Dressing Up Your Water
It’s been three years now since I gave up drinking soft drinks… and I still miss it at times. But, I have to say I genuinely enjoy drinking water. I really like the refreshment of an ice cold glass of water, but when I talk to others about changing eating habits, one of the most frequent complaints I hear is “I don’t like drinking water”.
On a certain level, I do get it. For most of my life, Coca-Cola was my beverage of first choice, but giving up (or even just reducing) drinking soft drinks in favor of water doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor. You’re not stuck with simply drinking a “flavorless” clear liquid, there are so many options out there that I thought I would share a few of my favorites.
Now the obvious option are those powder mixes that come in packets made to be carried around with you, ready to flavor a bottle of water any time you need. Crystal Lite is probably the most well known, but just about every beverage company has some form of these around. They’re nice, though they can get a bit pricey. Also, after being off soft-drinks for so long, even these have gotten a bit sweet for me, so when I use one I tend to use about half a packet per 16 or 20 oz bottle of water. I usually have some of the Lipton Tea packets around, some of their green tea flavors are really good. One problem with these for some though, is their use of artificial sweeteners. I’ve personally been reducing my use of them in general, so my use of these drink mixes has gone down quite a bit. Crystal Lite is making some flavors using stevia as a sweetener, so that’s good, but they’re also charging more for them.
I do buy the instant iced tea powder – but for some reason just plain, unsweetened, instant tea is getting harder and harder to find. There’s usually some options for flavored ones, both with sugar or again with some sort of artificial sweeteners. These are good options, especially if you’re filling your own bottles at home, and since they’re bulk packages can be less expensive than the individual packages. I would keep a small container of this with me at work for refilling my water bottle throughout the day. If you’re concerned about caffeine at all, you can sometimes time de-caf options.
You can also brew tea at home, be it black or herbals, and make your own iced tea. Brew it strong, store in the fridge, then mix with ice and water in your own water bottle or glass when you’re ready to drink. A tea I’ve been drinking both hot and iced lately is rooibos – a red tea that’s naturally caffeine free. I’m not always a huge fan of herbals, so this gives me a taste similar to a black tea without the caffeine. And with summer coming up, don’t forget about sun-tea as a great option.
A lot of people like to go simple, a squeeze from a wedge of lemon or lime in their water gives just a touch of refreshing flavor. I love this too… but carrying lemon wedges around with you isn’t very convenient. I found a product a while back that I’ve been using more and more lately – True Lemon. True Lemon is “crystallized” lemon. I don’t know if it’s dehydrated or freeze dried or what. But think of instant coffee, but it’s lemon juice. Each packet is equal to a “wedge” of lemon. they’re in packets about the size of a restaurant sugar packet, easy to carry a few around with you. And now they also have True Lime and True Orange as well. And actually I think I’ve been favoring the orange over the others lately. You can find them in some grocery stores or order online, and if you sign up for their promotional emails you’ll often get notices of discounts on product and shipping and sometimes both. You can even request some free samples! Who doesn’t love free stuff? (update: the link no longer seems to be working… sorry)
Something else I’ve been doing on occasion is buying some of the flavored tonic or carbonated waters and mixing a few ounces of those in to my glass of regular ice water. This has given me some great flavor options, my favorite being black cherry, as well as just a touch of fizz that I miss from when I drank soda. These aren’t sodas, they’re carbonated water with flavorings, no calories.
Another one you may have heard of is slicing cucumbers in to a pitcher of water to make add a refreshing flavor – honestly, this didn’t do much for me… but you might love it. Once the fresh fruit starts showing up this year, I do want to experiment with using other fruits to flavor my water, especially some strawberries. And I suppose you could just slice up lemons, limes, oranges or whatever. If you do this though, I would recommend buying organic fruits so you’re not soaking fruits with pesticides in your water.
You can even get various “infusers” to use for this. There’s a pitcher with the infuser built in to the lid, or you can get a separate infuser ball – sort an overgrown tea infuser – to use with what ever pitcher you already have. I suppose they can make it easier to remove the fruit when you’re done.
So there… this should be more than enough ideas to get you started on drinking more water. You don’t have to go cold-turkey in cutting out the soda like I did, start with a simple goal of swapping out just one or two of those soft drinks with some water and build from there…. and I bet before long, you’ll find out can really enjoy the water you drink each day.
And if you’ve got your own favorite flavoring ideas, be sure to share them in the comments!