritive calories and sugar. Some contain too much fat or sodium.
Here are some tips to make a better beverage selection:
1. Drink plain water whenever you are thirsty. Regular soda, sports drinks and other sweetened beverages contain added sugar providing more calories than needed or bargained for. Adults and children take in 400 calories a day in beverages. To maintain a healthy weight, sip water throughout the day.
2. How much? Your thirst is your guide. Everyone needs a different amount of fluids depending on your activity level and health. Increase water consumption if you are very active, pregnant, work in hot conditions, or an older adult. Your urine color is also a good indication of hydration. You are drinking enough if your urine color is pale yellow or colorless. It’s time to drink up if your urine is small in volume, strong-smelling or dark in color (although taking certain vitamins and dietary supplements may also temporarily darken urine color).
3. Be a bargain drinker. You can save money by drinking water from home or when eating out. Instead of buying bottles of water every day, bring a jug of water to work and refill your cup. When eating out, ask for limes, lemons or even oranges to flavor your water.
4. Hungry or thirsty? Sometimes you think you are hungry when actually you are thirsty. Next time you go to grab a snack, drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes — are you still hungry?
5. Be a role model. Have water, low-fat or fat-free milk or 100 percent juice accessible in your home for the whole family to drink. Put healthy drinks in ready-to-go containers for rushed mornings. They will be easier to grab when away from home. Kids will follow in your footsteps and drink what you drink. It is recommended for children (depending on age) to drink ½ to 1 cup, and adults no more than 1 cup of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice each day.
6. Want milk? Choose low-fat or fat-free milk or fortified soymilk. Each contains key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Children 2 to 3 years old need 2 servings of dairy a day, while children 4 to 8 years old need 2½ servings, and anyone older needs 3 servings.
7. Savor the moment. When water will not satisfy you — enjoy your favorite beverage, but just cut back. Check the serving size in the can, bottle or container to stay within your calorie needs. Select smaller cans, cups or glasses. Sit back and savor each sip.
8. Working out? Try the “weigh-in” technique for rehydration. Weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 16- to 24-fluid ounces to replace each pound lost. Pick a drink that appeals to you. Of course, plain water is a great replenisher, but if you don’t like water, you can still stay hydrated by drinking other liquids.
9. Be aware. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose beverages at the grocery store. The label contains calories, fats and total sugar. Read the ingredients list to check for added sugars. Remember when choosing juice, “100 percent juice” should be in the list.
10. Research. Food-A-Pedia, an online feature available at ChooseMyPLate.gov/SuperTracker, can help you compare calories, added sugar and fats in your favorite beverages.
Follow these tips whenever choosing a beverage.
Water is a crucial component in our body making up 60 percent. Replenish it daily and frequently.
For more information contact Becky B. Gautreaux, RD, LDN, LSU AgCenter St. Mary Parish Area Nutrition Agent at the St. Mary Parish LSU AgCenter office, 500 Main St., Room 314, Franklin. She can be reached at 337-828-4100, ext. 300 or via email at bgautreaux@agcenter. lsu.edu.
Source: www.ChooseMy Plate.gov.

By BECKY B. GAUTREAUX, RD, LDN, LSU AgCenter St. Mary Parish Area Nutrition Agent

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