`Infusing foods with strong aroma can help you eat less`

Washington: It`s believed that big bites can lead to big bellies. Now, researchers claim to have found a solution -- infusing foods with strong aromas could get people to eat less.

A team at the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands found that people take smaller bites of food when it`s accompanied by stronger aromas or those that
require more chewing, LiveScience reported.

Those small bites are a good thing, as they actually make your stomach feel fuller faster, reducing the amount of food eaten and calories taken in, the researchers said.

To see how the smell of a food changes bite size, they designed an interesting eating contraption to separate smell from other factors that affect how big of a bite participants take. The participants were fed vanilla custard through a tube while "vanilla-custard" smells were delivered directly into the backs of their noses.

They controlled the amount of custard fed into their mouth by pressing a button to stop the flow. The researchers weighed the custard cup before and after each "bite" to measure its size. Participants ate about the amount of a normal-size desert.

The "back of the nose" presentation mimics the aroma during real eating, study researcher Rene de Wijk said.

"[These] presentations resemble the situation of normal eating whereby aromas travel from the food in the mouth. We cannot say whether smells in the room or on the plate have the same effect because we have not tested it," he said.

The researchers, who detailed their study in the journal Flavour, also found that when food was associated with strong aromas, even of the pleasant natural cream flavouring, people took smaller bites.

"Our aroma was a pleasant smelling cream aroma presented at low levels of intensity," de Wijk said. "We have not tested other smells, but believe that effects can be expected when the aroma `fits` the food, i.e., unusual combinations may not work."

The researchers think this is a feedback loop: when a strong smell is presented in the nose, the participants pared their eating to reduce the amount of flavor they experienced.

They suggested that infusing foods with stronger smells could be used to control portion size: manipulating the odour of food so that it was more fragrant could result in a 5- to
10-per cent decrease in food intake per bite.

Combining aroma control with portion control could fool the body into thinking it was full with a smaller amount of food, aiding weight loss.

"Aromas added at relatively low levels to the foods may already have the effect," de Wijk said, though they didn`t study directly if the individuals actually ate less of the custard in the end.