Have you ever binged on garlic? Probably not, and experts say there’s a good reason for that: scientists have found we tend to eat less of smellier foods.

In previous work, Rene de Wijk, a sensory scientist at Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands, learned food texture alters consumption in that thicker and more viscous foods make us take smaller bites. So he wondered if the way food smells would have the same effect. And indeed it did.

Participants in the new studies took smaller bites of foods with stronger aromas — even when the aromas were pleasant. And since smaller bites make us eat more slowly, we’re likely to feel full faster, which can lead to a lower caloric intake and an accompanying weight loss.

“It could be that people are self-regulating, and that with a more intense odor, we take instinctively smaller bites to avoid strong sensations,” says de Wijk.

So can the smell-factor of foods be amped up to make us eat less? Maybe. The researchers found that manipulating the odor of food to make it stronger may result in a five-to-10 percent decrease in how much we take in with every bite, so a combination of aroma control and portion control could mean smaller waistlines.

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