By Julie Hutter, RD, CDE
You may have been asked by your health care team to limit your fluid intake*, particularly if you receive dialysis treatments or have congestive heart failure, which takes time and planning to achieve success. Add summer heat and outdoor activities into the equation, and managing thirst and fluid intake can provide an additional challenge.
As a reminder, we consider anything that is a liquid at room temperature as a fluid. This includes coffee, tea, water, juice, soda, popsicles, ice cream, jello, soup, liquid nutrition supplements and ice.
With summer weather, we can find ourselves thirstier than during the colder months of the year. Managing our thirst and fluid intake supports the management of:
-shortness of breath
-edema (swelling) to hands and feet
-the amount of fluid removed during dialysis, if receiving dialysis treatment
Our thirst is also impacted by other factors such as:
- High sodium/salt intake
Excess intake of sodium from added salt, processed foods and restaurant meals increases your thirst, making it extremely difficult to limit your fluid intake.
To lower your sodium intake:
- Avoid using salt in cooking or at the table
- Decrease your frequency of eating out at restaurants, choosing to eat homecooked meals more often
- Limit the use of processed, canned and packaged foods
- Keep your sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg a day
- Look at the nutrition label, choose foods with less than 10% of the daily recommended intake of sodium
- High blood sugar levels if you have diabetes
Work with your diabetes and health care team to manage your blood sugars within target. High blood sugars increase thirst, often leading to drinking more fluid than recommended.
- Drinking high sugar beverages
The best fluid choice for your kidneys is water. Limit your intake of sweet beverages like juice and pop as these can lead to elevated blood sugars and overall increased thirst.
To quench your thirst while managing your fluid intake, try these refreshing beverage ideas:
- Choose beverages that help to satisfy our thirst such as those containing citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes. The tartness from lemons and limes stimulates saliva production, to help relieve a dry mouth.
- Add sliced fruit, vegetables, and herbs to water, to enjoy flavorful sugar-free beverages. Mint is a great herb to use in water, as it provides a cooling sensation and can refresh your mouth.
- Drink beverages ice cold, to help keep you cool during the warm months. This could include adding frozen fruit or ice to your drink, ensuring beverages are well-chilled prior to drinking, or having blended drinks.
- Use flavored ice. You can make flavored ice by freezing homemade lemonade (see recipe above), no added-sugar juice or tea in an ice cube tray. These flavored ice cubes can then be enjoyed on their own, or added to sparkling water for added flavoring.
For more tips, see our blog post: Beating the Heat on a Fluid Restriction.
* If you are unsure if you should restrict your fluid intake, please speak to your health care team.