Sometimes just smelling something delicious is enough to make us want to eat it, like when you order a side of fries after catching a whiff of them in a restaurant. That’s not so great when you’re trying to eat healthy, but new research finds that just enjoying the scent of junk food can help you make healthier food choices, as long as you do it for two minutes.
Researchers did a series of experiments in different environments, including a middle school cafeteria, a grocery store, and a lab, and found that people who sniffed indulgent foods, like pizza or cookies, were less likely to pick or buy unhealthy foods than those who smelled more nutritious options, like apples and berries. But the key is smelling a food long enough to push past the initial craving.
Experiments show when people are exposed to the aroma of goodies longer, they tended to steer clear of the junk food option and make a healthier choice. So researchers suggest that while a delicious smell can make you start craving that tasty food, over time it can also be enough to satisfy it. And now that we know, we can take a minute to order next time we go out to eat, so maybe that’ll help us make the healthier choice.