Last Friday I had a free, 15-minute nutritional assessment with the new Registered Dietitian at work. She had been at the Field Day a few weeks back, raffling off nutritional counseling to one lucky person, and that person wasn’t me. However, she did offer me the aforementioned free short session, and I figured why not? I had seen a nutritionist about 7 years ago after a blood test had sent up red flags regarding my cholesterol levels, and I was curious to see if this RD had anything new or different to say.
Since it was only a 15-minute session there wasn’t time for any in-depth assessing, so she analyzed my previous day’s food intake and scored it out of a possible 40 points. I was pretty proud of what I had eaten the day before… a giant salad for lunch with beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, Craisins, and mushrooms; chicken with angel hair pasta, tomatoes, and garlic; and no soda consumed whatsoever. I figured I was good… until she showed me my score.
Out of a possible 40 points, I had scored 5. 5!! All because of a cheeky Snickers bar in the afternoon, the fact that the chicken was fried (in olive oil and not breaded, but still), and the pasta. Oh, and because I had consumed an inadequate amount of water. My 15-minute nutritional assessment essentially told me that I was a giant failure. (And this based on a day when I was proud of what I ate! Geez, I don’t think I want to know the score for an average day…)
[In my defense, I eat MUCH healthier than I used to. Back when all the cholesterol-related red flags were flying high, I was living on a diet of giant Dunkies muffins, mac & cheese, cereal, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Pop Tarts, coffee and soda, and burgers from Wendy’s… and that’s pretty much it. Plus I wasn’t exercising much. Recipe for disaster, that. After seeing the nutritionist 7 years ago, I switched from white bread to wheat, from Lucky Charms to Shredded Mini-Wheats (frosted) or Kashi, and even gave whole wheat pasta a (very, very short) whirl. However, my dinners still consisted of cereal and tea, with an occasional tuna fish sandwich or mac & cheese thrown in. Drew has been an amazing influence in my life because he loves to cook, and has taught me that I’m capable of making healthier meals for myself. That on top of running, playing soccer, and making myself walk more, and my red flags are no longer flying so high!]
Luckily, the RD didn’t just shake a giant finger of shame in my face when she gave me a 5. Being excellent at what she does, she worked with me to come up with some solutions for better eating. They were:
- Pick snacks with good fats – opt for trail mixes or nuts instead of candy bars.
- Related, plan out snacks so that I’m not finding myself strolling by the vending machines when afternoon hunger strikes. Pack a bag of nuts or seeds so that I’ll have a healthy option. If I have to have chocolate, buy a bag of bite-sized bars and have one of those with the healthy snack, or pick a trail mix that includes chocolate chips.
- Limit my pasta intake [nevarrrr!] or switch to whole wheat pasta. (When I made a face at the mention of whole wheat, she suggested making meals with half whole wheat and half regular.)
- Drink! More! Water! Preferably 1 liter before lunch and 1 liter after.
Ah yes, the water conundrum. I’m terrible at drinking water. Terrible. Unless I’m running or playing soccer or otherwise engaging in some activity that makes me thirsty, I just don’t want to drink water. Partly, unless I’m thirsty I don’t really think about it. Drinking water is not a priority in my messed-up brain. And partly, I hate the way water tastes. [SO many people, upon hearing me say that, say, “But water doesn’t have a taste!” Yes it does! It tastes like water, which is gross. And some waters taste more gross than others. MWRA tap water tastes so many kinds of better than Worcester tap water, for example, just like the water from the cooler in the staff room at work tastes better than water from the cooler on the mezzanine where my cube is. Water definitely has a taste.]
I’ve tried so many things to be better at drinking water. I buy Vitamin Water (or other flavored “water beverages”) because it tastes better than plain water, but it’s full of sugar so I try not to go overboard. I don’t drink the 0 calorie flavored waters because I also hate the taste of aspartame and Stevia and all those other fake sugars. Polar (and other brands) offers wide ranges of flavored sparkling water that have no sugar or fake sugar, but I also hate the taste of sparkling water. (I’m a tough customer!) I’ll happily drink juice, but that’s also full of sugar.
You’d think that, with all those factors in mind, I’d default to just drinking water, right? Well… no. I tend to default to drinking nothing, which is bad. Or soda, or multiple cups of coffee/iced coffee throughout the day, which is also bad. I’ve tried the “water enhancers” like Mio, but I have yet to find one that doesn’t have aspartame. I’ve bought who knows how many different kinds of water bottles to try to trick myself into thinking that drinking water is fun. I had a Sigg, a generic Sigg, a tiny (“more manageable”) plastic one with a built-in straw from Target, a Nathan, one of the ones that has an infuser insert thing so you can make your water taste like fruit, one made of glass… the list goes on. None have been the magical silver bullet that makes me a hydration machine.
I regaled the RD with my tale of water-drinking woe, and she made some suggestions that actually sounded doable for me – something I wasn’t expecting! They were:
- Make sure to use a cup or bottle that has a straw, since that tends to make it easier for iced coffee addicts like me who are used to sipping steadily away at straws.
- Make a habit of taking a few sips of water whenever I pass a bubbler at work. Or, make a habit of drinking a cup or partial cup any time I pass a water cooler. Start out small with sips and work my way up to more substantial amounts.
- Bribe myself: Make myself drink one cup of water before drinking my morning coffee.
They’re all worth a shot, I think… hopefully I can get better at this whole water-drinking thing! I’ll have to see if I can keep these habits first…
Do you struggle with drinking enough water? Do you have any tricks you use to stay hydrated?