Staying Hydrated During the Colder Months

Dehydration can happen just as easily in colder weather as it can during the summer months. It is a leading cause of injury for Soldiers.   We often don’t feel as thirsty as we do in the summer and we don’t think we are sweating as much, which can be a false perception. According to the Mayo Clinic, we can become dehydrated in the cold from sweating, breathing, and from increased urine production. Yet, fewer people recognize the signs of dehydration in the winter, so it may be even more of a risk during the winter months.


Hydration assessment during cold-weather


We must hydrate even when we are not thirsty. Note that actual fluid requirements are dependent upon the level of physical work performed, the temperature and what you are wearing and carrying.   According to one study published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, our body’s thirst response decreases by 40% in the winter time. This is due to blood vessels constricting when cold weather hits, which ultimately helps for blood to flow to the core and conserve heat. Further, fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. Drinking plenty of fluids in the cold weather is essential to providing fuel and energy to body parts to help facilitate heat production.

The Importance of overall Hydration

Water comprises about 60% of our body weight and is critical for life. Our body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. The average adult loses 1½ to 2L of water each day. Being in a cold-weather climate can add to this water loss through the increased excretion by the kidneys, perspiration, and evaporation from the lungs (the breath you see on a cold day).  It’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods with high water content.  


Drink Plenty of Fluids

Although most doctors do not recommend a one size fits all approach for water consumption, most people are fine with drinking to thirst (around 30-60 oz. per day). According to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Soldiers should drink at least two to six canteens of water each day. Water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are also a good source of water. Proper hydration is especially important in cold weather as dehydration negatively affects the body's resistance to cold weather, increasing the chance for cold weather injuries. 


Prevention is Best! How to Prevent Dehydration

You can prevent dehydration from becoming severe by taking the steps below.

  • Make sure you have a water source available with you at all times.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise is important. Match your drink to the duration of your exercise or training. Electrolytes and carbohydrates are important after longer exercise or training events.
  • Monitor symptoms closely and hydrate at the first signs of dehydration. For those who are sick, hydrating at the first sign of diarrhea, vomiting, or fever is crucial.
  • Eat plenty of fruits. Winter fruits are excellent sources of water.
  • Wear the right clothing to help reduce water loss through sweat.
  • Adding Layers to your clothing is a good idea in those cold winter months. This will allow you to adjust your clothing to match the temperature and your activity level on an as-needed basis.

People who exercise outside in extreme weather conditions are at higher risk for dehydration, such as endurance athletes and those training in the military. Extra weight from supplies and gear can accelerate dehydration. Prevention is key when it comes to dehydration. By fueling up with the right foods and drinks, and wearing the right clothing, you can dramatically reduce your risk for dehydration and help stay hydrated during those colder months.

Resources:, and

Non-Dairy Milk

Cow’s milk has been the long-reigning star of the milk world, but in recent years some other non-dairy alternatives have come to challenge the throne. 

While cow’s milk is a great source of protein and vitamin D, it can also vary widely in fat, calorie, and carb content depending on whether you’re using whole, fat free or anything in between. Additionally, milk may not be an option for those with certain types of food allergies. Enter: non-dairy milk.

Almond milk is the most well-known of the non-dairy alternatives, but it has met with some small criticism for the fact that it takes 23 gallons of water to produce an ounce of almonds. If you’re looking for a different nut-based milk, cashew milk and hazelnut milk will give you a similarly nutty flavor that works well in recipes and as a coffee creamer. However, nut-based milk substitutes are often high in calories and fat, and low in protein. These are also a no-go for anyone with nut-based food allergies. Coconut milk is nut-free, light and creamy, and low in calories, but it’s also low in protein. There are also many less well-known dairy substitutes such as Hemp Milk (made of the hemp seed) and Flax Milk, both of which are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Rice milk can be substituted 1:1 with cow’s milk in many recipes, and is the best option if you have any food allergies or are vegan. Unfortunately, rice milk has no protein and can contain lots of sugar if you don’t buy it unsweetened. Soy milk, on the other hand, has high protein and less fat than other milk substitutes, but its chalky taste and texture make some people reluctant to make the switch. Finally, a new up and comer on the scene is Quinoa milk. While it might be hard to find, it can also be substituted 1:1 in many recipes; it’s also gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. Make sure to watch the calorie count, though – quinoa milk has a higher sugar and calorie count than some other milks on the list, though still lower than cow’s milk.

There are a number of dairy-free alternatives to cow’s milk out there, and they each come with their own pros and cons. While this can be overwhelming, it’s good to consider what you’re looking for in your milk before you purchase. Are you looking for an alternative with lower carbs, fat, or calories? Are you looking for something with a protein punch? How about something that works well in recipes, or something that avoids food allergies? Check out the info-graphic above for more information on your options, and get started on choosing which milk is best for you.

News Roundup: New Year

With 2018 underway, many people's New Year's Resolutions focus around improving health and well-being. 

Unfortunately, although many people start strong, by the time the next New Year rolls they’re back to the same resolution. Burn out on your resolution is as frequent as it is frustrating. 

