Mindful Eating Series: Does The Nose Know Hunger?


We are exploring the seven hungers as part of our mindful eating series this month.  In Jan Chozen Bay’s book Mindful Eating, she identifies eye hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger, mind hunger and heart hunger.  By exploring each, you can also explore  your relationship to food and your body. The key is to do it from a place of curiosity, as opposed to judgment.  That way, change is possible. – Barbara Meyer, PhD, Green Mountain at Fox Run Program Director

Did you know our sense of smell is powerful and primitive, guiding us to find food and to assess whether or not food has gone bad?  While we may think that our ability to taste is a function of the mouth and the taste buds, taste is really very much dependent on smell.

Maybe you’ve noticed when you have a cold you are not able to taste food as well. I did my own experiment the other day, holding my nose as I ate part of my meal and noticed the difference. Without smell, the absence of taste was clear. I felt a sadness at the thought of a life without the ability to enjoy food and eating in this way. Without these senses, we may eat simply because our bodies need the fuel, but a huge piece of what is beautiful and satisfying is lost.

Like other sensory hungers, the smell of food can lead us to eat when we’re not hungry. Who hasn’t been lured by the smell of popcorn at the movies or the enticing aroma of freshly baked Cinnabon wafting through the mall?  The pull is much greater when we have let ourselves become too hungry, so addressing hunger – honoring it rather than denying it – gives us a greater chance of eating what our bodies want and need rather than what smells good in the moment.

To really feed your nose hunger, savor the smell of your food. At your meal, bring the food to your nose before your mouth. This act of focusing awareness helps to slow down the process of eating.  Taking this time to be aware, to notice the smell of our food can greatly enhance your enjoyment and satisfaction from a meal. As I’ve been exploring nose hunger, when I first notice a  smell I enjoy, I describe to myself what I notice. At first, I don’t have a lot of language, but as I sit in my awareness of smell, more detail emerges. I can find many layers or nuance. It’s a meditation.

Fragrance is a way that we feed nose hunger without food.  Flowers, beautifully scented lotions, incense and candles are some ways we might nourish our sense of smell.

What are some of your favorite fragrances?

One response to “Mindful Eating Series: Does The Nose Know Hunger?”

  1. jules- big girl bombshell says:

    I learned about a year ago, that taste is all about smell. I found it fascinating. Now, as I do my healing body work, this comes so much into play. It’s not just a mindfulness but each smell triggers a memory, usually food related.
    But my favorite fragrances are my Mom’s signature cologne, star gazer lillies, gardenias, and cinnamon-vanilla candles, and again, all have special memories attached.

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