While eating right and exercising are the traditional methods of maintaining a healthy weight, incorporating smell therapy can be a good addition to the weight-loss strategy.
There are two methods of suing the sense of smell: smell the food longer before eating it to eat less and to sniff specific aroma-therapeutic scents to control the cravings.
Smelling Food before Eating
A 2013 study by Appetite found that the longer you smell a food, the less appetizing it will become. Taking just 5 minutes to take in the smell of your food in the beginning of the meal will lower your appetite and make you eat less by the end of it.
This study confirmed the results found in another research done in 1996 by the Department of Experimental Psychology of University of Oxford.
Journal Flavour also published a study showing that smelling your food, especially if it has a strong aroma, will unconsciously make you take smaller bites and lead to eating less. It might be advantageous to cook food with strong spices and aromas.
Using Specific Aromas to Reduce Appetite
Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, studied 3,000 volunteers to find that sniffing food “tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it,” according to The Rider’s Digest. The subjects lost 30 pounds on average by using inhalers with scents such as peppermint, banana and green apple. The study found that the more often they used the inhalers (from 3-48 times a day), the more weight they lost.
Another study by the Human Neuro-Sensory Laboratory gave 80 people two inhalers – one with specific scents and one placebo. Those who used the first inhaler lost on average 19 pounds (15 pounds more than the placebo group).
“There’s been a theory around for a number of years that if you saturate your sensory system that you’ll not be as hungry,” said Director of the Smell and Taste Center Dr. Richard L. Doty to The New York Times.
Vanilla Reduces Cravings for Sweets
The Rider’s Digest reported that lighting a vanilla candle after dinner reduces cravings for desserts. Same effect can be achieved by vanilla essential oil or incense. Another way is to wear a vanilla patch, reported LiveStrong.
A 2010 study used 200 overweight volunteers to test that theory over a period of one month. The subjects were divided into four groups, three group wore different patches: vanilla, lemon, placebo; and the fourth group wore no patch. The group with vanilla patch lost more weight by the end of the trial.
Peppermint Curbs Appetite
Professor Bryan Raudenbush at Wheeling Jesuit University asked 40 volunteers to sniff peppermint for five days, after which they received a placebo for five days. During the five days that they sniffed peppermint, the study’s subjects ate 1,800 fewer calories on average.
Jasmine Works Better Than Green Apple
In 2012 Australian researchers studied the effect of aromas of non-food items on chocolate cravings, and they found jasmine to be not only effective, but more effective than the scent of green apple – a popular folk technique.
It was just another study in a long line of them proving once again that weight loss and healthy weight management are about far more than counting calories – as the results show, it goes far deeper than that.