I know you’re probably sick of thinking about it, but this 2018 weather has been all over the board. For as cold of a “spring” we had here in St. Louis, we got what we asked for – summer HEAT complete with nice, thick air. And when things get this hot, there are many subconscious adjustments we make in order to cope with longer days, the bright sun – and for some of us – the unavoidable work outdoors. As the dietitian for Executive Dining, I have recently had many conversations with employees seeking ways to best stay hydrated and fuel while working in settings that aren’t inside comfortable air conditioned offices. Based on these discussions with employees and with the upcoming outdoor festivities, I thought I’d share some of my own tips for working and playing in this summer heat.
- On a an average, daily intake of recommended water is 6-8 glasses per day, but this increases in hot conditions due to extra sweat and methods to keep cool. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that workers should drink 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. If this seems like a daunting task to do during the workday, consider setting alarm reminders on your watch or phone. Another way to help you increase water intake is to flavor your water with fruits or vegetables. Here are some recipes for infused water that can make drinking water a little more flavorful!
- Cut back on sugary beverages such as sodas, juice beverages, sweet tea and lemonades. Sports drinks, while they can help replenish electrolytes also have high amounts of “sneaky” sugar and should be limited or diluted with water if you choose to drink them.
- Water-rich foods can help you hydrate your cells and keep your body temperature cool. Fruits such as berries, apples, grapes and melons are all excellent sources of foods high in water percentage. Water-rich vegetables include cucumbers, celery, carrots, and broccoli. Enjoy them with this fun dip recipe borrowed from other registered dietitians like this lemon hummus or avocado dip.
- Whole grains such as oats, quinoa and brown rice. Whole grains contain higher amounts of magnesium than other foods which is an excellent micronutrient that helps regulate body temperature.
- If you find yourself snacking from vending machines or quick-stops, try finding a piece of whole fruit, whole grain crackers, or foods with simple, whole grain ingredients such as Boom Chicka Pop (sold in our cafes) to satisfy your hunger while keeping your hydration and energy stable.
- Try limiting spicier foods on a hot work day that have the tendency to cause us to sweat or require even more thirst for water.
- Take it easy on high protein foods such as meat. Protein requires more work for our body to digest and therefore can be more difficult in high temperatures.
Most of all – listen to your body. Staying hydrated is so important, especially when we are outside during this summer heat. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and take breaks out of the heat and away from the sun.