Ever since my gran told me as a teenager that drinking water would give me beautiful, clear skin I’ve been trying, and most often failing, to sip the prescribed 6-8 glasses or 2 litres per day (depending on who you listen to). I’ve lost count of the number of heavy bottles I’ve lugged around in my bag or that have sat on my desk only to be left almost untouched. As the wintry weather sets in, it becomes even more of a sticking point. No matter how many acupuncturists, Reiki therapists, nutritionists, yogis, facialists and doctors tell me it’s good for me, I just don’t like it. Especially cold water, with ice. Especially with a meal (which I now know is not a good idea anyway because it dilutes the digestive enzymes).
I’ve been mulling on this lately and I do realise it has become a battle of wills between me and my body. Because deep down I know I feel better when I drink more water. I know this because when I get back in touch with my thirst and appetite (and having just been on a detox that’s where I’m at) most of the time, my hunger pangs are actually liquid pangs. And when I have enough liquid I completely forget the 4pm coffee/chocolate craving, I’m more energetic and my skin still looks bright and moisturised at the end of the day. Mind you, that’s in combination with the cocktail of expensive face creams I’m now addicted to. Plus, what we eat can contribute to how hydrated we are – plenty of crunchy salads, fruit, lightly cooked vegetables, soups which have a high water content make sense as opposed to dry, salty or dense foods.
As I sit and write this, newly detoxed and hydrated from my weeks’ retreat, I am sipping on hot water. That has to have been the biggest breakthrough in my water drinking battle. When I think about my constitution (classified as Vata in the ancient Indian health system of Ayurveda), it makes perfect sense that I wouldn’t want to drink cold water (I feel the cold particularly in my hands and feet). So, I now, even on my most parched days, make sure I drink two large cups of hot water and lemon before I do anything else. And ok it seems superficial, but it does seem to matter which cup I have it in. For me, it has to be a lovely transparent glass one. Over the summer, a pretty filigree-style decorated carafe and matching glass given to me as a present finally got some use. During the really hot weather, I’d fill it with cool-ish water with add fresh mint, coconut or lime as a super fresh way to get me through a stuffy day at my desk.
The real trouble comes in staying hydrated on the move. I try never to carry plastic bottles these days. For one thing, it seems ludicrous to buy bottled water (the cost, not to mention the environmental implications), but also the worrying risk of hormone disrupting chemicals leaching into the water from the plastic (especially in sunlight). So now I use a small sized stainless steel bottle (find them at greentulip.co.uk/brand/earth-lust/13oz-0.4l-earthlust-bottles/) and fill it with filtered water before I leave home. It’s not too heavy and can easily be topped up in cafes when I’m out and about. I find more places have jugs of lemon or lime infused water so you can just help yourself.
When I lose interest in pure, clear water, I’ll opt for the next best: herbal tea, which does spice things up a little. I was really inspired when I visited the lovely Ushvani Day Spa in London where they serve hibiscus tea post-treatment. It’s loaded with anti-oxidants apparently, and tastes sweet but still fresh and tart in the way a just-right apple might. And I’ve always loved Sencha green tea but can only manage that in small doses, which I now sometimes intersperse with Yerba Mate tea made from the South American herb known for its energising properties. Both are refreshing and light. Plus, a good quality cordial is always a great stand by to sweeten things up (my favourite right now is Thorncroft Detox Cordial – a bit like dandelion & burdock). All of these things help get my liquid count up, so now whenever a health guru asks if I am drinking enough water, I can say ‘yes’ (for now).