The bizarre trick that will keep you from eating too much junk food

Who doesn't like junk food? Whether your preference is the savory persuasion or the sweet, junk food represents an indulgent moment at best, or at worst, a steady diet. Companies invest a great deal of money in researching how to maximize consumer temptation with these sugar- and salt-laden foods (via Smithsonian Tween Tribune). And if you've ever sat down with a family size bag of Cheetos, thinking you would just have a few, only to realize 20 minutes later you've eaten half the bag, that's by design, too. Food companies like PepsiCo, go to great lengths to make their foods addictive (via Spoon University). Which brings us to the real issue with junk food: They are filled with proverbial empty calories and fats that have health experts cautioning us against eating too frequently, lest we don't want to be able to button our pants.

That said, per So Yummy, marketing researchers conducted a study and shared results in 2019 that found a way to counter those mid-day munchies and hanger pains. It's a really bizarre hack that you may want to try before you grab for that candy bar or handful of microwave popcorn.

A 2-minute trick can help you shun junk food

Per the Journal of Marketing Research, if you smell the food that is using its siren song to tempt you into devouring it, and do so for more than two minutes, it will diminish your urge to eat the brownies, pizza, or Doritos. That sounds too good to be true, right? There's no way that smelling chocolate brownies for a few minutes can induce the same satisfaction as eating a pan of the sweet treat, right? We feel your skepticism. 

But check it out. Researchers tested their theory on a group of 900 middle schoolers at lunch time in their cafeteria, exposing the kids to the ambient smells of pizza and apple before they bought their meals. When pizza's smell was tested, the researchers found that of the food and beverage items sold that day, only 21 percent were considered unhealthy options. On the day the ambient smell of apple was tested, the amount of unhealthy options sold to students equaled almost 37 percent. They did similar experiments at a grocery store and laboratory and came to the same conclusion. Exposure to the scent for two minutes or more satiated the desire to actually eat the unhealthy option. So, the next time you are craving an Oreo cookie or a bag of potato chips, try savoring their smell for a few minutes. Your waistline might thank you.