Can we stop obsessing about food and get back to a more autonomous, natural way of eating intuitively?
There’s more water than any other substance in our bodies. We have all heard the statistic that human bodies contain up to 70% water, but really this is pretty inaccurate and depends on variables like how much fat is on your body, how old you are and whether you are male or female. But to put it into perspective, bone which is the driest body part still contains around 30% water.
Oxygen is our number one most critical substance for survival but we tend to forget that humans can only live a couple of days without water compared to many weeks with no food. There are countless headlines devoted to food, yet drinking more pure clean water is rarely discussed. It’s common for many people to drink no pure water and subsist on only tea, coffee, soda and juices. Yes, these beverages contain water but they can also be dehydrating.
Is water the number one most common deficiency?
Natural whole foods have a large percentage of water. Fruits, vegetables, meats. But the modern diet of highly processed foods has been completely stripped of all water to be shelf stable and are very hard to eat without some liquid. These dry foods will draw water out from the body to become more digestible.
Water is used as a medium in our body to transport nutrients, hormones and chemical messengers to organs, tissues and cells. It fills the volume inside of our cells and outside our cells.
Our entire GI tract relies on mucus to lubricate it and protect it from corrosive enzymes, acid and alkaline substances. Mucous substances are composed of 98% water so it’s no surprise that dehydration can cause digestive issues. If mucus dries out due to body dehydration it wouldn't be able to protect delicate tissue from corrosive substances. Water is also needed for all digestive juices including bile and stomach acid, these can dry up if not enough water is present.
Water is also used to cushion bones and joints, regulates body temperature, flushes toxins, maintains electrical properties of cells and much more.
Are we only really thirsty when our mouth is dry?
Our body in a dehydrated state may still prioritise some water for saliva to keep the mouth moist for digestion. So it is misleading to think that we are only thirsty if our mouth is dry, by the time saliva dries up completely we are probably severely dehydrated.
The thirst sensation begins to gradually fail if we are chronically under consuming water. Once I upped my water intake it became obvious that I was thirsty the whole time but didn't register because the sensation came back.
Some common signs of dehydration:
Some signs of chronic dehydration:
Are you drinking enough water?
The best way to know is to track your water intake. Get a bottle and count how many times you drink it daily, most people are surprised that they have been overestimating how much water they actually drink. There are many theories about how much water to drink, but it’s recommended to not exceed one gallon (3.7L) a day because you could be losing minerals and electrolytes. Aim for around 2L and adjust for more if it’s hot or you’re exercising. Once you start drinking more water your natural thirst response will come back and you will crave drinking pure water daily.
Talking to a friend recently they were very surprised that I don't snack between meals. Really? No snacks? Personally, I'm satisfied in between meals and use those times to hit my water goals because I don't like to drink a lot of water right before, during or right after a meal. Here's my first foray into video, I talk about why we are driven to snack between meals and what we can do about it.
Being in the nutrition field or any health-related field can be all consuming. Health is part of everything we do, it is our life. But it’s easy to get caught up in all the things that are wrong or could be better - our diet, our meditation practice, our exercise, or stretching, vitamin protocol, yoga practise, time away from glowing screens. The list is endless.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that my body wants to be healthy. It is completely natural and innately inbuilt into us to be healthy and heal our body. So when things aren't perfect now, I give myself more grace.
We all know that person who wants to make healthier habits, get more exercise, cook healthy meals but just can’t seem to get there. Is motivation lacking? Maybe they just don’t care. I don’t think anyone should offer unsolicited advice to someone in their life. I like the saying “when the student is ready, the master will appear”. We can’t talk someone into making changes in their lives, but if they decide to want to make changes and need help - be there for them.
What's stopping you?
If making lasting healthy changes in your life are important then what is the roadblock? Everyone has those days that we feel that we have failed too many times. Too slow, too big, not good enough. Take comfort in the fact that every person (yes, even that person who seems to lead an impossibly perfect life) has those same feelings from time to time. It’s just that some people let those feelings stop them from leading their best lives. Others acknowledge those thoughts and then push them aside and say not today.
So how to tackle big lifestyle changes? Just like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.
Commit to cooking more meals at home.
Bring your lunch to work.
Prep meal ingredients ahead for the week.
Read ingredient labels.
Add more fresh vegetables.
Be more consistent with exercise, walking counts!
Cultivate a morning routine.
In bed by 10 pm.
Focus on one thing at a time and make it measurable. What you measure you improve. So put a number on it. You will bring your own lunch 4 days a week to work. You will get active 3 days this week. Set reminders on your phone or calendar. Once you make it a habit and it doesn't take much effort, incorporate something new.
What new healthy habit do you want to incorporate into your life? One of mine is making my bed every morning.