To be honest, I can’t ever remember this actually happening to me, not because I was a goodie two shoes….. I think it was just a threat.
The THREAT was designed to improve my self-control. And since it never actually happened, the threat must have achieved its objective.
Soaped up self-control
So the idea that rinsing your mouth out, can improve self-control is not a new one.
But washing out your mouth with soap, is not something you would necessarily want to try out on your self. Odds are you’d be blowing bubbles out your nose etc …..Y-U-C-K !
Fortunately, you don’t actually have to use soap !
According to research published in Psychological Science, you can use something way more pleasant and still get the self control benefit.
You can get the rinse effect with a mouthful of sugar.
And best of all, you don’t need to SWALLOW. So you’re not exposing yourself to UNWANTED calories.
The rinse out your mouth with SOMETHING self-control test, was used by 51 students performing a taxing task, designed to deplete self-control.
The first part of the tormenting task, required the students to meticulously cross out all of the Es on a page from a statistics book. Once they had successfully de-eeeed the page, they were strooped.
Strooping, is when you have to identify the colour of a word that is flashed across the screen, the catch is the word, which is flashed across the screen describes a colour. Eish…….. You can see why this is a taxing task, requiring truck loads of self-control.
The sugar rinse
Immediately prior to performing the taxing task, the students rinsed out their mouths with a little lemonade.
But there were two different lemonades on offer, both lemonades tasted sweet but
- One lemonade had been sweetened with old fashioned, sugar (glucose)
- The other lemonade, had been sweetened with Splenda® (sucralose), an artificial sweetner.
The REAL sugar gargling group, were a lot sharper – they were able to “see” the colour, significantly faster.
The sugar motivates you
So what is the big deal, most of us have figured out that a piece of chocolate or two, can be highly motivating.
Although the line between being motivated to eat another piece of chocolate and doing the task at hand, can become a little blurred.
And the pay off, both in the short term and long term, is not always win-win. The short term problem is that the sugar hits the snooze button in the brain, leaving you more motivated to take a nap than press through. Long term, the added wobbly bits make you feel a lot less motivated to move. And moving is good for you.
It’s a rinse not a swallow
The big deal about this study, is that you can still get motivated, but avoid the sugar back lash.
You just have to rinse ! You don’t have to swallow.
Swirling the sugar molecules around your mouth, is enough to titillate the sensors in your mouth, which respond by giving a little dopamine squirt in your head.
And dopamine squirts are what is telling your brain to PAY ATTENTION.
The self-control gargle
Being strooped only takes a minute or two, so at this stage, there is no scientific evidence that sugar gargling will help for tasks requiring long stints of self-control .
But if you have to do a task that is particularly taxing, but won’t take too long to do AND YOU CAN DO IT IN PRIVATE e.g. your actual taxes, solving a challenging problem, not lighting up that cigarette, you might want to kick start the task with a good sugar gargle.
Remember the aim is to hold the sugar in your mouth AND NOT TO SWALLOW.
NOTE : Public displays of sugar gargling will be tricky, so you may need to go with a more civilized plan B. Suck a sweet. The disadvantage of plan B is you are now swallowing calories.The Gargle Effect: Rinsing the Mouth With Glucose Enhances Self-Control. Psychological Science (2012) Oct 22. M. A. Sanders, S. D. Shirk, C. J. Burgin, L. L. Martin.
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