Good food routine #2

Control your liquids and switch from salt to herbs and spices

It is very important that you keep your liquid intake under control, simply because liquids are being retained by your body. The excess amount of liquids can have negative effects on your health like hypertension, heart problems, and difficulty in breathing.

So how much can I drink every day?

The amount of liquids you need daily has to be determined by your doctor. Usually this means 0.5 litres plus your remaining urine excretion (over 24 hours). Remember that what you need to count as liquids are not only drinks like water, coffee, tea or milk, but also food that is liquid at room temperature, such as drinking yoghurt, ice cream or soups.

But what can I do to control my liquid intake?

Drinking very low quantities is clearly one of the most difficult changes in your nutrition. An easy way to keep track of your liquid intake is to take a bottle of water containing your complete daily liquid allowance along during the day. Or when sitting at the dinner table, simply use smaller glasses to trick your mind!

And what can I do if I get thirsty?

There are many good tips and tricks on how to lower your thirst. One very effective method is to simply rinse your mouth or to gargle with lukewarm water. And up to 4 times a day, you can also put a half slice of lemon in your mouth – it will create a refreshed sensation!

If controlling your fluid intake is a big issue for you, another way to reduce thirst is to use sugar free gum. And on very hot days, you can prepare ice cubes with droplets of lemon or other sour fruit.

Do I need to avoid salt because I would get thirsty?

That’s one part of the problem, yes. Salt binds water, and when you consume salt, your body “asks” for liquids as a consequence. Salt accumulates in your body, leading to severe health problems like high blood pressure, and even strokes. Salt substitutes or low sodium salts should be avoided too. Most of these substitutes contain a lot of potassium – high levels of this substance are also very harmful (see Good Food Routine #3 to learn more about potassium).

Hm. But most food tastes really bland without salt…

True, in our culture salt is a very commonly used condiment. But in other parts of the world, salt is hardly used at all. In these cultures, herbs and spices are used instead. And of course there is no reason why we couldn’t do this too.

So how can I add flavour to my meals?

Start substituting salt with flavours like garlic, onion, celery, or a bit of vinegar, and use herbs like chives, parsley, oregano, thyme, etc. You will increase the taste sensation, and decrease the risk of health problems immensely. Just leave out intense spices like chilli and pepper – they also increase the sensation of thirst.

One more suggestion: avoid ready-made processed foods – they usually contain more salt than you should consume.


  • keep your fluid intake controlled: usually about 0.5 litres/day
  • salt binds water, try to keep your consumption low
  • stay away from salt substitutes
  • use herbs and spices to replace salt, but be careful with hot spices
  • fight thirst by gargling with lukewarm water
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