By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES

Everyone knows the benefits of drinking water. It helps to fuel your muscles, keeps you alert, maintains skin tone, and aids digestion. Aiming for at least 8 cups of water a day is a general goal – but you may need less if you eat plenty of fruits and veggies, since they contain a good amount of water. For many people, moving away from sugary soft drinks and fruit juices is an important first step for successfully managing weight. If you feel bored drinking plain water – start exploring the vast sea of possibilities when it comes to drinking flavored infused waters. Still or Sparkling. Ready to drink or Do it yourself. Follow a recipe or just experiment! The choices are endless.

Still or Sparkling?

Personally, I like both. Keep yourself open to all possibilities. Consider purchasing a water carbonator (like SodaStream) to add fizz to your own tap water. It will save you money (and help the planet with fewer can & bottles!) Also, sipping hot flavored water is a nice alternative to tea on a cold day.

Ready-to-drink or do-it-yourself?

There are so many choices it can be overwhelming. There are several brands listed below, as well as ideas for making your own flavored water. Flavor choices can range from the ordinary (lemon, lime, grapefruit) to the exotic (ginger-lime, kiwi, strawberry). Check the labels of any flavored water you purchase carefully to see if they contain any sugar. Even though you may not see the word “sugar” or “sucrose” on the label, flavored waters often add a low-calorie sweetener. While the drink may still be sugar-free, some people may experience a slight stomach upset (gas, diarrhea) if they drink too much, so check for words like “erythritol” or “sucralose” which may have been added to give your drink a sweeter taste.

Special equipment?

There are a variety of specially designed water bottles and pitchers that you can buy so you can easily make flavored waters. A small chamber in the center holds the flavorings. Just add water – and let sit for at least an hour. It’s also easy to find recipes for infused waters for pressure cookers (aka “Instant Pot”). If these are handy or make it more convenient for you – use them! But know, they are not necessary. Adding sliced fruit or cucumber to a pitcher of tap water and putting it in your fridge works just fine too!

How do I do it?

While you can easily find recipes online, it really as easy as using up what’s in your fridge! Check the list of suggested combos for some popular flavor ideas.

• Start with very cold sparkling or still water.

• As a general guide, fruit that is very ripe has the most flavor. It’s a great way to use up fruit that may be about to spoil.

• Frozen fruit works well too!

• Experiment with amounts. If you’re just filling 16-24 oz water bottle, a few slices of lemon, cucumber, a couple of frozen strawberries might be all you need. If you’re filling a large pitcher, you might use up to a cup of fruit.

• Adding fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary, thyme) can be wonderful – but you only need a small amount for a big flavor burst. Crush them a little before adding to enhance the taste. A small chunk of fresh ginger or a small piece of a cinnamon stick is also tasty.

• The longer the fruit sits, the better. Let it sit at least 30 minutes – but aim to drink it within the day you make it.

• Refill the container with water 2-3 more times as you’ll still be able to extract more flavor.

• If you make a very concentrated batch (as you would if you were using a pressure cooker) – just add about 2 Tbsp to your water. Or, freeze the liquid in ice cube tray containers – and then add one to a glass of still or sparkling water for a boost of flavor.

• Once you’re done with the fruit and flavorings – compost them.

Ready-to-Drink Options

·       Nestle’ Splash

·       Sparkling ICE

·       Glaceau Fruit Water

·       Aquafina Flavor Splash

·       Bai

·       Hint

·       House Brands (such as Wegman’s) Flavored Sparkling Water

Make Your Own Flavor Ideas

·       Lemon and Lime

·       Strawberry, lemon and basil

·       Watermelon and mint

·       Apple and cinnamon stick (just a small piece!)

·       Cucumber, lemon and mint

·       Mango and ginger

·       Blueberry, lemon and thyme

·       Raspberry and kiwi

While this article provides guidance related to healthy eating, it’s important to stress that for many people, diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to reach a healthier weight. The good news is that there are safe and effective medical treatments available that can address the biological issues that make sustained weight loss difficult. To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.

To sign up for our free online class that covers the basics of how to reach a healthier weight, click here.

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