The Power Of Smell: How Our Nose Can Help Us Make Healthier Choices
Researchers generally agree that between 75% and 95% of what we experience as flavor comes from our sense of smell.
This makes it an integral part of our experience of food, and one we
rarely think of in isolation, but understanding the power smell has over
our taste can arm us with a powerful tool to make healthy food choices and handle negative patterns around eating.
Managing Food Intake
problem many of us face, whether we’re aiming to lose weight or simply
ensure that we’re eating healthy quantities of wholesome foods, is
portion control. Taking smaller bites of our food leads to an earlier
onset of satiety, and research suggests that strong aromas encourage us to take smaller bites.
A study led by Dr Rene A de Wijk found that stronger aromas are
associated with a 5%-10% decrease in the amount of food we take in per
bite, which has strong implications for those wishing to decrease their
portion size. Studies have also been conducted on the link between scent and food cravings,
finding that associating a specific aroma with the desire to eat less
can reduce cravings for unhealthy desserts. In this case, simply
lighting a vanilla scented candle could reduce the chances of us caving
in and opting to eat an unhealthy snack that our body doesn’t really
you taste what you’re eating properly, you’re more likely to reach
satiety and avoid seeking out sweet snacks laden with artificial
ingredients. Highly processed foods create chemical responses in our
bodies that leave us craving them, and more often than not, these aren’t
the healthiest choices we could be making, often brimming with sugar,
salt and fat. Scientists are currently working on combining scent with healthy foods to
create the illusion of the palatable snack foods we’re used to without
the negative impact on our health. This idea can also be utilized in the
home to incorporate healthy ingredients that we may be less attracted
to into our cooking: simply adding your favorite spices, for example,
can create an aroma that will entice you to eat a vegetable-heavy meal
you might otherwise have avoided. Likewise, toasting sesame seeds or
coconut to top a healthy meal will release aromatic oils to make your
food more appealing.
Trick Of The Mind
we can use scent to trick our brains into believing that what we’re
eating has different properties to the ones it actually does. In a study
conducted by Thierry Thomas-Danguin, subjects reported tasting more
salt in a flan laced with the aroma of ham. This has huge implications
for those who wish to reduce the amount of salt or sugar in their diet
without compromising on flavor. Simply immersing ourselves in the scent
of a flavor can make us feel like we’ve sated the urge to consume it.
While researchers are still working on how this phenomenon can be
incorporated in the foods we buy, we can benefit at home by using
essential oils and candles to fragrance our surroundings and satisfy the
desire for some flavors.
and smell are intrinsically linked. Understanding how they work
together helps us to better understand flavor, and how we can use it as
the scaffolding for a nutritious diet and a healthy relationship with