How Your Nose May Help With Portion Control


The LA Times Booster Shots blog reports on an interesting study by a trade journal called Flavour. Researchers wanted to see if they could affect the bite size people take, based on a food’s aroma. They used vanilla custard at 3 scent levels – no smell, slight aroma, strong aroma.

The research showed that the more intense scent was associated with smaller bite sizes. This seems counter intuitive because if a food smells good, one would think that people would eat much more.


1. Sample size was very small – just 10 people.

2. Previous bite sizes also influenced current bite size.

The researchers’ conclusion:

These results suggest that bite size control during eating is a highly dynamic process affected by the sensations experienced during the current and previous bites.

What do you think? Does food with strong aroma have an effect on your portion size?

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  • EvanT

    From my own experience I know that if there is something delicious available, but the amount is limited, I’ll eat smaller bites so it lasts longer but if there is plenty of it, there’s a good chance I’ll binge (which is why I don’t really keep treats around the house). But I doubt this “study” even qualifies as such. At best it’s a decent starting point for future, better designed studies.

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  • Carol

    I think it speaks to the power of smell to provide satisfaction. The less you can smell of a food, the more you might need to eat to get enough “smell satisfaction” (our sense of smell is stronger than taste, but food in the mouth can also be smelled). Perhaps satiation via smell is similar to that from a full stomach (which signals us to stop eating).

  • Nellidi

    I know that during the holidays when I’ve been baking all day, by the time I’m done I actually feel full and I haven’t even eaten any of the cookies yet! Strong smells definately affect my eating.

  • GrassyKnoll

    It makes sense to me that strong smells equal smaller bites. I think that a strong smell would indicate to your subconscious brain a need to consume less in order to enjoy the flavor. Conversely, weak smells indicate weak or little flavor, and so more is needed to get any sense of a food’s flavor. Surely there’s a brain scientist out there somewhere who can verify or refute that and probably even explain the evolutionary origins of it, if accurate.

  • Espnismylife

    Only 10 people? This info is useless then