by Lisa M. Wolfson
I have never been one to drink a lot of liquids throughout the day and was never a big water drinker. When I started chemotherapy in 2008, I was reminded of the importance of staying hydrated and flushing toxins from my body. Easier said than done. I would start out each morning with the best intentions but then realize, later in the day, I really hadn’t consumed much water at all. I would then try to make up for it with a large consumption but I was never able to accomplish a steady intake of H2O.
To provide nourishment, eliminate waste and administer the thousands of activities our bodies undergo every day, we need water. Dehydration can be very serious. It can cause fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness and stress. Chemo, in particular (and radiation, too, for that matter), is enormously dehydrating — it fills your body with excess toxins that need to be washed away.
So I knew that I needed help in this area.
My health coach worked with me to devise a plan to increase my water intake throughout each day. According to our plan, my day would begin with a 16-ounce glass of water, with lemon. I would either squeeze a quarter lemon into the glass or add a few drops of therapeutic-grade lemon oil. Lemon provides a great detox for the liver and adds an appealing flavor to the water. I would thus start my day with both hydration and a renewed consciousness of my necessary water consumption.
Since I drive to work, it was suggested that I purchase a metal water container rather than using plastic bottles. Whatever you choose, make sure it is a BPA-free product. (BPA — also known as Bisphenol A — is a controversial, hormone-mimicking chemical sometimes found in the lining of food cans and certain water bottles.) I fill my 24-ounce container with water and drink it on the way to work (I also have a smaller one that I use in situations requiring less gear). My counselor also gave me a great tip: you can sprinkle in some gray or pink salt to help your kidneys hold water longer. This is a trick I save for situations when I will be without access to facilities for long periods of time.
I repeat this water intake at work during the day, then fill my container again for the ride home and repeat the same procedure during the evening hours. I sometimes sip warm water between meals, which helps reduce cravings for food. In the summer months, adding some peppermint oil to water is very refreshing and also acts as an appetite suppressant. A great tip to follow while drinking alcohol is to follow a one-to-one ratio, drinking at least one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage consumed. This will help to reduce the dehydration caused by drinking alcohol, moderate the alcoholic consumption and leave you feeling better.
After following this plan for several weeks, I found myself drinking water rather than anything else and cutting back my coffee consumption as well. Now I have a small pitcher and glass on my desk at work and I drink water throughout the day as my preferred beverage. Even though my chemo days are now well behind me, having this plan has helped me become a true water drinker, a person who hydrates her body steadily throughout the day.
Don’t skimp on the water! There’s plenty to go around! Set up a plan that works for you and drink away!
Lisa Wolfson lives in Rockville Centre, New York, and she’s the Program Director at You Can Thrive!, an organization that provides free and low-cost support services for breast cancer survivors.
The photo titled “Water” was taken by Andrew Horowitz.