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Thursday, January 13, 2011

sense of smell

 What if a since-recalled nasal spray knocked out your ability to smell for more than 9 months??? well that is the topic in a new book I am reading called Remembering Smell by Bonnie Blodgett.

 My interest in this subject has created a intense need for more information about how we smell.
A smell can bring on a flood of memories it can influence peoples moods and even affect their work performance.The olfactory bulb is part of the brain's limbic system an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it's sometimes called the "emotional brain", responses almost instantaneously.
 The olfactory bulb has intimate access to the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning. Despite the tight wiring, however, smells would not trigger memories if it weren't for conditioned responses. When you first smell a new scent you link it to an event, a person, a thing or even a moment. Your brain forges a link between the smell and a memory- associating the smell of chlorine with summers at the pool or lilac's on my birthday. When you encounter the smell again, the link is already there, ready to elicit a memory or a mood.
Chlorine might call up a specific pool related job or memory or it might you feel content. Lilacs might make you happy without you knowing why. This is part of the reason why not everyone likes the same smell.
We encounter most new odors in our youth, smell often calls up childhood memories. But we actually begin making associations between smells and emotions before we are even born. That is amazing to me. Infants who were exposed to alcohol, cigarette smoke or garlic in the womb show a preference for the smells. To them the smells that might upset other babies seem normal or even comforting.

 I have gained over 20 lbs over the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. I was doing Medifast in Sept. and October and lost 35 lbs in 2 months.. I felt deprived of things... I did not like the texture of most of the foods... nothing smelled good. I have great willpower when I put my mind to something, but when the holidays roll around with all the food memories... ..eggnog, sugar cookies baking in the oven, turkey cooking... I loose myself in memory and eat... Not good.

What does food have to do with smell you ask???

Women have a sharper sense of smell than men. Flavor is 90% smell. You eat lasagna, and it could be a sock or a marble ...without smell. Food can be comfort and imagine comfort gone. SO I am using food as a comfort.. and I need to think of something else... to comfort me.

I can't imagine not being able to smell.. but you could lose and gain weight if you did not have your sense of smell. You lose weight because if you can't smell you don't want to eat. You can gain because you want the satisfaction food gave you, but you never feel satisfied.. if you can't smell it.

In the book.. Bonnie describes how you feel isolated with no smell. There's a shame that all anosmics ( people who lost their sense of smell) feel. Everyone else is thinking - " NO biggie" Some people say they would rather loose their sense of smell than their big toe.. Bonnie says if you tried it you would change your mind.
Bonnie got depressed while unable to smell, now she is always smelling- bed linens, leaves, her dog... and she says all smells are so gorgeous.

One of my favorite smells is lilacs it transports me back to my grandmothers home. When I smell clean laundry I think of my step-mother and musk my mother.

Aromas have long been used to influence behavior. Legend says Cleopatra perfumed the sails of her ships that she sent to meet Anthony so the wind would carry a hint of desire.

So I am going to try to inhale my way to weight loss.* I am going to eat food at warm temperatures to enhance the aroma and flavor..* I am going to use non-caloric seasonings such as Chile powder, cumin, garlic and cinnamon to spice up any bland food I may be eating.. to get back on track.

Feeling full is my brains way of telling me to stop eating. SO enhancing the smell of my food acts on the satiety center of my brain to help me feel satisfied sooner, and remain full longer, which in turn can cause me to eat less. I am going to try some tricks for stimulating my scent receptors- such as paying close attention to smells to enhance their perceived flavor.* When you are distracted you tend to eat more. Watching TV and eating bad no, no.
Another trick.. *I have never tried but learned about its.. to use a straw to aerate my food by blowing bubbles into my soup or sauce. The odor molecules will rise more readily to the top of you nose, where scent receptors are located.. You may not want to do this on a date.. save it for dinners home alone.

Smells I love- sour apple jolly rangers, cedar chests, pine, cinnamon donuts, play dough, rose milk lotion
Smells I dislike- cat food, mothballs, burning toast, musty basements

Paint always makes me think of my father's auto body business and of course him.
Smells can influence behavior and trigger cravings. Smell can even ignite our sexuality. Our culture over whelms us with stimulation delivered through sight and sound. Each day without any thought we breathe in over 23,0000 and inhale over 238 cubic feet of air.

I have also  been reading about meditation as a weight loss technique. It makes sense to me. Mindlessness is a major player in the overeating game. Meditation is all about being in the present and being mindful. That, according to Nina Smiley, PhD., is what makes meditation an effective technique for weight loss. Smiley suggests the following exercise before eating. Inhale, counting your breaths up to four, and then ask yourself, “Am I hungry, or am I eating for some other reason?” You build this habit the way you build a muscle, says  Smiley, who runs a four-day mindful eating retreat at New York’s Mohonk Mountain House. This (gently) forces you to recognize that everything and every time you eat is a choice you’re making.
I find that a simple breathing technique is also a great stress reducer and combatant against emotional eating. 
  • Place your right hand on your belly and your left on your chest.
  • Take a deep breath and notice which hand moves most. Ideally, your right hand is moving. If not, practice this until you can easily and naturally fill your belly with air as you inhale.
  • Once you have the technique mastered, focus on slowing your breathing. Think of each breath as a ride on a swing. Inhale as you fly forward, bask in the relaxation that is the moment in time when you’re motionless at the top of the arc, then exhale as you swing backwards. Don’t force it or hold your breath, just gently work your way towards a slower breath.
  • Do this daily for 5 minutes (I do it before I get out of bed in the morning) and as needed during times of stress instead of reaching for food.

Specific aromas can deprogram overweight people whose normal response to the smell of rich, unhealthy foods like chocolate, doughnuts and pizza was to become hungry and overeat. Scientists tested the benefits of food odors to suppress appetite rather than stimulate appetite, and found that there seemed to be certain smells that caused overweight individuals to reduce their cravings, and therefore eat less.           

In scientific research, people preferred sweet smells, and strongly sweet scents such as chocolate often triggered feelings of hunger and led to overeating or binge eating, while “neutral” sweet smells actually curbed appetite. To test this theory, researchers asked 3,193 overweight people (mostly women) aged 18-64 to inhale a variety of “neutral” sweet smells, including banana, green apple, vanilla, and peppermint, three times in each nostril whenever they were hungry.
After six months, the participants in his study lost an average of five pounds a month, or 30 pounds in total.

I have also read about Sensa something people are sprinkling on their food in hopes to lead to them being less hungry. The sensa is suppose to enhance the smell and taste of food.
 So.. let me know what smells make you think of eating.. and together let's try to change that... Here is to our inhaling our way to weight loss.

By the way a dogs nose's is 10,000 times more sensitive than ours.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry about the weight gain.
And she's right - my wife has a far better sense of smell than me.

Ashley Sisk said...

Hey - I got your comment. If you want to send me an email we can talk about headers. I don't know how to do it any other way that in PS but I may able to quickly create one for you. :)

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