For instance, researchers at Oregon State University recently looked at how aroma can play mind games with our taste buds. They examined retronasal olfaction, or how we smell food through our mouths. (When you chew, the aromas from the food get released and sucked up through your nose as you breathe.) Apparently, when the scent and taste of a food are congruent—or naturally harmonious, like vanilla and sugar—we perceive this combination as one sensation in our mouth. "Even though vanilla actually has no taste at all—it's only a smell—we are unable to separate which information came from our mouth and which from our nose. Instead, we think the overall sensation is in our mouth," says Juyun Lim, Ph.D., lead researcher and an assistant professor of food science and technology. "It's a trick that our brain plays on us." And because we quite literally don't know our nose from our taste buds, we can manipulate our senses to alter our taste perception.
Here are some mind-over-menu tricks you can use to eat healthier: