Smelling Snacks for 2 Minutes May Help You Curb Food Cravings

  • Smelling snacks for a given period of time may reduce your cravings for them.
  • Researchers used a vaporizer to emit the scents of certain foods around test subjects.
  • Those who smelled foods for longer reported having a reduced appetite for foods.

It’s one thing ignoring sealed chips and candy bars in your local store, but trying to ignore the scent of hot dogs wafting over from the stand on the way home can make it harder to avoid snacking when you’re not hungry.

It’s clear your sense of smell has a lot of influence over your eating choices, but researchers may have discovered how to help you better control it.

According to a study carried out by researchers from the University of South Florida, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, the longer you spend smelling food you have a craving for, the less you may actually crave it — and the more weight you can potentially lose by avoiding eating it.

Director of the study Dipayan Biswas and his colleagues wrote that, often, it’s enough to simply smell a snack for a long enough period to reduce your appetite for it.

“The olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste) systems are strongly interconnected and reward centers in the brain do not distinguish between stimuli encoded by different sensory systems,” Biswas said.

Biswas installed a fragrance vaporizer in a room that would periodically alternate between emitting the scents of different snacks — he also conducted field studies in superstores and cafés.

The subjects had to assess whether the scents affected their appetites.

It’s satisfying enough just to smell the foods you’re craving.

Avdeyukphoto/ iStock

Those who smelled the scents of foods like pizza or cookies for 30 seconds tended to have a greater appetite for the snack than those who inhaled the scent for a full two minutes.

The latter ended up choosing other snacks like apples and strawberries.

As the study outlines, it may be satisfying enough just to smell the foods you’re craving — often, your brain doesn’t actually distinguish where the pleasant stimulus is coming from.

Basically, your body doesn’t register whether you’re just smelling food or you’re actually eating it — as long as you only have an appetite or craving for a given snack rather than being genuinely hungry.

Next time you’re struggling to resist a snack, just hold out for two minutes, inhale, and enjoy the smell.

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