If you’re a habitual dieter and love nothing better than to beat yourself up by stepping on the scales, then the number you see rising or decreasing may have nothing to do with fat levels. It could be your body is holding onto more water than it should. This is called water retention.

How do I know if I have water retention?

Water retention symptoms

  • Swollen ankles and wrists
  • Puffy fingers
  • Big red welts round your waist when you take your trousers off later in the day
  • Aching joints
  • Indentations in your skin when you press hard

Also known as oedema, it can be masking kidney or circulatory issues and you should of course consult your GP. However more often than not it is down to this simple fact.

You are not drinking enough fluid.

“Huh? Surely, if I’m swelling up like a balloon because I’m not drinking enough, why would I want to drink more water? Won’t that just take me from bulging to whopping?

No. The less water you drink the more the body is going to hang onto what it’s got and store it up. Yes, round your ankles.

Make it a goal each day to drink 3 litres of water (your hot drinks can count too, but not your caffeine) and this along with these simple steps will help flush out the issue and your calves and ankles will find a new lease of life:

  • Keep an eye on your salt intake.
  • Cut down on caffeine. 1-2 per day is best.
  • Take regular exercise… doesn’t have to be bootcamp, fast walking is brilliant for giving your internal systems a prod.
  • Don’t let yourself get constipated (flax seeds, lots of green veg).
  • Moderate your starchy carbohydrates which can encourage your body to retain water.
  • Don’t be tempted by diuretics (unless prescribed by your GP for something else).
  • Check the colour of your urine regularly… we’re talking newly mown hay rather than the flesh of a mango.

Water retention suggestionIf you’re prone to monthly swellings at the time of your period, then continue to drink water and sit tight. Accept that your clothes may feel a bit tight for a few days and avoid seeking solace in salty foods. Bread, sugary processed comfort food and bags of tortilla chips can feel like a god-send at these times. If you must succumb, then offset them by glugging water. All the time.

“But I hate water. Water’s so dull. So boring. So nothing.”

Fingers in ears. La-la-la-la-la. Add slices of cucumber, some lemon or lime, and a sprig of mint to your water bottle. Keep on filling it up. And again. And again.

Thank you for reading. Annie x

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