Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stop and Smell the Chocolate!

Something big has changed over the past few months, and I only realized it this week. It's something I touched on a long time ago, when I started to notice that smelling freshly baked bread in the grocery store was no longer a trigger, but a pleasure. But I have taken the whole "smelling" thing to a new level!

I used to get triggered terribly by smelling *anything.* If it smelled good, I HAD to eat it. If I was driving down Main Street and smelled Burger King smoke, I'd want a burger so bad I could hardly stand it. Even if I didn't buy it and went home, I'd obsess about it until I'd give in and go back to Burger King. If I smelled cookies or bread or anything baking, I wanted to eat it and I would feel DRIVEN to eat it... all. In fact it got to the point, when I was trying to lose weight, that I was *scared* of smells. I'd go to the grocery store and if I smelled that bread baking, I'd run out of there as fast as I could so I wouldn't buy some and eat it. It drove me nuts. Every good smell was a trigger, just like the sight or even the mention of any yummy food.

I noticed awhile back that I now have the ability to be in the grocery store, smell the bread, and actually stop and savor that smell. Instead of "ohmygosh it's fresh bread smell, I must get out of here right now because I cannot handle it!", I think "mmmm, that smells so good. I really like that smell. I am enjoying this smell." I can stop and inhale deeply and savor the aroma instead of holding my breath trying to avoid it.

The last week or two I have started deliberately smelling foods that I am not going to eat. It started when my daughter brought home a Hershey's chocolate bar from her dance class. I do not give her much candy, but I will give her a square of chocolate once in awhile. So I needed to open the bar and break off a piece for her after dinner one night. I *love* chocolate. Love it. When I opened it, a teeny bit of chocolate smell came wafting over and it was SO GOOD that I held the bar to my nose and inhaled deeply. "MMmmmmm!" I said, "It smells so good! Here, smell it!" and my daughter took a whiff. We enjoyed the candy bar for a moment without even tasting it. Then I gave her her little square and wrapped the rest back up. Every day or two, when she asked for a square, I repeated the process, inhaling and savoring that lovely scent. "It's almost like having a bouquet of flowers!" I said to her. After awhile she thought I was pretty silly, always smelling her chocolate but never eating any. I was even sillier when I asked her if I could smell the piece of banana Laffy Taffy she got from a pumpkin festival! It smelled really good! And I have been smelling everything in the house, more and more, without tasting it. SMELLS are no longer a trigger for me (although I admit, if I was hungry I bet the smell of garlic bread might put me over the edge!)

This realization and practice has freed me up in so many ways. I am able to shop or go to people's houses when they are baking. I can burn candles that smell like vanilla frosting or apple pie without HAVING to make and eat them. I am able to bake again without flipping out. I have avoided baking for YEARS because it would trigger me. This morning I made pumpkin spice muffins for my children, which they enjoyed so much... and so did I, because it filled the house with the sweet aromas of cinnamon and pumpkin and yumminess. Not only do I *love* having my house smell like that, but I also enjoy going in the kitchen and smelling a muffin every so often. It is almost like eating one, believe it or not! I can tell how it would taste, and it gives me pleasure to smell them. But I am not triggered to eat them. Not sure how this happened, but a *lot* has changed in me. This is just one thing. But it's a big one!

If you can stand to smell a chocolate bar or a sugar cookie or a brownie without eating it, I think it is an excellent exercise in learning not to be afraid of food, and learning that you can actually enjoy smells and not HAVE to eat the food. You can smell all the intricate "tastes" of the ingredients, like vanilla, butter, and brown sugar. I do not feel *nearly* as deprived as I used to, because nothing is off limits. I can enjoy any food I want to... with my nose. It's very similar to tasting, really. But no calories. Love it.

Still 179 pounds this morning :)


Vee said...

I almost didn't read your post once I saw your title because I'm having a real issue with chocolate and craving. I don't have it under control like you do.

But I'm glad I read. Thanks. Vee at

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Some things even smell better than they taste, anyway (vanilla extract and those Laffy Taffy candies)!

They say that a lot of your tasting sense is actually smelling...ever plug your nose to take medicine?

I am going to try this, too!

Anonymous said...

That is so true. At the other day I wanted to smell my husband´s ice cream, but had no intend to have a bite. By smelling I knew how it tasted, and that was enough.
I can´t wait to see you 100 pounds gone picture !!!

FYT614 said...

I discovered this neat treat early on in my weight loss journey. I ordered my son some bbq chicken pizza and practically held the box down because I didn't want to smell it and be tempted to eat it. All of the sudden I opened the box and inhaled deeply...the craving went away and I was calm and cool again.

I must say that I've done it a few times since but have not accepted it as a true way through, like you. I'm am still nervous that I will tempt the fates. Great that you've found this ecstasy though.

Fat Grump said...

Some foods just smell so good, don't they? My weakness is the smell of bacon being cooked. I can't resist. Gotta have a bacon sandwich! :)

Smells don't always trigger a need for food in me, but if I crave something, I do allow myself a small taste of it. It seems to be the only way I can follow a 'diet' of any sort. Was in a cake shop today with daughter. She bought cakes for the visitors she'd be having later - I watched and didn't like the look of any of them. I just thought they looked far too sweet. That for me is progress!:)

It's all coming together for you Lyn. I just can't imagine you wanting to binge any more, because food doesn't seem to have the hold on you that it used to.

