Healthy Hydration for Interpreters
by: Melanie Frye, EIPA 4.1 - NIR Interpreter Coordinator
It is recommended that we all, interpreters or not, drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Other sources indicate that we should consume half of our body weight in ounces of water per day. It should be noted that different body types and people with differing levels of activity in their day will require different amounts of water.
Water serves numerous purposes in the body which include but are not limited to: flushing toxins and waste from the body, controlling body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and even maintaining or losing weight.
While soda, coffee, sports drinks, etc are also forms of hydration, are they as beneficial to the body? Most will say no due to the sugar, caffeine, and added flavors and colorings in those drinks. Limiting the intake of those drinks and increasing water should result in a better feeling overall and a higher physical productivity from your body because the body is comprised of mostly water.
How does this apply to interpreters?
It is important to remember that although it may not be listed as one of the most active professions, interpreting is extremely active. Our joints require healthy levels of hydration to keep from locking up and be able to move smoothly. Although we are not lifting heavy things with our muscles, we are demanding our muscles to make thousands of moves per minute to convey our hearing clients’ thoughts in ASL. Additionally to be able to speak and think in two languages at the same time, proper hydration is key because we all know that “dehydration fog”, if you will, when you haven’t had enough water that day. It is harder to think, focus, and process any task at hand when all you can think about is how thirsty you are.
Additionally, work environment is important to consider. Interpreters are often (depending on skin tone) wearing dark colors to contrast skin tone, and if the interpreting assignment is outside especially in a tropical climate, the sun beating down on dark colors, will cause higher levels of perspiration, which would in turn require a higher intake of water to replace hydration being lost. Colder settings would require a higher intake of calories due to shivering burning calories to attempt to keep your body warm.
If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some tips that can help (according to familydoctor.org):
- Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. To reduce your costs, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water.
- If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink
- Drink water before, during, and after a workout.
- When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. Thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight-loss plan. Some research suggests that drinking water can help you feel full.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when you go to bed. Or, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour.
- Drink water when you go to a restaurant. It will keep you hydrated, and it’s free.