When you are camping with friends, what is the most common greeting that you give them? Well, should you ever camp with or around our household, the most common greeting will be “When is the last time that you had something to drink? And when was the last time that you peed?” Now this may not sound very polite to the average modern person, but to the camper dealing with larger amounts of heavy labor than they usually engage in, and those dealing with warm outside temperatures, these are very important questions. It is easy to just be working along, chatting with friends and setting up camp, and forget to drink. And even if you are drinking a considerable amount of liquid, if you don’t have to pee then your body is probably sweating the water out instead of “sending it through”.
In my every day existence I am a fairly heavy drinker of water. We live somewhere that can be quite warm and dry in the summer, and since we are off the grid, we do not have air conditioning. I also engage in a fair amount of heavy labor, as well as warm activities, such as metal casting.
In the winter we keep a cool house (we both grew up in New England and prefer cooler houses), so some percentage of time I drink hot liquids, like tea or hot chocolate. I learned a long time ago that some of my desire for “munchies” was actually a bodily call for more fluids, so drinking non-caloric liquids like water and tea (I drink mine black) solves this problem. It also forces me to get up from my chair periodically when I am writing or doing research to use the facilities.
I rarely drink sodas. They make me thirsty and I do not need the amazing number of calories that a normal soda contains. I am allergic to nutra-sweet (Aspartame) in all of its forms, and I don’t like the taste of most alcohol sugars or artificial sweeteners – they taste very “chemical” to me. This means that any soda that I drink has to be “sugared” (in most cases it is actually corn syrup). I usually save my soda use for during camp set-up when I have simply run out of steam and need a pick-me-up to be able to finish the project.
What about “sports drinks”? Medical science tells us that many of these drinks are really not very good for us – too much salt and sugar, and totally unnecessary for your average sedentary urban dweller. But we always carry some when we camp. The “wisdom” that we learned as newbies in the SCA was that if Gatorade tastes good then you need it!
In addition to liquids, it is important to consider how much salt is in your diet. The average American diet contains waaay more salt than most medical professionals recommend that we consume, but when I know that I am going to be dealing with heat and hard work I often choose snacks like salted nuts or pretzels. I sweat a lot, and I am aware of that fact. If you are leaving salt rings on your shirts you need to consider a salty snack.
I hope this brief missive helps remind you of the importance of drinking liquids the next time that you are camping or working hard.