It is often recommended that men drink 10 cups and women drink 8 cups of fluid per day. In practice, everyone’s requirements are different. You are probably drinking enough to keep hydrated if you are producing pale urine about 5-6 times per day. On a hot summer’s day that amount is likely to be more than in the middle of winter. You also need more if you are exercising.
Water is always the best drink. Keep a supply of cool water in the fridge at all times, or carry a water bottle with you. In hot weather, freeze a bottle of water so it stays cool as it melts. Water can be flavoured with a couple of slices of lemon or orange, or even a bunch of mint.
Most of us enjoy drinking tea, coffee, soft drinks, cordials and juices in place of water. In moderation this is fine, however having too much of the wrong types of fluids can easily lead to weight gain. Soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices can add a lot of energy (calories or kilojoules).
Compare the sugar content of 1 cup (250ml) of each of these drinks.
|Soft drink||7 teaspoons|
|Sports drink||4 teaspoons|
|Fruit juice||7 teaspoons|
|Diet cordial||0.5 teaspoons|
|Diet soft drink||0 teaspoons|
Ordinary soft drinks and cordial are high in sugar and therefore high in energy. One can of soft drink contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar! Diet soft drinks and cordials are better choices, but do contain colours, flavours and artificial sweeteners and should be taken only occasionally. Cola drinks can be a particular problem because of the caffeine and phosphate content. They can increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life. And the popular energy drinks can give large amounts of caffeine- they are potentially very addictive.
Tea and coffee are a good source of antioxidants but coffee in particular can contribute to caffeine intake. If you enjoy drinking large amounts of coffee, you might like to try decaf varieties. Green tea, white tea or herbal teas are also great options. Some of the fancy coffee and hot chocolate options that are served in cafes can be very high in fat and sugar. Try a flat white, latte or cappuccino and ask for skim milk. Go easy on any added sugar- even small amounts add up over time.
Fruit juice is a concentrated way to get your fruit for the day. When you squeeze 1 orange it makes about 100ml of juice, less than half a cup. It is easy to drink a large amount of juice, but much harder to eat the same amount of fruit. Fruit juice does provide all of the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants found in the whole fruit but very little of the fibre. Most people should only have 1 small glass of juice each day if they are trying to control weight. Greater quantities are more suitable for fussy eaters who don’t eat much fruit or for an underweight person trying to gain weight.
You might enjoy a smoothie- where the fruit is blended with yoghurt, milk or other ingredients. This means that you are eating the whole fruit with all of the fibre- a much better option. Be wary of “healthy” drinks from juice bars. Although they may contain many vitamins and minerals they can be very high in calories or kilojoules and potentially can lead to weight gain.
It is important to include milk in your diet, but not in large amounts if you are trying to control your weight. Remember that other milk products such as cheese and yoghurt belong to the same food group, so enjoying these foods regularly means you do not need to drink large amounts of milk. Low fat milks are the best choice.
Many flavoured milks are high in fat and contain added sugar. If you like to drink flavoured milk, choose a low fat milk without added sugar. Alternatively you can flavour low fat milk at home with a little cocoa, or flavour essences. Or try a smoothie with milk, yoghurt and seasonal fresh fruit.