You know when you're walking through the mall, shopping and minding your own business, and an absolutely irresistible aroma completely overpowers your olfactory senses and lures you in. All of a sudden, you just need that pretzel, cinnamon roll or teriyaki chicken, and it seems as if you are powerless to resist.
But despite the delightful scent, you keep your eyes trained in front of you and soldier past the food court, using every bit of your willpower not to cave and buy that thing that you are fiendishly craving.
Good for you. But guess what? Here's some rotten news: Even if you stay strong and avoid the tasty temptation, YOU COULD STILL GAIN WEIGHT.
Wait, what? How's that possible? Isn't weight gain and loss nothing more than a simple equation of calories in minus calories burned?
No, not according to the wet blankets over at UC Berkeley, who conducted a study and found that you can pack on the pounds just by smelling delicious things, reports SF Gate.
Well, not you, per se. Mice.
But still, it's terrible news, isn't it?
In the study, researchers took a number of obese mice, temporarily wiped out their senses of smell for a few weeks, and found that they lost weight far more rapidly than their obese counterparts with intact olfaction, even while both of them were on the same high-fat "Burger King diet."
"In the context of food and appetite, this is really novel," said Celine Riera, one of the researchers, according to SF Gate
Indeed it is novel! Past studies have actually shown different results -- one such experiment determined that those who regularly smell vanilla (especially when they are not hungry) are more prone to weight loss than those around other aromas, notes a 2009 report from Psychology Today. The reasoning? Since vanilla is almost always associated with sugar, it delivers a blast of satisfaction to the brain, helping to stave off your sweet tooth.
But according to the newer study, your sense of smell decreases after you eat, so you might be able to trick yourself into thinking you are satiated by blocking your olfactory neurons (although it can also take all pleasure out of eating and cause depression, so be careful).
Or maybe just eat the darn cake next time.