How To Eat Everything At A Cookout And Stay Hydrated

It's a bit wild that in the dog days of summer, the first thing we think to do is stand over a hot grill and cook up a spread of hot, salty foods when we ourselves are, frankly, a little too hot and a little too salty. Cookouts can be a lot of fun, but it's easy to get dehydrated when standing outside all afternoon in the sun, trying to catch a nice buzz without catching a sunburn. So here are some things to keep in mind the next time you feel the heat starting to get to you.

The first obvious tip for staying hydrated is to drink water. But how much should you drink, and how can you make yourself remember to drink enough? If you're not a dedicated Stanley water bottle fan lugging your massive tank of H2O around with you, you're going to have to resort to some other tricks.

Slow and steady

Make sure you have plenty of cold water on hand since you'll be more willing to hydrate if your glass hasn't become lukewarm from sitting out in the sun all day. Disposable water bottles in a cooler will work in a pinch, but if you want to cut down on your plastic use, an insulated bottle filled with ice water should stay cold for several hours. Try spicing up your water as well to make it more interesting and desirable. A squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of bitters will make your eight ounces feel more like a treat than a punishment. Electrolyte beverages like gatorade or electrolyte powder are also good at locking in that hydration. (Fun fact: pickle juice is a great natural source of electrolytes if you feel like going hardcore on that leftover juice from the burger pickles at your cookout.)

The CDC recommends drinking nearly a quart of water per hour during physical activity outside on a hot day. Just remember that you don't want to chug a bunch of water all at once, but instead sip it consistently throughout the day so your body has time to process it.

Other ways to stay hydrated

You don't just want to make sure you're drinking water, though. You also want to eat foods that have a high water content, like fresh fruit and vegetables. There's a reason why watermelon is the perfect barbecue food: It's 92% water, making it an ideal way to stay hydrated. You can even turn it into an agua fresca to keep yourself hydrated or use water-rich produce like cantaloupe, cucumber, or pineapple.

Another dangerous part of cookouts is that people usually drink alcohol at them, which can be a recipe for disaster on a hot day. If you are going to drink, opt for low-ABV beverages with a lot of water or ice. Something like a wine spritzer or light beer would work well for this, as would a punch or spiked agua fresca. Or maybe you want to opt for a CBD-infused soda instead of booze, which will chill you out without drying you out. Make sure to pace yourself when drinking, and follow each drink with a full glass of water or bottle of Gatorade.