Although one abstains from food and drink when fasting, the most common issue that one faces is thirst, rather than hunger. The human body is hardy and can go for weeks without food; water though is another matter. As our bodies are made up of at least 60% water, we depend on this rather simple substance to function. From regulating our body temperature to lubricating our joints, to keeping our living cells hydrated, water is vital to our health. So what can we do to minimise the lack of hydration during fasting?
Cracked lips, pain in the kidneys and feeling lethargic are just some of the symptoms that my clients have exhibited. If you are in a hot climate, this is more of an issue as you lose additional water through sweat. The trick is of course to stay hydrated as much as possible, and here are some tips to help you with that.
Keep Water Within Reach
Break your fast with a glass of water. As your stomach shrinks due to the lack of food and drink during the day, it won’t take much to feel full. Most people find that after a small meal, they are satiated and then forget to drink more water. Rectify this problem by carrying a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Seeing the bottle will prompt you to take a sip every once in a while. Also keep a bottle of water by your bedside so you can take a few sips whenever you wake up in the middle of the night.
The aim should be to drink 8-12 glasses of water as on normal days, which is easier said than done, but not impossible. Taking a few sips whenever you can will add up and will aid greatly in keeping you hydrated. Be careful not to drink too much in one go though as this will result in the water being flushed out of your body instead of being absorbed as needed i.e. Drinking a whole bottle of water all at once will certainly help you meet your water intake goal easily but your body won’t get the benefits as most of the water will be flushed out. Focus on steady and constant small intakes of water; ideally this should be around one glass per hour between breaking your fast and sahur. However, as not many will want to wake up every hour just to have a drink, the focus should be on constantly hydrating yourself during your waking hours with regular glasses of water or even a few sips here and there if you’re feeling too full to drink.
Mix It Up
Mix your water with some freshfruit juice, coconut water or a bit of salt. These will help to hydrate you better as you will also be getting some electrolytes with your drink. This is also especially helpful for those who just don’t enjoy drinking plain water and would like some flavour in their drinks. These are much healthier options to drinking sugared drinks. Be careful though, you don’t want too much juice (because of the sugar content) or salt in your drink as you could end up being more thirsty as a result.
Try to stay away from all drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, black tea and Coke as these drinks are diuretics. Diuretics help your body to get rid of what it deems to be unneeded water and can therefore leave you dehydrated.
Reduce Your Salt and Sugar Intake
Food and drinks high in sugar and salt will increase your thirst. Although it may make your food tastier and that glass of carbonated drink may quench your thirst at first, in the long run, it won’t help much with hydration. Keep your food and drinks simple and you will benefit more from them.
Eat Potassium-Rich Food
Potassium-rich foods such as bananas, dark leafy greens and potatoes help to hydrate each and every cell better. Consumption of these, along with drinking water, will aid greatly in keeping you hydrated.
Along with all the tips above, little things that you do can help you stay hydrated. Stay out of the heat and avoid any activity that will cause you to sweat profusely. Conserve your energy and keep strenuous activities such as exercising to after you break fast or right before breaking fast; this will ensure that you can replenish your hydration levels immediately. Make a conscious effort to keep hydrated and keep your thirst at bay; your body will thank you for it!