Lanie Painie said...

Almost as good as tasting, but w/o the calories. I like it!

thanks, as always, for sharing!

Debbie said...

I love the way food smells, and chocolate OMG.. I like to lift the top on a pot and smell something like homemade soup or chili. Have a great day.

Lori said...

Recently I've started embracing food fantasies. I used to banish the thought of something yummy because I'd obsess about it until I got it. I finally realized that the reality was not nearly as good as my imagination. Now, I'm savoring the thoughts without eating the calories. Perhaps smelling is the next step for me.

Beth at Obesity Strike said...

Yay for the 170's. I've been following you for a while and never posted. Being free to smell is lovely! A great post.

mensa said...

I really enjoyed your post. Maybe I'm at that point too. I went for a walk on my lunch-hour at the mall. I passed both a cookie place and Cinnabon and took in the smells, even wondering if there was any calories going thru my pores or in my lungs. I also passed Weber Grill and the yummy smells there but I'll be satisfied with whatever hubby fixes for dinner.


Karen said...

I don't think I am at the smell level with food yet...but I hope I am one day. I do have one male friend who smells really good every time I see him and I can enjoy sniffing him without feeling a compulsion to stray from my current 12 year relationship. LOL!!! Maybe food is next!!!

Twix said...

This is an excellent breakthrough! So happy for you!! :)

I love to go to the bakery aisle at the grocers and just smell all those yummy smells, fresh bread, donuts, and other sweet treats. Fun!

Mind Over Fatter said...

Very interesting and will give it a try

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I am SO not at this point. I can smell candles no problem, I can smell baking bread (I lived by a bread factory once.. we smelled bread every night) or baking things while they are in the oven.

I would never ever ever pick up a muffin or cookie or chocolate and inhale it, that would just make me bite it for sure. I can smell it from afar, though sometimes if my boyfriend is eating it I find it unpleasant because I would like some too.

I think you are doing amazing :)

Anonymous said...

Great post. I do that, too -- love the aromas and the zero calories!


Anonymous said...

I like this. You must truly have a great amount of will power to be able to overcome this issue. I know what you mean when you say the smoke from Burger King makes you want a burger immediately. As a matter of fact, when I read that it kind of made me want one. It's amazing how powerful our senses are. I am not too bad at the moment when it comes to eating everything I can smell, but I could easily become bad about it. I think this information is great and I think that I am going to try to apply it in certain situations.

spunkysuzi said...

I can do this quite often as long as i'm not hungry :)
I actually really enjoy food that looks and smells good and sometimes i choose to eat it slowly and sometimes i simply choose not to!

Vickie said...

we have a local restaurant that was ordered to stop 'piping' out their grill smells. It was too near a neighborhood and it bothered people. And when you think about it, really isn't very nice to 'pipe' out the cooking smell to such a huge degree. If it is naturally occurring that is one thing - but too pushy is another.

Still can't take smell of rye toast. But pretty good with everything else.

Rosie's Healthy Living Blog said...

One of my favorite things to smell is brownies. Brownies have such a strong and potent smell that it's almost like eating them. I can totally relate to this post, it's something I have experienced in my own weight loss journey.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn! Firstly, I have been supporting you for a long time and wish all the best for you.

Second, I can definitely relate to this but interestly, coming from the opposite direction: having recovered from anorexia nervosa, I used to feel *guilty* for enjoying smells - I used to avoid walking past Subway because I felt guilty for thinking, 'that bread smells nice!' Similarly, I used to avoid cooking shows on television in fear that I would actually desire the food they were cooking.

However, like you, now I *love* smelling food and do not feel guilty. Bread smells lovely, and other fresh items are desirable. I now love cooking shows for their ability to cook such desirable food as well. It's such a joy to know that you now love smelling foods and know you can indulge whenever you please (I like the word, "selectarian") and that I can do the same.

Thankyou and good luck in the continuation of your journey!

Cynthia said...

I like to smell foods and roses and cats and all kinds of good smelling things, but it's not necessarily a trigger to eat for me. It's just sort of "information".

However, I hate strong perfumes and scented stuff and strong soaps because they make me sneeze!

I often use my nose to tell me if I've gotten a marinade right though! And it creates a nice anticipation for the eventual dish.

Steelers6 said...


Something for me to ponder, maybe work up the courage to consider. I wonder where I am in all of this. Not sure. I mean I can handle & just enjoy public food aromas, but not sure about putting my nose up to a Dove dark bar and letting it alone. Or something baked in my home. hmm.

Thanks for the info, and wow, this is really an amazing place for you to be! Stellar.

@ Karen, hahaha

Super weekend to you, Lyn.

Jane Cartelli said...

I know what you mean. At this point in my recovery I can enjoy the smell of chocolate, the scent of candles that mimic butter creme and hazelnut cookies and the fresh smell of pie hot from the oven. I can smell all these things and not want to eat them. What a miracle.