This morning I was scrolling through the news when a headline stopped me dead in my sedentary tracks. I clicked in and read, eyes crazed.
“[C]ontrary to [past] recommendations and the so-called 8×8 rule,” reported Medical News Today, referring to the sacred human tradition of forcing/shaming ourselves into guzzling eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day regardless of our bodily cues, “the new study suggests we should only drink when we are thirsty, after discovering a mechanism that makes drinking excess water challenging.”
The article goes on to describe a scientific study wherein participants’ brains were monitored when they drank out of thirst versus rule-abiding discipline. The results, which showed an uptick in activity in the prefrontal cortex during the latter, indicated to scientists that maybe our brains don’t really want to drink if we aren’t parched.
Wait just a minute. Does this mean our bodies might actually know what they need based on five to seven million years of evolution? That we may actually know more than the health magazine covers that shout rules at us in grocery aisles? This is bad news for those of us who chug literal gallons of water as a behavior foil to other unhealthy habits like sitting all day and binge-eating Low-Fat Wheat Thins™. But it’s also good news for, well, just fucking trusting ourselves every once in a while.
I’m not completely kidding that this news had me shook for a minute. I didn’t call my family but I did text three different people, which is the same number of people I texted when Kim K snapped that video of Taylor Swift’s phone call with Kanye. (Sidebar: Who am I?) I do recognize the absurdity of my surprise. Science says we should drink when we’re thirsty. The idea that this is revelatory speaks to a larger cultural tradition in how we approach health today.
Every day we’re bombarded with new diet rules liable to cannibalize everything we’ve ever known, or at least what comes naturally. Actually, eating oatmeal for breakfast is horrible for you!!! Did you know that fruit is making you fat? Chocolate is killing you, probably.
Here’s an idea: Drink when you’re thirsty, eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired! Be the queen of you.
Collage by Emily Zirimis.