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by Jamie Leff

It’s summertime!

Which means warmer weather and outside activities. Kids love to run around, play sports, and stay active in the summer time. It’s important to keep your family hydrated this summer. One common complaint I get from my clients is that they can’t seem to get their kids to stay hydrated. They do not like the taste of water, so they just won’t drink enough of it. Here are some fun and easy tips to make sure you and your family are getting the liquid they need:

Instead of soda, try sparkling water.

You can add lemon, lime or even a splash of juice to give it flavor. Some brands also come in different flavors. Just be cautious about the sweetened ones, as most of them contain some sort of artificial sweetener.

Eat juicy fruits.

The more water in the fruit, the more hydration it will provide. Great options are watermelon, oranges, and grapes. (Here’s a tip: Freeze little baggies of grapes for a cold, refreshing treat!)

Have soup for dinner!

If something hot does not sound appealing, try this recipe for a yummy chilled carrot soup from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients :

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup diced onion
• 2 pounds carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
• 5 1/2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Thinly sliced baby carrots, for garnish

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Filling a blender halfway and covering with a kitchen towel, puree soup in batches. Stir in honey, and season with salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

3. Before serving, prepare breadcrumbs:
Heat olive oil in a medium-size saute pan over medium-high heat. Add fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs.

Stir constantly until toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool. Stir in finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon breadcrumb mixture, and thinly sliced baby carrots if desired.

Make homemade smoothies with water or coconut water and fresh fruit.

Just pick your favorite fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), add about 8 ounces of liquid per serving, blend and enjoy.

Save the leftover smoothie and pour it into popsicle trays and freeze for homemade popsicles.

Your kids will love these because it is a yummy treat, while moms will love them because they are made from fruit, without any added sugar.

Let your children pick out a special water bottle just for them to encourage them to drink more water.

If it is something fun that they enjoy, they will be more likely to want to take it with them to places.

Make a game with your kids, including a rewards chart for however many glasses of water they drink in a day.

While it is important to make sure that everyone is getting adequate fluid, not all beverages are created equal.

Avoid giving your family the following beverages, as they contain a lot more sugar and very little nutritional benefit:

Avoid giving your kids too much juice. Limit it to one glass a day, and if possible, dilute it with water.

Avoid sodas. Not only are they high in sugar, the phosphoric acid is terrible for their teeth!

Gatorade is for gators! Did you know Gatorade was originally invented for the college football team, the Florida Gators. It was designed as a way to replace electrolytes lost after hours of excessive sweating. If you or child is involved in a strenuous activity that lasts longer than an hour, then an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade would be appropriate. Otherwise, drinking it as a recreational beverage provides too much sugar and the extra electrolytes are not necessary.

A common question I get asked is, how much water should I drink in a day? How much should my kids be drinking? The general guidelines are to take your body weight and divide it in half. That is how many ounces of fluid you should be drinking on a daily basis. Not to get too graphic, but a good rule of thumb is to check out your urine. If it’s relatively clear, then you are in good shape!

Lastly, beware of dehydration! Symptoms can include dry mouth, sleepiness or tiredness (children tend to be less active than usual), dry skin, headache, decreased urine output, constipation, and lightheadedness or dizziness.

A common comment I get is, “I only drink when I’m thirsty.” Believe it or not, thirst is also a symptom of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to rehydrate. Hopefully, these tips will help to keep you and your family healthy and happy this summer season. Got any additional tips you want to share? Head over to www.JamieLeffNutrition.com and shoot me a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here
.