Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Tanya,

Coffee. One word and I’m all ears. I feel like coffee is my daily fuel, without it I’m not able to function. However, I definitely abuse it. I can drink numerous cups of coffee throughout the day and then “forget” to drink water. Help! I can go on days without drinking water. Can coffee be counted as water? If not, do you have any strategies?


I love coffee too, especially when I have long days (which is mostly every day) at work. Dehydration is one of the most common, but least recognized, health problems. Most people find it hard to consume sufficient amounts of water on an everyday basis. Our bodies require adequate amounts of water everyday to function, and the requirements increase during exercise, when we are ill or in hot weather. Many people think that they are getting enough fluids by drinking coffee, tea, soft drinks, juice or beer. The truth is, many of these drinks have a diuretic effect, encouraging the body to excrete water through urination, rather than retaining it.

When you start drinking more water, be patient and increase it gradually! If you normally drink zero cups a day, don’t flood your body with sudden large amounts of water. Rather, increase your water intake gradually to get the benefits.

So how can you drink enough water? Here are a number of strategies for you to consider and implement:

Determine how many glasses/ounces you need – individual water requirements depend on person’s weight, age, state of health, gender, temperature/ season, levels of activity and foods eaten. The “standard” advice about eight glasses of water a day is not based on science; however, it has stuck as an urban nutrition myth, possibly because it’s easy to remember.

Consider your water source – not all drinking water is created equal. Water tastes differently depending on its source, and you might have to try a number of options before you find one you like. Tap water can be especially hard to drink because of its taste and smell. Find sources of water you really like (filtered, spring, crystal light, vitamin water zero) and stick with it! (I happen to love Smart Water.)

Always keep water near you – it’s a great way to make sure you drink it. The more you resort to drinking it in place of other liquids, the better it will taste. I also find that it’s much easier to drink from a big water bottle then drinking a bunch of small ones. Purchase a water bottle that holds the amount of water you wish to drink each day! (There are some great ones in our office).

Learn about the benefits of drinking water – the more you know about why water is good for you, the stronger your desire will become to drink it, and the more enjoyable it will be. Water flushes out toxins from our bodies and helps our body function properly. Another factor to consider is the loss of water. Urine, waste elimination, sweat, tears, and breathing cause us to lose water all the time. Therefore water needs to be replenished on a consistent basis.

Back to coffee. Consuming caffeine in any form – in coffee, soft drinks, strong tea or in over-the-counter stimulant pills – actually depletes water from your body. You need to drink an extra glass of water (in addition to your daily requirement) per each cup of beverage with caffeine.

So have your cup of coffee and enjoy it, with an extra glass of water that is!


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Tanya Rosen is the co-owner of Shape Fitness in Flatbush. She is a certified nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and aerobics instructor, and is the creator of the SHAPE FITNESS KOSHER WORKOUTS DVD, available in Judaica stores or online at