Best Scents

New research shows your sense of smell can lift your spirits, make you feel sexy -- even help you lose weight.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | May 2005

Can You Sniff Your Way Thin?

Well, it certainly won’t hurt to try. Scents don’t magically speed your metabolism or burn fat, but they might, just might, reduce your appetite. The idea here is that the smell of food can fool your brain into thinking that you’ve already eaten. If the trick works, the brain signals that you’re full so that you eat less and lose weight. A twist on this idea is the theory that the scent of vanilla can help you lose weight by reducing cravings for chocolate.

Want proof? In 1995, Alan R. Hirsch, a Chicago neurologist and “olfaction expert,” published a study showing that overweight people ate less and lost weight by sniffing the scent of green apples, peppermint or bananas whenever they were faced with food or tempted to eat. The odors were contained in devices that look like lipstick tubes. But when you unscrew the cap, you release the scent.

You can try a variation of this at home, Hirsch says, by inhaling the aroma of your food before eating. Experts say that you stop eating a meal because your sense of smell and taste is satisfied, even if you don’t feel full. To get more of the smell to your brain, make sure the food is hot, and take the time to chew it thoroughly.

If you can resist everything but chocolate, a vanilla-scented patch called Crave Control might kill your yen for sweets. The patch boosted the willpower of people who participated in a study at London’s St. George’s Hospital. Crave Control can be ordered online at Skeptical? Well, here’s an odor that definitely will help: the smell of the sweat you work up with regular, calorie-burning exercise.

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