Enjoying foods with stronger aromas could help you eat less, according to a new study in the journal Flavour. Previous studies have shown that the texture of food affects bite size. When you eat thicker foods, like custards, you instinctively take smaller bites and eat less food overall. In this study, researchers fed vanilla custard to a group of volunteers through a tube—a method of eating that might also improve your ability to multitask at work. At the same time, another tube supplied a cream aroma to the nose, with the intensity adjusted randomly. People ate smaller bites of food when the aroma was stronger, even though the differences in the food scent were minor. The researchers suspect that the smell of food alerts you to its intensity. A stronger custard smell tells you that the dessert is creamier and higher in calories, causing you to self-regulate by taking smaller bites. Some smells—such as a rich chocolate dessert—may actually stimulate your appetite. If the results of this study hold up, though, people could control how much they eat through subtle adjustments to a food’s aroma. By encouraging people to take smaller bites, they may eat less overall.
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