Eating food is a sensory experience. Not only is the taste of food pleasurable, the aroma is also enticing and pleasurable. If you’ve ever eaten a meal with a head cold, you know the smell of food is as important as its taste. Now, a new research study shows that the aroma of foods could make it easier to control how much you eat.
Does the Aroma of a Food Affect How Much You Eat?
Researchers at Top Institute Food and Nutrition in the Netherlands recently discovered the power of food aromas and how they affect portion size. Participants feasted on a custard dessert while researchers delivered smells of varying intensities into their noses. The participants were able to control how much custard they ate during the experiment. The results? The participants took smaller bites when they sensed the custard had a more intense aroma. When the aroma intensity was scaled back, they took larger, more substantial bites.
It’s All about Portion Size
As you know, portion control is a big issue when it comes to weight control. Most people overestimate the size of a serving of food and consume the equivalent of two or three servings when they think they’re eating one. Anything that helps people reduce portion size is a good thing when it comes to weight control. When foods have a stronger aroma, the sensory experience is more powerful, and this speeds up satiety. Have you ever eaten a piece of cheese with a strong odor? Chances are you weren’t able to eat a lot of it before becoming full.
Other research has also shown a link between food aromas and weight loss. One study showed that overweight people ate more when they smelled a sweet odor, while neutral smells reduced their desire to eat. A similar study found when participants took a whiff of vanilla, peppermint or green apple when they felt hungry, they ate less food and lost weight. There may be something to aromatherapy after all.
How Can You Use This Information to Control How Much You Eat?
Add a small amount of cheese with a powerful aroma to your food or sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on veggies and side dishes. It’s low in calories but adds a strong fragrance to your food.
Sprinkle more spices on your food, especially powerful ones like garlic. Foods that are cooked with curry and other Indian spices have strong aromas too. Chances are you’ll eat less at an Indian buffet than you will at a buffet with less spicy and aromatic foods.
Eat foods when they’re hot. Heat releases more of a food’s natural aroma, which may help you get full quicker.
Cook your own food at home whenever possible. You’ll inhale the aroma of the food as you’re preparing it, which will help satiate your appetite to some degree before you start eating.
Before spooning food into your mouth, spend a few minutes breathing in the aroma of the food on your plate. Appreciate its sensory qualities. Eat slowly so you get the full sensory experience, smell and all.
The Bottom Line?
Use the power of smell to be more satisfied with less food. Make sure the food you eat isn’t bland but a feast for your tongue and your nose. It’ll help you be satisfied with less.
FoodNavigator.com. “Smelly Foods May Help Industry Fight Obesity, Say Researchers”
J. Neurol. Orthop. Med. Surg. (1995) 16: 28-31.