Drink More Water through Sensory Adaptation

drinking waterToday while reviewing the kaizen theory of making small changes with a client, in this case to reduce the amount of sugar she puts in her coffee, she stated that the first cup of the morning is always the most difficult. She reported that if she is able to drink the first cup with less sugar, the rest of the coffee that she has that day goes down much more easily. This makes sense because coffee is one of those things that is an “acquired taste;” however, she said the same thing was true for drinking water. If she worked out earlier in the day, she would drink water throughout the day, put down the coffee, and not pick up any more calorie-laden beverages.

The phenomenon which she is describing took me all the way back to Intro to Psych in undergrad. Sensory Adaptation is the tendency for sensory receptors to have decreasing responsiveness to stimuli that continue without change. This is why you stop smelling your own perfume or cologne, or those in the city get used to the sound of traffic. It also applies when eating; you get less and less pleasure from every bite of a food following the first bite, the introduction to a new flavor.

You can remember this phenomenon to remind yourself that the large bowl is not going to be more goodness, but rather more of something that is losing goodness, and manage your portion sizes. However, there is a positive spin to this phenomenon as well. Like my client, you can use it when you are trying to have less of something or more of something in your diet. Just start and see if it gets easier (Let us know how it goes!). Especially, if you are busy with other things, you will likely be able to drink more and more water, noticing it less and less.

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