Imagine you’re a prairie woman in a town in the wild west, and since I suck at history and estimating centuries, let’s just say the time of Jesse James, so 1700s? 1800s?  Whatever.

Anyway, imagine you head to town for some … flour?  A rake? Twenty pounds of brown sugar? A dress with puffed sleeves?

You are walking through town when a man standing atop a wooden box on the side of the dirt road begins calling to the lady townsfolk and says things like, “Gather ’round, ladies! Gather ’round!  Are you tired of being fat?  Are you tired of the constant pain in your side from your corset?  What if I told you that in this little box right here is a magic potion, a simple sprinkle of which onto your food will help you get as thin as the town tramps?!”

You’d be all, “Pshaw!” right?  I know I would be.

So you can imagine why I’m all PSHAW and [quack!] at this:

Alan Hirsch is a doctor who has been researching the sense of smell for 25 years. He said 90 percent of what we describe as taste is actually smell.

I refuse to believe that.  If I have to eat salmonloaf and I hold my nose as hard as I can, I still taste WAY more than 10% of that nastiness.  But I’m not a doctor, so maybe I’m wrong.

Hirsch is the director of the Smell and Taste Institute in Chicago. Channel 4 Action News’ Michelle Wright reported he developed a new weight loss program called Sensa. People following the program sprinkle crystals called tastents on whatever they eat. The crystals are supposed to satisfy your sense of smell, which satisfies your appetite more quickly, helping you lose weight.

Sensa sounds as quacky as Alli, which if you recall is a pill that will give you the runny poops if you eat more than 14 grams of fat in one meal.

Hirsch offered Wright three other tips for using your nose to help you lose weight:

  • Eat slowly and take the time to smell your food for more satisfaction
  • Improve your workouts by having a bowl of strawberries or buttered popcorn nearby as the scent brings energy.
  • Have fewer smells on your plate, which means less variety of food.

Let me address these one by one:

1.  I understand the eating slower thing is scientifically accurate, but for me?  If you put a plate of General Tsos chicken in front of me, it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow I eat it or if I sniff each bite before I put it in my mouth, I will eat it all.

2.  If I put a bowl of strawberries or buttered popcorn on my fireplace mantle while I exercise, all that will happen is I will finish my workout as fast as I can so that I can eat some popcorn and strawberries.

3.  Well that’s just stupid.

Honestly, the only way I can see something like this actually working is if the stuff you sprinkle on your food makes your food taste and smell like poop.


I’m going to be SO RICH. And thin.


  1. SpudMom
    February 26, 2010 3:35 pm

    I actually do think that smell has a ton to do with taste. I’ve had head colds that completely plugged my nose and when I tried to eat I couldn’t taste a damn thing because I couldn’t smell a damn thing.

  2. catiedidit
    February 26, 2010 3:57 pm

    Actually, smell has everything to do with taste! We only have a certain number of nerve cells for taste, but when working with the olfactory system, it makes it seem like there are tons of different tastes…

  3. Sooska
    February 26, 2010 3:57 pm

    Nuts! I agree Ginny on the Gneral Tso’s! “Experts” says to eat off a small blue plate. Then you eat 3 platefuls. I generally dislike food s due to their textures – rarely (if ever) smell. Just another scheme.

  4. one-eyed dick
    February 26, 2010 4:00 pm

    “….makes your food taste and smell like poop.”

    So, when did you try my ex-wife’s cooking???

  5. Jill
    February 26, 2010 4:02 pm

    It always amazes me how far people will go to get out of eating healthy foods and getting up off their butts and breaking a sweat once in a while.

  6. mis
    February 26, 2010 4:20 pm

    Sensa reminds me of Mensa which reminds me of menstrual so by my logic – I say no to Sensa.

  7. dand
    February 26, 2010 4:26 pm

    Smell does account for a large part of flavor, but that doesn’t mean you can take away the actual taste part and still get the same sensation of delicious general tso’s.

    As Wikipedia says, “Of the three chemical senses, smell is the main determinant of a food item’s flavor.”
    And of course we should believe everything Wikipedia says (jokes aside, in this case I believe it’s actually correct).

  8. Carpetbagger
    February 26, 2010 4:30 pm

    Or, I could just put less food in my pie whole. That might work, too. I’m just sayin’.

    Or, as Laura Wilder would have said, “Pa, why are you takin’ yur pitch fork to that snake oil salesman!?”

  9. Pensgirl
    February 26, 2010 4:42 pm

    Totally agreed on the whole popcorn/strawberry thing, as well as less variety.

    But on the first point, well I think he might actually have soemthing there.

    See, every time I’m near a Cinnabon, I think it smells delicious but it totally kills my appetite. I never actually want to BUY one because the mere smell always ends up being enough. That actually seems to fit with his first little piece of advice.

    The thing is, though, I’ve never had that experience with anything BUT cinnamon rolls.

    So maybe the lesson for me is to only eat in the vicinity of a Cinnabon.

  10. Carpetbagger
    February 26, 2010 4:45 pm

    I saw a Cinnabon candle in the store recently. If they made more food-scented candles, we could just stop eating completely!

    Make my candle with extra pepperoni.

  11. SpudMom
    February 26, 2010 4:50 pm

    This will teach to to read less quickly. Only after reading your tweet did I go back and see the Anne reference. Hilarious!

  12. Scott L
    February 26, 2010 4:54 pm

    Sprinkle some Sensa on a Cinnabon and it will disolve in to a puddle; just like the wicked witch of the west.

