Preloading on liquids (a glass of water, a cup of watery soup) is an old appetite-control trick.  Preloading on smell is a little newer.  Let’s have a sniff of what it’s all about…

Anosmia-Aquesia Connection

Taste is primarily smell since the “senses of taste and smell are yoked together phenomenologically” (Dennett, 1992, p. 46) and the smell of food accounts for a lion’s share of the food’s overall flavor.

Loss of sense of smell (anosmia) can lead to a loss of taste (aquesia) which can lead to a loss of appetite. When your nose is stopped up, everything seems to taste… tasteless.   This kind of temporary anosmia (loss of smell) can be apparently induced on demand.

Trigger-Control: Anosmia on Demand

You can “turn off” your sense of smell by pinching your nose with your fingers.  Compare how the overall experience of different foods changes when you “turn off” the sense of smell.  Try this out with foods or beverages that have traditionally been associated with strong aromas.

You might also use a preventive “nose-blockade” to cut down on grazing if someone’s cooking in the house.

If you discover that “turning off” your nose behaviorally down-regulates your eating to a meaningful degree, you could try throwing off your nose by applying a bit of Vicks Vapo-Rub  to the tip of your nose to block food smells.   Might help if you are an olfactory (nose-based) craver (i.e. if your eating tends to be easily triggered by smells).

Appetite-Control: Preloading on Smell

Active, conscious, mindful smelling of food facilitates a faster onset of fullness (Hirsch, 1998).

Try a “noseful-not-mouthful” approach to pre-load on the smell before loading up on the food.  Try increasing the ratio of nosefuls to mouthfuls.

Whereas before, you’d smell the food just once at the beginning of the meal, see if you can build up to a 1:1 noseful-to-mouthful ratio in which you make a point to smell the food before each and every bite.  Or, at least, try to take a few mindful nosefuls of the food at the beginning of the meal and in-between courses.

Track your mindfuls and nosefuls at Mindful Eating Tracker

Enjoy your eating moments!