Foods to Help Kids (And You) Stay Hydrated This Summer
You know how you're supposed to drink 8 glasses of water per day? Right, well, this is an antiquated health rule, but a lot of us were never doing such a great job of following it anyway. And if you haven't developed the habit of steady sipping throughout the day (and enforced that habit upon your offspring), sure... the idea of consuming that much water in a day is, without a doubt, mind-boggling.
But the truth of it is--even if it's never seemed like that pressing of an issue, your body needs an adequate amount of water to function at its fullest. I've witnessed proper hydration really transform people's mental and physical well-beings right here in our own office. Of course, wrapping an adult brain around this is one thing, but getting enough fluids into your kids, especially in the dead heat of summer, is another challenge all-together. If your child isn't glued to a glass a water, how do you keep them hydrated?
Sources beyond straight-up water can help.
Our friends over at Cooking Light summed it up perfectly--a smart (and easy) way to stay hydrated throughout the day is to eat hydrating foods. We often forget to account for the hydration obtained from solid food and even other beverages. If you get to the end of the day and realize that you've barely swallowed any water beyond a few gulps at meals, look at what else you've been munching or sipping on--there's a fair chance you were able to snag a good amount of water content from those sources over the course of your day.
There are plenty of water-rich foods hitting peak-season this time of year, which is just another one of those awesome things nature does to try to take care of our negligent selves. Loading up on these fruits and veggies is a great way to keep kids and yourself cool and hydrated in the summer heat. Here are the foods you ought to be packing into the kids' camp lunches (and snacking on as you you chop) to help get your family on the hydration ball:
Cucumbers are 96.7% water, which earns them the highest water content title among all other solid foods. With their mild and refreshing flavor, cucumbers are great sliced up for a packable, kid-friendly snack and are also perfect to toss into salads, infuse into drinks, or blend into a chilled soup.
*Pro-tip: Getting your kids excited about eating this hydrating veggie at home is easier done if you make the food fun. Lace cucumber hunks onto a skewer with tomatoes (another good hydration vegetable) and include a creamy dipping sauce or hummus.
Celery get's its often negative "diet food" reputation due to the fact that a stalk of celery weighs in at less than 10 calories, depending on the size. And that's because most of the vegetable is water. Beyond making it a gold-star hydration food, its high water content provide an amazing crunch. Celery ribs are ideal for spooning in different fillings, like peanut butter, cream cheese, or other additions your kids dig. A handful of celery sticks are perfect to pack in lunch boxes with the dippers in a plastic container on the side.
Obviously, watermelon has earned it's huge reputation for being hydrating--it's called watermelon, after all. Watermelon also contains a high level of lycopene--even more than tomatoes--which gives it an extra antioxidant power punch. It's sweet juiciness makes this fruit perfect to indulge in on its own, toss into a salad, or placed directly on the grill. Cut cubes (of seedless if you can find it) to pack in a plastic bowl with a fitted lid for kids to break out at snack time.
Sweet bell peppers come in an array of colors, but the green peppers are recognized as the most hydrating, as they are have the highest water content. An easy swap for you and the kids: Instead of chips, use crunchy bell pepper slices to dip into your favorite hummus or cheese dip.
No, I'm not talking about the typical sugary store-bought pops here. But if you're a fan of DIY popsicles at home (they're about the easiest summer treat you can through together and keep on-hand), you can really take the helm with great ingredients to create a kid-approved ice pop that does double duty as a secret hydration agent.
** Note: If you're serving to kids, omit the schnapps in the recipe above.
We know watermelon is a big player in the hydration game, but don't forget about cantaloupe and honeydew. Both have a very high water contents and are addictively sweet--a big hit with younger palates. Try getting the hydration train going early in the day by serving these as a part of your regular breakfast spread--you won't be able to get enough of it after topping your melon off with this savory granola. Try melon-balling these into spheres then freezing them for an especially cooling afternoon snack for the kiddos.
Even if you're not at the top of your game with downing bottle after bottle of water and/or have a tough time getting your kids there too, do your best to supplement with these and other naturally water-rich sources. After all, every little bit helps and with all of the amazing produce at our fingertips right now (hello, farmers markets), there are hydration helpers available at every meal and snack time.