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5 Most Tempting Food Scents—And How To Resist Them
What science says:A fresh loaf of homemade bread or warm blueberry muffins are tempting no matter what, but there's something else to it, Hirsch says. When his team studied how foods affect feelings of nostalgia, baked goods elicited a sense of safety and security. "They bring up a positive memory of the past that makes people feel happier," Hirsch says, which is one of many reasons why it can feel comforting to pop a pan of cookies in the oven after a bad day.
How to resist:"It's a normal part of life to crave these foods, so it's all about portion control," Retelny says. If you're going to bake Grandma's famous sugar cookie recipe, try using a mini muffin pan to keep your cookies extra small, she says. Try a whole grain flour to make each cookie a little more filling so you're more likely to stop at one. And if you can't say no to that giant bakery cookie, eat just a quarter and share the rest. If it's homemade bread you're smelling, try a slice of whole-grain toast for that same warm and crunchy effect (or try these ridiculously tasty, low-sugar bread recipes). When the scent is wafting from the bread basket at a restaurant instead, serve yourself one piece, then ask to have it removed from the table, she suggests.
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What science says:Those feelings of nostalgia related to food smells differ depending on where you grew up, Hirsch says. Baked goods weren't always the most popular when he broke his data down by region of the US. In fact, among west coast smellers, the scent of barbecuing meat was a stronger nostalgic force.
How to resist:You don't have to forego grilling altogether, but you can be smarter about how you prepare your meats. For starters, cooking at a lower heat for a longer period of time can help you avoid charring, which creates cancer-causing chemicals on the surface of your dinner. Barbecue sauce also tends to burn on the grill, Retelny says, so try marinating your meat beforehand or serving sauce on the side rather than lathering it on during the cooking process. Keep in mind too, she says, that barbecue sauce is often laden with sugar. "Look for brands that don't have high fructose corn syrup on the label and not a lot of added sugar, or make your own," she says.
What science says:Just as some people have a sweet tooth, it's possible to have a salty tooth or even a crunchy tooth motivating you to get to the bottom of a bag of chips, Hirsch says. The smell of salt and other chip flavors triggers cravings, too, he says.
How to resist:Focus. Yes, really. Chips, pretzels, and other salty snacks are far too easy to binge on straight out of the box or bag, Retelny says. When you're craving these kinds of snacks, a low-fat, low-salt, or baked-not-fried variety might not always satisfy, so it's okay to have a small amount of the real deal if you're mindful while you're eating it. That means portioning it out of the carton onto a plate or a bowl so you see how much you're eating—and savoring the occasion when you do.
If you're into it for the flavor and the crunch but willing to experiment, try a flavored nut, like a barbecue pistachio, Retelny says. "You're getting more health benefits and you'll be more satiated thanks to the good fat." (Here are 25 snacks that won't leave you hungry.)
What science says:The smell of bacon can easily overpower your favorite brunch spot. In addition to the high nostalgia factor of meat smells that drive bacon cravings in some people, even the crackling of oil and sizzling of the slices can be hard to resist, Hirsch says.
How to resist:Fake it 'til you make it.
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