Monday, 21 May 2012

Is it Hunger or is it Thirst?




My eldest turned four years old this past week. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. It feels like yesterday that I was hit by the mack truck of motherhood. I have heard recently that when they your children are young it is physical exhaustion that consumes you, but hit the teen years and you are into the emotional exhaustion. Another reason to get my body humming along at it's maximal healthy potential. 


As for making healthy choices the afternoons can be my nemesis. My energy bottoms out and I usually find myself in front of my cupboards having the same debate, sometimes multiple times a day. I want something to eat, but not really sure what and I don't really feel hungry, just tired and missing something. Usually I end up reaching for a quick carbohydrate type snack such as crackers and end up feeling more sluggish an hour later. There are multiple variables that could be contributing to my afternoon slump. A few of them being not enough protein at breakfast and lunch, too many simple carbohydrates which are sending me on an insulin/sugar joyride with the inevitable crash, lack of physical activity and lack of quality sleep. All of which I plan on tackling over the next little while. But as I stand there, there is one question I am starting to ask myself more often. 


Am I really hungry or am I thirsty? Sometimes I think that I am walking around in a constant state of low-level dehydration. I don't drink water between my meals and sometimes after a meal when I'm cleaning up I'll realize I've only drank 1/2 of my glass of water. We have all heard of the maxim to drink 8-10 cups of liquid a day (2-2.5 Litres). Looking back I think I am averaging 3 cups per day or 750ml. The general guideline of 2-2.5 litres of total water is based on the average intake of female North Americans  (males it is 3.7L). This includes water in our foods. According to national surveys in the U.S. approximately 20-28% of our liquid comes from water, 28% from our food and 44% from other beverages (juice, milk, soda etc.). So if 25% is coming from my foods then perhaps I need to just drink 1500-1600ml (6 cups) per day. Which feels more manageable to me.
The recommendation is to drink when you are thirsty. But am I mistaking my thirsty signals for hunger? If I wait for the thirsty signal to scream at me am I already dehydrated?


My quick fix solution for the moment? Start the day with 500ml (2 cups) water before breakfast. Next time I'm standing in front of the cupboard ask myself, when was the last time I had something to drink? I think I'll reach for a glass of water with lemon slices before those goldfish crackers and see how I feel.


For now I'm going to favour water as my source of liquid. Where does your liquid come from? How much do you drink a day? 


Up next: Are we drinking ourselves to obesity? (referring to those other beverages)

6 comments:

  1. I started when I was pregnant always having a 1 litre jar of water next to me at all times, and I still do. Anything smaller would just always be empty. I think I drink about four of them per day. . . my toddler is still voraciously nursing, and I find I'm thirsty all the time. :)

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    1. I always remember being told when I was nursing that increased fluid intake didn't increase my milk production. However, in my personal experience I always found that the girls had much better feeds when I remembered to drink. That may be because I was going from a somewhat dehydrated state to one of hydration! I think I need to follow your lead and fill up my water jug at the start of the day and leave it on the counter.

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  2. I've known for a while that the feeling of hunger can easily be mistaken, when it's actually thirst. But remembering that is another matter. The days when I'm on the ball I fill up a jug and keep a visual reminder on the counter, so I can see I have more to drink. But critically it's about going slow and steady. I followed an exercise/eating regime years ago (which I still loosely follow from time to time) and they suggested 1 small cup each hour during the day. Made sense to me!

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    1. The little and often approach is an excellent suggestion. Especially since I'm a grazer who eats a little something every 3-4 hours. Time to pull out the decorative glass jug! Doesn't hurt when it is visually appealing.

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    2. ps - I found (like your image) that adding a couple of slices of lemon made it so much more appealing!

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  3. As my husband often teases me when I say, "I'm hungry. Or maybe thirsty?": "Or maybe tired? Or scared?" He thinks he's being funny, poking fun at my indecision, but it's more true than we think, isn't it?

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