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How to use ambient odors to EAT LESS
When we eat – we heat.
The official name for the process is meal associated thermogenesis. It has quite a few moving parts……… it involves a gut-secretin-BAT-brain axis.
Meal associated thermogenesis
- the food arriving in the stomach,
- prompts the release of the hormone secretin,
- which creates a horrendous, din.
- The sound travels, all over the body,
- upsetting brown fat cells, this sparks a flurry of activity and,
- ends up “singe-ing”, the neurons in the appetite centre.
Click here, to learn more, about the gut-secretin-BAT-brain axis.
It’s a blessing and a curse.
Depending on who you ask……..
For the neurons, deep in the ARC nucleus of the brain, it’s a trauma, they’d prefer to circumvent, so they’ve written a rule, and had it added to, the “eating” play book.
When it is HOT, eat less.
Most of us, play by this rule, most of the time.
Playing by the rules
So on a cold winter’s day, we’re much more likely to tuck into a bowl full of calorie rich goodies. Conversely, on a hot summer’s day, we more likely to opt, for a light snack.
Now the great thing about a play book, is it minimizes the need to think.
And, this is something the human brain likes to do – it makes life, SO MUCH EASIER !
Play book slip ups
But, it does, open us up, to “MISTAKES” i.e. we run the play book play, in a situation that, it was not actually written for, which can have…………….. unintended consequences.
This can also be a blessing or a curse, particularly if you’re WEIGHT watching….
Taking the temperature
The problem, we don’t actually walk around with a thermometer, strapped to our forehead – we use a variety of sensors, to judge ambient temperature.
One of them, is odour.
Bet you didn’t see that coming………
But, if I asked you, what temperature you would ascribe, to a minty smell. Odds are you would describe it as cool. Ditto for eucalyptus and lavendar. Whereas, cinnamon, cedarwood and sandalwood, would more than likely, be classified as warm.
They’re SMELLS, not temperatures.
But, our brains have made the connection, through learned cognitive association.
NOTE : These learned associations are culture specific, so your association might be different, from some one else’s.
The problem with smelling temperature
And……….. when we smell, these odors, our brain flips open, the “eating” playbook and runs, the EAT HEAT, play.
Sometimes this works to our advantage, sometimes to our disadvantage.
This is what a team of marketing researchers, discovered, when they manipulated the odour in an optometrist’s office/retail store.
Undercover at the optometrist’s office
Our team, hid two commercial grade odour nebulizers, at opposite ends, of a local store. At the reception desk, they popped a glass bowl, full of individually wrapped unbranded, chocolates, for customers to enjoy, once they had, signed in, with the receptionist.
Now the actual temperature in the store, was carefully controlled, at 73 °F.
NOTE : The temperature varied outside, depending on the time of day. The experiment was run, from 9 am in the morning to 5 pm in the afternoon, on two Thursdays and Fridays, a week apart.
They “messed” with the heads, of the customers, by pumping in two different scents. The first, was cedarwood, a so called warm scent, the second was lavender, a so called cool scent.
When they counted how many chocolates were consumed…………
The scent made a difference.
- On “cool” days : 43 customers visited the store and on average, they consumed 54.87 calories.
- On “warm” days : 54 customers visited the store and on average, they consumed 29.55 calories.
Remember the actual temperature in the store, was THE SAME.
Lucky for us, this group of marketers, are not in the business of getting us to buy MORE calories.
Marketers are EVIL !
Not really………… marketers, just know how to push our buttons.
They use psychology and biology, to get us to buy.
Manipulating the ambient odour, in the field, changes people’s eating pattern. Now, our team, went on to, confirm their findings, in a lab setting.
They used undergrad students as their test subjects, feeding them M&Ms, while manipulating the ambient odour. The same thing happened…..
NOTE : They switched up the scents. In the lab, the “cold” odour, was wintergreen, while the “warm” odour, was cinnamon.
Can be manipulated, by marketers. OUCH !
But, they can also be manipulated by YOU.
This research suggest, if you’re watching your weight, you might find it, helpful to watch, the scents you’re being exposed to, when you eat.
- Are you using “cool” scented cleaning products on a routine basis ?
- Could you add “warm” scents to your eating environment ? This might just help you, put the fork down, a bite or two earlier. And…………. less calories in, means less calories need to be stored. Yah !
NOTE : If you’ve got the opposite problem, i.e. you’re struggling to eat enough – try decorating the table, with a sprig of mint and be sure to use minty cleaning products. And consider eating in front of a mirror – click here to learn more.
Scientists believe the magic happened because, in the moonlight the spoon took on a different colour, making it more attractive.
Lavender oil won’t cure ANXIETY, but, it will take the edge off an anxious moment and just being a little calmer, is more healthful than being FREAKED OUT
Adding a little aroma to your food, could drop the amount of food on each fork load by up to 10 %. Small bites could add up to less calories being eaten