This week’s news roundup focuses on ways to set (and keep!) realistic resolutions, while also making sure you don’t let the challenge of maintaining a resolution keep you from trying.

How to make a New Year’s resolution that will actually work. THE WASHINGTON POST. “The most common mistakes people make are a mix of the following: 1. Their goals are extreme and lead to an unsustainable plan. 2. They set a lofty resolution without making a plan to create the new behaviors they will need to carry it out. 3. They act because someone is nagging at them, or they feel they ought to make a resolution but don’t really want to.”

New Year’s resolutions: How do you make one you will keep? BBC NEWS. “There is evidence that humans are driven by "loss aversion" - that is, we are more motivated to recover loss than we are to win gains. Framing a resolution as recovering something lost - whether that's an old hobby or a former level of fitness - may be more effective than looking to gain an ability or appearance, for example.”

How Achievable the 6 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions Really Are. HUFFINGTON POST. “Most people want to go from not taking any action to immediate results, which is unrealistic. Good habits are best built upon one another in small, easily achievable steps”

The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions. THE NEW YORK TIMES. “If using willpower to keep your nose to the grindstone feels like a struggle, that’s because it is. Your mind is fighting against itself. It’s trying to convince, cajole and, if that fails, suppress a desire for immediate pleasure. Given self-control’s importance for success, it seems as if evolution should have provided us with a tool for it that was less excruciating to use.”

Why I Don’t Feel Bad About Already Breaking My New Year’s Resolution. TIME. “Instead of confining yourself to a certain set of 365 days, focus on working on your goal whenever you can, whether that’s in January or the third week in July. There’s no wrong time to start making yourself a better, healthier person.”

Holiday News Roundup

From now until New Year's Day, your schedule will likely be filled with family obligations, traveling, and Holiday parties, all of which could present you with temptations that take you away from your health and fitness routines. It is important to sustain your health and physical activity throughout the holiday season, as it could be your best defense against the stress and chaos that can crop up this time of the year.

This week’s news roundup brings you a collection of articles and blog posts with tips on how to stay fit and healthy over the upcoming Holidays.

Eating and Fitness Hacks for the Holiday Season. The Huffington Post "You might love hour-long workouts at the gym or a one-and-half-hour yoga classes, but squeezing either activity into an already full schedule can be hard, especially with the added demands of the holiday season. Rather than skip working out altogether, redefine your workout."

Stay fit during holidays. "Intensify your workout: Time is always in short supply during the holidays. But don't ditch the workout -- just bump up the intensity if you need to shorten the time. If you usually walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes, do 15 minutes of higher intensity intervals. If going to the gym is cutting into shopping time, use shopping as a workout -- use the stairs, park farther away, walk faster and after a purchase take it to the car."

5 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holiday Season. "If a crazy social calendar means I can’t fit in my usual workout, I don’t just write the day off completely. I still try to walk as much as I can, take the stairs whenever possible, and fit in mini workouts with moves like lunges, squats, and triceps dips wherever I can find a private space."

8 Secrets to Staying Fit During the Holidays. U.S. News & World Report ""In addition to staying active, try to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as when watching football games or eating. Remember: Too much sitting is hazardous to your health. Research shows that getting up for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes and performing light activity (say, pacing around the house or performing simple squat exercises) reduces the risk of diabetes and other heart disease risk factors."


How Therapy Can Cure Overeating

We all have certain foods that we would call a “favorite”. We may find that it is difficult to stick to a standard portion with some of these favorite foods. We have all experienced “overeating”. However, for some of us, overeating food in general (not just our favorites) may be a daily struggle. Situations like this often require us to get help to be able to better manage food intake.

There has been a lot of research to help determine what types of interventions/programs help best when it comes to dealing with overeating.  There is a set of criteria that is used to determine severity of a person’s eating difficulties. Some of us have a healthy relationship with food, some of us overeat from time to time, and some of us may struggle with eating disorders, including Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

BED is an eating disorder characterized by frequent consumption of unusually large amounts of food in a small timeframe along with a feeling of being unable to stop eating. Not everyone who overeats has BED. Regardless, both overeating and BED can be successfully helped with various therapeutic techniques.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be one of the most effective types of therapy for treating BED.  This type of therapy is aimed at identifying and changing patterns of thinking and behaviors that may be contributing to the struggle with binge eating. An official diagnosis of BED is not necessary to seek help. Treatment for overeating and binge eating is available and is helpful to those who seek it out. So, for those of us who feel that overeating is something bigger than an occasional indulgence of a favorite food...there are options for getting help which if pursued may lend itself to treatment of a real struggle and improvement of quality of life.

The National Eating Disorders Association Helpline (1-800-931-2237) is a hotline dedicated to offering support, information, referrals, and guidance to those suffering from an eating disorder. If you or someone you know is currently in need of immediate assistance, please call this confidential hotline toll-free Monday-Thursday from 9am-9pm and Friday from 9am-5pm (EST).