  13. Emilie
    February 26, 2010 5:10 pm

    it’s posts like this that make me realize why I love your blog and also why i think in real life you’d be my new BFF.

  14. L.Mo.
    February 26, 2010 5:56 pm

    I’m currently rereading the entire Anne series and am on the one where she is in college and is unknowningly falling for Gil. That whole drama makes me swoon no matter how old I get. Thanks for the reference, I was beginnig to think I was the only one who loved her books!

  15. Neesie
    February 26, 2010 6:41 pm

    The much coveted puffed sleeves!!!

    I can’t tell you how many times I watched the movies as a kid. I wish I had a copy of the books. It would be the perfect way to spend this snowy evening.

  16. SpudMom
    February 26, 2010 7:12 pm

    @Neesie – I’ve got the movies! C’mon over!

  17. JenOH
    February 26, 2010 7:27 pm

    I caught the Anne of Green Gables reference as soon as I read it which is just one of the many reasons to never miss Ginny’s blog. I so love those books and movies!

    My mom’s sense of smell doesn’t work very well, and she said it does affect what she can taste and also can sometimes suppress her appetite.

    And anyone who needs to lose weight should just follow my lead because I can’t cook and I’m really lazy so sometimes even when I’m hungry I won’t get anything to eat just because it takes more effort than I’m willing to put forth. LOL

  18. Cassie
    February 26, 2010 7:32 pm

    Carpetbagger, I want my candle to be blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies.

    And mint chocolate chip icecream.

  19. Lauren
    February 26, 2010 7:48 pm

    I don’t believe the smell satisfying hunger thing for one minute. If you walk into the kitchen and smell brownies, chocolate chip cookies, or anything with peanut butter in it baking, you automatically eat it right out of the oven even it burns your tongue. Or maybe that’s just me.

    The whole concept of “healthy eating” is just depressing to me. I’d rather run 10 miles and eat what I want than not run and eat healthy.

  20. KGC
    February 26, 2010 8:09 pm


    Au contraire, you could eat healthy AND run.. only to be hit a PAT bus. Me? I’m in for the eat whatever I want and not run. Less blood.

  21. Magnus Patris
    February 27, 2010 9:17 am

    You could do it the old fashioned way… tapeworm.

  22. bucdaddy
    February 27, 2010 10:06 am

    “‘Lose weight without diet or exercise!’ Well, that pretty much leaves wasting disease.”

    — Dennis Miller

  23. Political Party Pooper
    February 27, 2010 11:37 am

    I don’t even bother worrying about what I eat anymore. I’ve been using Dr. Al Sears’ PACE program for two months now, and have not only lost 11 pounds of fat, but I no longer have to run five miles three times a week or work out at a gym for two hours every other day. My workouts last about fifteen minutes, I’m energized for most of the rest of the day, and still burning fat 24 hours after my workout is done. (did you know that by far, we burn more fat sitting down than in any other way?)

    I’m not even really trying to reduce my food intake. If you want a system that works, that anyone can do, I’d recommend it. It’s not a “do nothing and you are guaranteed to lose one hundred pounds in a year” type of program.

    Ginny, even you can do it. How hard can it be? Well, can you run a fifty yard dash? Can you run up a set of stairs? Can you fog a mirror? :D

  24. Noe
    February 27, 2010 11:59 am

    Ginny, the American west was settled in the 1800s (19th Century), The French and Indian War and American Revolution where fought in the 1700s.

  25. Sarah B.
    February 27, 2010 12:37 pm

    Just mentioning that a lot of our food doesn’t smell as great as it used to. Remember how great a pear or fresh orange smelled when you bit it? Or the scent of fresh melon? Things don’t taste or smell the same with all the gmo’d stuff going on.

  26. Carol
    February 27, 2010 1:21 pm

    Omg…the memory of beefsteak tomatoes from my uncle’s garden. They literally _smelled_ sweet and we’d eat them like fruit.
    My aunt spent days canning them and we’d share them with half our neighborhood.

    The tomatoes we get nowadays, and I’m thinking of a salad I was presented with at TGIFridays which had _yellow_ tomatoes on it, are the reason why so many people don’t like tomatoes.

  27. unsatisfied
    February 27, 2010 4:33 pm

    here’s my solution:

    buy those food-scented candles.

    if you get hungry, light one of them.

    if you’re still hungry, eat the candle.

    (unlit, of course.)

    lose weight in no time!

  28. letsgostillers
    February 28, 2010 12:22 am

    i have found that you can condition your body to not want certain types of food. unfortunately, i have not been able to tackle cheese and/or nachos as of yet. also, it may help to have a mom and grandma that call you fat!

    really though, i’ve had no cravings for anything candy, cookies, or chocolate since I was about 13; even with my SKINNY husband eating cookies for breakfast DAILY in front of me. I’ve been told the more you eat good food (fruits and veggies) the more your body wants those things that are actually good for you.

    maybe I’m just lucky to naturally like fruits and vegetables??? I’m curious for others’ perspective.

  29. Luke Steelerstahl
    February 28, 2010 12:00 pm

    So if your food tastes and smells better you’ll eat less?


    You idiots will believe anything!!!!

  30. toni
    March 1, 2010 2:19 pm

    Luke Steelerstahl Says:
    You idiots will believe anything!!!!

    Well um yeah…after all YOU got re-elected…just sayin…

  31. Alex
    December 8, 2010 7:55 am

    Fat Loss 4 Idiots | The Idiot Proof Diet | Lose 9 Lbs in 11 Days