Can a Food’s Aroma Affect How Much You Eat?

Can a food's aroma affect how much you eat?Sensory cues affect how much people eat when they sit down to a meal. For example, research shows foods that are creamier or thicker in texture increase feelings of satiety. That’s why a smoothie is more filling than a glass of milk. Even the color and size of the plate you eat on has an impact on appetite and satiety. Red, yellow or orange plates stimulate appetite while eating from blue or green plates subtly reduces your motivation to eat. Size matters too. People feel satisfied with smaller portions when they eat off a small plate. Now a study shows that the way a food smells is another sensory cue that affects satiety.

Strong Aroma = Smaller Bites?

When people eat foods with a strong aroma, they take smaller bites. That’s according to a study published in the journal Flavours. Researchers in the Netherlands discovered that people use bite size to control how much flavor they get when they take a bite and that’s influenced by a food’s smell. They made this discovery by using a special machine to deliver custard to hungry participants. The participants were able to control the size of the bites they ate, and researchers were able to vary the strength of the custard’s aroma. They found when the aroma of the custard was strong – the participants took bites that were 5% smaller.

Why might this be? Foods that have a strong aroma are perceived as being more flavorful, and when people eat them they unconsciously take smaller bites to control the amount of flavor they get with each mouthful. On the other hand, when people bite into foods that have little aroma, they take a bigger bite to compensate – to experience more flavor. Even after the strong aroma has diminished, they continue to take smaller bites. Why is this important? When you take smaller bites or slow down the pace of their meal, you generally eat less. Changing the aroma of food could be a simple way to reduce bite-size, calorie intake and increase satiety.

Add More Flavor to Your Food

Adding more flavor to foods, in general, should reduce bite size since people take smaller bites when food is more flavorful. Adding flavorful spices to food, especially ones with a powerful aroma may cause you to eat fewer overall calories and feel more satisfied with each bite. Researchers believe that this simple strategy could reduce the amount of food people eat at a meal by as much as 10%.

Ways to Use This Strategy

Pump up the flavor and aroma of your food by adding more spices to it. Some of the most pungent spices are cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and cloves, commonly used to prepare Thai and Indian dishes. If you prepare these foods at home, the strong aroma of the food cooking will have an appetite-satiating effect even before you sit down to eat a meal.

Add a small amount of cheese with a strong aroma to foods when appropriate. Have you ever noticed how filling a fragrant piece of cheese is and how much slower you eat it when it has a powerful smell?

Enjoy the taste of hot sauce? Adding a little to a dish not only enhances its flavor, it temporarily fires up your metabolism because of the capsaicin it contains. Black pepper and ginger also have a modest metabolism-boosting effect. Although this may not be enough to have a major impact on weight loss, research shows that people get full more quickly when they eat hot, spicy foods so you may eat less when you sprinkle a little hot sauce on your food.

Add spices to veggies to give them more flavor so you’ll eat more of them. Most veggies are naturally low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and when you’re chowing down on vegetables you have “less room” for higher calorie, less healthy foods.

The Bottom Line?

Pump up the aroma and flavor of your food and you may end up eating less. Plus, certain spices are naturally high in antioxidants – something most people need more of. Skip the bland, boring food and enjoy food with more flavor and aroma. It could help you eat less.



Science Daily. “How the Smell of Food Affects How Much You Eat”

FoodNavigator.com. “Thick and Creamy Sensory Cues Increase Satiety of Low-Calorie Foods”


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