THE BLOG
09/01/2014 06:25 pm ET Updated Nov 01, 2014

The Power of Aromas

Walk through any mall in America and you might suddenly be enticed by the smell of cinnamon buns or coffee. Sell your home and often you are advised by your realtor to bake bread or cookies to encourage prospective buyers.

Smells are more influential then you may realize. In these two incidents smells are used to elicit sales. They are there to influence you into a purchase that you otherwise might not have made. What if you can take this same concept and use it to create thought-out eating that leads to a healthier lifestyle?

For the answer, I spoke with Valerie Bennis, president of Essence of Vali, in New York City. Her expertise is aromatherapy, and during our discussion she showed me how you can incorporate natural aromas from the root, seed, bark, leaf, peel, or flower of plants to promote healthier eating habits. These aromas will help you manage eating, as opposed to smells that entice you to eat in an impulsive manner.

I asked Valerie how we can use essential oils and aromas, during what I consider the four impulse-eating times of the day. Use her aromatherapy ideas in conjunction with my smart eating tips.

Start of the day:

  • Valerie suggests mixing four ounces of an unscented shower gel and a half a teaspoon of orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime oil. You'll have an overall good skin tonic and an extra morning jolt and treat.
  • Along with your invigorating shower, have a healthy breakfast that includes a protein item. This is a better start to your day than sugary cereal or a muffin that depletes your energy.

Middle of the day:

  • Valerie suggests you spray an aromatherapy mist around yourself, or apply an aromatherapy lotion to your hands and then inhale. If you are having a stressful day, you can use relaxing essential oils such as lavender to calm you, or if you're fighting fatigue, choose aromas like eucalyptus or peppermint to stimulate energy.
  • When you feel the afternoon slump, ask yourself how many hours it's been since you last ate. It might be time to eat again. Ignore the vending machines that offer candy and sugar-laden drinks, and enjoy an afternoon snack consisting of a protein item and a fruit/vegetable for energy.

Evening TV viewing:

  • "Massage your feet with soothing aromatic massage oil," suggests Valerie Bennis. "The aroma of essential oils like bergamot or lavender, and the actual massaging of the feet, creates a powerful and relaxing ritual that benefits the skin and overall health of your feet." She adds, "You can also listen to relaxing music, and it becomes a total experience."
  • Feeling fatigued and watching television is a recipe for over-eating. If getting into bed is not an option, you have other choices. For starters, change your seat. Chances are you have an eating seat in front of your TV, and while sitting in that spot all you'll think about is eating.

Bedtime:

  • Valerie says, "Create a soothing bedtime ritual by putting a few drops of lavender on your pillow or using a pillow mist." Lavender is known to be a sedative, and it can help you relax. Let the circling thoughts from your day leave so you can fall asleep and stay asleep. She is also a strong advocate of bathing with bath oils that contain soothing essential oils, like lavender, cedarwood, or chamomile, to name a few. She suggests adding Epsom salts to the mix because they are helpful for easing aches and pains and relieving stress.
  • Too many people take snacks into the bedroom and then lie in bed watching TV while munching. Others wake up through the night to have a snack. These are vulnerable times to eat because one's problems seem magnified during the middle of the night, and the eater is not fully alert to make smarter eating choices. For optimal health, these habits need to be replaced with non-food habits. Aromas and essential oils are an effective replacement.

Change your prospective and try aromatherapy to eliminate poor eating habits. Let the power of aromas keep you healthy.

Before my meeting ended with Valerie, we casually discussed world issues, and she wondered, "Why can't we just drop lavender bombs throughout the world and make everyone calm?" Great idea!