PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Looking for a way to satisfy those high-calorie meal cravings? A new study finds if you breathe in the smell for longer than two minutes, you're more likely to be content with fruit.
The study published in the Journal of Marketing Research says the scent of food itself can directly satisfy your cravings because the brain doesn't realize the difference in the source of sensory pleasure.
Dipayan Biswas, a marketing professor at the University of South Florida College of Business, found a link between the length of exposure time to a food's scent and whether a person would indulge or not.
He conducted tests using an "inconspicuous" nebulizer, which gave off the scents of healthy and unhealthy foods.
The results showed that those exposed to the smell of cookies for 30 seconds were more likely to want a cookie than those who were exposed to the smell for longer than two minutes. Those exposed to the smell for longer than two minutes were more likely to choose a strawberry over the cookie.
The same results were found when participants were exposed to pizza and apples.
"Ambient scent can be a powerful tool to resist cravings for indulgent foods," said Biswas. "In fact, subtle sensory stimuli like scents can be more effective in influencing children's and adult's food choices than restrictive policies."
Foods that lack a strong scent are typically not connected to a reward, giving them little influence on what we order.
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