Physicians have long been aware that people who lose their sense of smell (a condition known as anosmia) often wind up gaining weight.
My research shows that overweight people who sniff food aromas do just the opposite they lose weight.
Study: More than 3,000 overweight people were given a pen-like inhaler containing the scent of apple, peppermint or banana. They were asked to sniff the scent whenever they felt hungry.
Over the course of the six-month investigation, participants took from 18 to 288 whiffs a day and lost an average of 30 pounds apiece.
The more frequently the subjects sniffed, the less hungry they felt and the more weight they lost. Some people wound up losing even more weight than they intended to lose.
It’s not yet clear whether these individuals will be able to keep the weight off. My hunch, however, is that scent-induced weight loss will prove to be no easier or harder to maintain than weight loss brought about via more conventional means special diets, exercise regimens, appetite suppressants, etc. Follow-up studies may provide an answer to this important question.
Why sniffing works
What explains the connection between sniffing food and losing weight?
One likely possibility is that sniffing food somehow tricks the brain into thinking that the body is actually consuming food.
Another theory: Inhaling a pleasant food aroma helps eliminate the subtle anxiety that often causes people to overeat. Whatever the explanation, it’s clear that food scents do help curb overeating.
Practicing scent therapy
If you’d like to lose weight via “scent therapy,” try these simple strategies…
•Take time to sniff your food before eating
Inhale as deeply as possible to make sure the aroma-causing molecules reach the olfactory bulb. That’s the part of the body responsible for the sense of smell.
• Chew your food thoroughly
The more thoroughly you chew, the more scent is liberated. If you’re eating alone or can do so without offending your dining partner you might even try “blowing bubbles” into each mouthful of food before swallowing. By doing so, you maximize the mixing of food molecules with air molecules.
• Opt for fresh foods whenever possible
Opt for fresh foods whenever possible and eat them hot. Fresh, unprocessed foods tend to have stronger scents than packaged or canned foods. Hot food is more aromatic than cold food.
• Add a pungent herb, spice or condiment to bland foods
If you’re eating rice, for example, you might top it with steak sauce. You might sprinkle chopped garlic on your salad or add a splash of ketchup on cottage cheese.
Using an inhaler
If you prefer, you can use a scent inhaler. Keep the inhaler with you at all times. When you find yourself feeling hungry, inhale the scent three times into each nostril. Vary scents you inhale, and stick to food odors you like. If you don’t find an odor pleasant, it won’t help you lose weight.
Caution: Do not use an odor inhaler if you suffer from asthma or migraine headaches. These conditions may worsen if you do.