Hydration is critical, especially in the summer when we're all running around in the heat. Kids, in particular, need to be watched.
Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, lethargy, muscle cramps and irritableness. More severe cases may lead to shock and require medical attention.
So how do you keep your kids safe when the temps go up? Family Fitness Expert Sarah Clachar of FitFamilyTogether.com has some great tips!
1. We're usually dehydrated before we feel thirsty. So it's important to make hydration a routine with your kids, not only based on how they feel. On really hot days, set a timer and make sure everyone gets an hourly drink. Also, find other ways to incorporate drink breaks into your usual routine and take on the job of reminding your kids to drink. They won't drink enough instinctively.
One way to keep track if you're drinking enough is to monitor your pee. If your pee is dark yellow and you're not peeing that much, you're probably not getting in enough liquid. Fascinated with all things potty-related, little kids can really get into giving a pee report and looking at it with you. Then, if you collectively decide it could be a little lighter, go get a drink together!
2. In our snack-oriented culture, we also often confuse hunger with thirst. Sometimes when your kids want a snack, they actually may really need a drink instead. Keep track of how much they're eating and if they're getting enough food, suggest a drink instead.
3. Too often kids hydrate with sweet liquids such as soda, sports drinks or fruit juices. This means that along with drinking more often, kids consume more calories (mostly from sugar).
The key is to get your kids to go for the water instead of sports drinks and fruit juices. If H20 is simply not-2-good in your children's eyes, GALTime nutritionist Elisa Zied has some tips.
To ease the transition, add a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange to plain water.
You can also take 100% fruit juices and water them down, shifting your children's taste buds away from the super sweet. Zied adds, "If you fill an 8-ounce cup halfway with club soda or seltzer and fill the other half with 100% fruit juice such as orange, grape or cranberry, your kids will think they're drinking soda, but they'll avoid all those calories from added sugars and boost their intake of nutrients such as Vitamin C."
Zied notes, however, that most kids should take in no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) of fruit juice per day (teens can go up to about 12 ounces/day since their calorie needs exceed those of younger children.)
4. Hydration also means replacing electrolytes - minerals like sodium. Sometimes, people go overboard, downing the Gatorade when they haven't sweated that much. That can put too much salt in your body, not to mention a lot of added sugar. You can replace your electrolytes through a healthy diet.