Nutritional Therapist, Marissa, discusses the importance of a healthy relationship with water and hydration…
Eating disorder sufferers can have a complicated relationship with consuming liquids, and drinking water is no exception.
Sometimes sufferers take to glugging down liquid to reach a certain fixed amount (or number of glasses) that their eating disorder tells them they need – regardless of their thirst or physical needs. Otherwise, they can drink much more than necessary to quell hunger, or drink to help promote a bowel movement.
Others restrict water for fear it increases their weight or bloats them. Or simply because they find it very difficult to nourish and take care of themselves in a loving way.
Alongside restricting water or drinking too much of it, there are often additional issues related to drinking too many diet or caffeinated drinks. An unhealthy relationship with these types of drinks denies you the pleasure of a lovely morning coffee or a fun can of lemonade with friends.
In hot weather, pure water consumption if vital for physical wellbeing. If you are dehydrated, you will find it hard to concentrate, remember things, and focus on everyday tasks. You might have dry skin, cracked lips, dizziness, headaches, fatigue and your urine may be oddly dark. Thinking more long-term, by not drinking enough, you increase the likelihood of constipation. In the worst cases, it can lead to kidney issues and even death.
Over-hydration is no better but it takes a lot to drink too much. Be conscious of how much you’re drinking, and notice any headaches or disorientation.
Either way, it is vital to be aware of whether you are under or over-drinking. Sometimes with an eating disorder, the body can shut down so one cannot feel thirst like usual.
Some helpful tips:
- Always keep a water bottle with you on your commute.
- Drink water throughout the day, and don’t just rely on downing a large amount at the end of the day.
- Be conscious of air-conditioning: hot weather and air travel can be dehydrating
- If you are vomiting, exercising or using laxatives, it is even more important to take your electrolytes (even on ‘good days’) to help you rehydrate
- Feel free to have other drinks but remember that nothing hydrates you as well as pure water so don’t purely rely on herbal teas, caffeine drinks or juices
- When drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks, have a glass of water with every drink
- If you are drinking diet soft drinks to suppress hunger, this needs to be talked about and challenged
- Talk to your nutritional therapist about how much you should be drinking as this really depends on who you are, your eating, any eating disordered behaviours, and your exercise
- Keep trying to listen and honour your body. Your body knows best, and it’s important to be as intuitive as possible