Scentsational Candles: How Aroma Can Kill Food Cravings
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Imagine you’re about to take a bite out of a delicious piece of homemade chocolate cake. Think about the sweetness, the aroma of the cocoa, the butteriness of the frosting and the good feeling it gives you. Focus on that sensation for a few moments and note how is makes you feel. Pretty hungry? As though you want to go and find a sweet treat to eat? If you answer yes, then you’re not alone.
For many people the idea of food, the thought of eating something sweet, or highly flavoured is linked to mood. Food cravings often stem from a basic human need to feel better about ourselves, or to cope with the stresses and strains life throws at us. We choose to eat the treats we know we shouldn’t to help ourselves feel better.
If you’re trying to turn over a new leaf in the new year, then there is a way forward that doesn’t necessarily involve giving up treats entirely. Here, we’ll discuss how aromas can help kill food cravings.
Talking scents about cravings
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We often find the aromas and tastes that please us, are in things that won’t do us much good in the long run. The cakes, sweets, biscuits and large coffees we buy from chain stores all taste good and satiate the initial feelings of “needing something...now” but the effects don’t last. All that we’re left with is an even bigger waistline to show for it.
Studies have shown that there is a very strong link between fragrance and cravings and aromas and moods. We associate certain aromas with certain impulses. So, for instance, if you think about happy vacations you might have taken, you might instantly think about the aroma of the sun cream you used, or the plants and flowers that surrounded you as you lazed on the sun lounger in the garden or by the pool.
The same is said of food scents too. Walk into a bakery, smell the fresh bread and it makes you want to eat some! It triggers a pleasure impulse which makes us feel hungry (when in fact we aren’t).
Using scents to beat cravings
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There is an old-wives theory called ‘Christmas Dinner Syndrome’, which offers the idea that whilst the family are all ravenous and ready to enjoy the delicious feast that the cook has spent all day preparing, the chef is not. This is because they’ve spent the entire time in the kitchen, being surrounded by the smells of so many different foods that their appetite has been lowered. Therefore they don’t feel as though they want to eat anywhere near as much as the rest of the family can consume.
It’s a theory that is gaining credence and one which seems to work particularly well with sweet aromas, such as vanilla. In a scientific test, a study group of overweight individuals were split into two groups. One were given an arm patch to wear which was scented with vanilla. The other group were given a placebo patch to wear, with no fragrance. The group wearing the patches scented with vanilla reported that they lost on average around 5lbs per month, whilst the group wearing the placebo, lost only 2lb. The report from the study stated:
“The vanilla patch hypothesis is that people overweight experience strong food desires even cravings, which is difficult for dieters to stay within a healthy eating program. By forming an association between a specific smell and a desire to manage your food intake, it seems possible for people to reduce their strong desire for sweet high-calorie foods and even eliminate them in some cases.”
Surrounding yourself with sweet smelling aromas could be one way of helping reduce your cravings and the feeling of needing to overeat. Ou sense of taste is directly affected by our sense of smell and therefore it seems possible that there is a link between how we react to a strong, sweet aroma and our desire to indulge. If you’re constantly exposed to whatever it is you feel the need to eat, chances are your liking for it will decrease, or the feeling of ‘needing’ it will wane.
The role scented candles can play
“Light a candle, kill a craving” could become a new mantra. But if reading the above has made you curious then it might be time to test the theory for yourself.
A warm, vanilla scented candle, lit for a few hours each day will not only help create an inviting, relaxed ambience in the home but could also help you to stop snacking on sweet foods. You’ll notice it more as you move from one room to another. As you walk in, the fragrance will become more noticeable and it might, in theory help you beat the need to eat something sweet and sugary.
We’d love to hear how you get on with testing this notion, so let us know!