Adulting Autism Neurodiversity Sensory Processing Disorder

Interoception, Thirst, and Sensory Overwhelm

interoception, thirst, sensory overwhelm autism

I was talking about interoception last week on Instagram (Post 1, Post 2). Interoception is your eighth sense that lets you know what’s happening inside your body. So, your sense of interoception includes things like hunger, thirst, bowel movements, emotions, pain etc.

Anyway, I really struggle with interoception, and one of the things I struggle with most is remembering to drink water.

Water Doesn’t Taste Good, Y’All

First of all, I don’t really like still water at all. If it’s very cold and you give it to me at a restaurant, I will drink it, but if I’m home, I won’t put ice in my water because I can’t handle the noise that the ice machine makes, and I won’t touch ice because it feels terrible, so I cannot make myself ice water without using up way more energy than it’s worth.

For a while, I was successful drinking sparkling water, but then I ran out of carbonation cartridges and have not been able to get more, and I hate putting four cans a day into recycling (that’s not even really being recycled because the Earth is in a garbage crisis) just to stay hydrated.

But when I don’t drink water, I get tired and sluggish and obviously grumpy, and I’m unhappy and unproductive and not great to be around, and obviously you need to drink water to be a person, so it’s not a good choice to just not drink liquids.

So Make It Taste Like Not-Water

Anyway, that whole run up is just a way for me to say that if you are like me and have trouble drinking still water, but carbonated water doesn’t work either, one thing that really works well for me is to put about an eighth or a quarter of a cup of orange juice into a glass, and dump eight or ten ounces of cold water from the faucet on top.

The syrupy nature of the orange juice somehow masks the texture of the water, which is the part I don’t like, and there’s just enough flavor from the orange that I can’t really taste just plain still water, so I will drink a lot of it. This also works okay with other juice, but you’ll have to see what works for you. I don’t like it with apple juice, for example, because apple juice is so thin it doesn’t work to obscure the texture for me.

And, I know water doesn’t *have* a texture. I don’t know what to tell you. It feels very thin and I don’t love it and I like it better when it’s thicker, okay?

Is Hatred of Water Genetic?

I actually learned this trick from my father, who used to bring a huge mason jar of water cut with orange juice to work. I do not know what his rationale was for doing this. He does have some things that look like sensory differences, but he also doesn’t like to spend money and may just have not wanted to have to buy more orange juice. But it works really well, and I encourage you to try it if you’re like me and you have trouble drinking water and talk yourself out of it.

Sometimes Your Mind Wants Water, But It Tells You to Eat Chocolate.

Also, if you are craving sweets and you haven’t had water today, try drinking water first. I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t know why, but if I want something sweet, about 50% of the time that I am actually thirsty.

And then 50% of the time I really just want sweets, but then at least I had some water before I ate my chocolate, and that’s not a bad thing.

Thanks for reading this tongue-in-cheek interoception post. I hope it helped you!

Do you have trouble with interoception? If so, what tricks would you share with others? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Lol I have the same problem: I’m craving food while I’m actually thirsty. I think the official term is interoception. Sometimes I also can’t tell if I’m hot or cold. As for viscosity, i actually have the exact opposite issue: it needs to be thin for me! I don’t like syrup and I really dislike milk or banana juice because my brain just goes “wait, is this food? Or is it water?”

  2. I have always said, “I’m not picky with food…I’m particular. ” I love almost all food, I mean, I’ll eat or try anything…but, only when I’m in the mood for it. It is easier for me to skip eating than to eat food I’m not in the mood for. I cannot just eat crackers or cereal because my body is hungry..I will eat when my mind tells my body to. Biological urges have become alarms that I am able to snooze for a very long time.
    Does anyone else have the annoying habit, when faced with a discomfort, like hunger, headache, restroom, exhaustion, to constantly repeat that discomfort aloud until it has been sated?
    Ex: Everytime I feel the hunger, pain, or boredom….
    ME: “I’m starving…” or
    “Ugh, my head is killing me…or
    “This bandaid just won’t stay on my finger…” etc
    Even if I’m saying this every couple if minutes or so!
    I can repeat the fact that I need to use the restroom, every five minutes, and then not actually go, for hours!
    I also make random noises…like “bloop” or “beebop” or even a clicking sound when placing items back where they go…even sometimes winking one “k..that’s done”.
    I will also narrate what I’m doing, almost coaching myself…(“this goes here…we’re gonna put that back then circle around here, grab that cloth…etc”) in an Australian accent….

  3. I use flavored hot water by adding veggies cubes or miso or some brand of savory teas. But I hate water. It never tastes consistent. It burns in my chest. And since my epic nervous system overload, I have been actively trying to stay hydrated.

  4. As soon as I saw the sub section, “So Make it Taste Like Not-Water” in my Google search I knew I had found the right place. I can only read so many websites geared toward “parents of -neurospicy- children”. I will try the juice idea. Does anyone know of any good drink mixes that actually hydrate you? I am also trying to quit soda as well and may need something with a bit more flavor to help curb my cravings.

    1. So glad to hear this post helped you out, Emily! I dropped soda by switching to carbonated water, which is how I consume the majority of my liquids nowadays. I drink it plain, but you can add flavors to it, too. I believe water it the best hydration option for the majority of cases, so anyway you can spruce your water up can help. Playing with temperature can help a lot, too!

  5. Flavor Extracts.

    Take a gander in the baking section of your local grocery store, and if you’re feeling especially adventurous also try the candy making supplies of your local craft store.
    I use a simple dropper, found at any drugstore, to add only a few drops of any given flavor to water or milk to keep them interesting (note that the kind for candy making is usually extra concentrated so use even less drops than you would of say basic vanilla).

    If I need a sweet kick 1/4 tsp of stevia powder works delightfully.
    (If you’re really used to sugar, start with a full tsp of stevia and work your way down over time.)

    I call these my happy milks or happy waters, because how can I not smile when it tastes and smells like bubblegum or cotton candy or any other flavor I might enjoy?
    The sheer volume of options means it never gets dull, an adventure is a mere drop away. 😀

    (This does not change the texture, for those needing a texture change as well)

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