If someone told you that you had to give up one of your five senses, which one would you let go? My vote is smell.

Recently I lost my sense of smell thanks to, I assume, some allergy meds I've been snorting. I assume it's temporary. I never would have noticed I couldn't smell except my wife, Shelly, kept asking versions of the question "Do you smell that? It's awful!" But I never smelled that.

Over time I have come to realize that the ratio of stinky smells to delicious smells is very high. If the price for not smelling a flatulent cat five times a night is that I also don't get to smell pumpkin pie once a year, I'll take that deal.

I suppose there's a risk I won't smell a gas leak or something else that's about to kill me. Maybe someday I'll have a watch with a built-in sensor to detect that sort of thing. Until then I just hang with people who have functional noses and let them sort out the cat poop from the flaming sofa smells.

I think I also gave up something in the food tasting department thanks to my lack of a functional sniffer, but I'm okay with that too. I've dropped about eight pounds in the last two months because lately I'm not attracted to the taste of food, just its utility.

So this got me thinking that a good diet strategy is to numb your sense of smell, thus making food just a bit less attractive. I can say from experience that I don't miss all that deliciousness because I don't crave it. When I imagine eating a formerly delicious food, now I imagine it as an ordinary food and don't feel much desire for it.

I wonder if people who overeat have better sense of smell than other people. So I put it to you: Tell me your relative weight (thin, medium, or overweight) and whether you believe you have a good sense of smell or not. Let's see if there is an unscientific correlation.

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Apr 12, 2010
very skinny. eat about 4.5 meals per day. can't smell for $@!%
Aug 20, 2009
For me it is not really a big problem if my smelling sense gone, I am very sensitive in bad odor , easily get vomit, So I think If one of my senses gone it is okay for me the smelling sense.
Jun 26, 2009
I have a very poor sense of smell. I've had bad allergies since I was a kid and am almost always congested and unable to smell all but the strongest of odors. I also have a BMI >30.
Jun 26, 2009
Allergy medications might possibly cause weight loss as a side effect.
Jun 25, 2009

The study you quoted is interesting for another reason: the "normal" and "overweight" groups both basically ate the same amout of ice cream. Makes a person wonder if there is something other than overeating that causes people to be overweight. I've known a number of overweight people who eat less than most "normal" sized people and were about as active as that group too.

Secondly, it only proves that the first few people to eat ice cream in the overweight group had a better sense of taste/smell. Once everyone goes for one kind of anything, it can be more than difficult to convince people to try the other stuff. I could just as easily say the study proves that "overweight" people are less wasteful, since they used up one container before moving on to the second.
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Jun 24, 2009
You should get a pet canary and carry it around on your shoulder to warn you of gas leaks.
Added bonus: you'd have a good excuse to wear a hat and eye patch and say 'Arrrrr!' a lot.
Downside: you'd need a new canary every time there's a gas leak...or maybe when you overdo the beans.
And the cats might consider that treason and punish you accordingly.
Jun 23, 2009
I am in the "normal" BMI category and I have a good sense of smell. "Were those cookies sitting next to a banana in the fridge." I eat a lot.
Jun 23, 2009
Scott Adams said: "I've dropped about eight pounds in the last two months because lately I'm not attracted to the taste of food, just its utility.

"So this got me thinking that a good diet strategy is to numb your sense of smell, thus making food just a bit less attractive. I can say from experience that I don't miss all that deliciousness because I don't crave it. When I imagine eating a formerly delicious food, now I imagine it as an ordinary food and don't feel much desire for it."

Watch out, Scott. Not too long after my 87-year-old father lost his ability to taste his food and, like you, his interest in eating, he figured that it was time to die, and so he did. For months before his death, he said that he ate only to keep himself strong enough to get himself to the toilet by himself. Otherwise, he wouldn't have bothered. Strictly utility.

Your second point has wider ramifications. I've been taking venlafaxine (Effexor) for the past 12 or 13 years. It has had an increasingly suppressive effect on my libido. At this point, I can honestly say, as you did, that "I can say from experience that I don't miss all [the sexual pleasures that others seem to be willing to kill and die for,] because I don't crave [sex -- not at all]." My life is significantly less complicated and significantly happier and more fulfilled than it ever has been.

This is just more proof that anyone who believes in free will is a victim of a religious (ideological) delusion. We are all slaves to our hormones and the untoward desires that they force us to try to satisfy as often as possible. Get rid of the desire and you are freer but still have no free will.

Jun 22, 2009
I think according to BMI, I am starving or something (130 lbs, 6'1") and my sense of smell could do better, but that has just been in recent years. I think my underweight is partly due to my parents (who are both pretty thin) and also that growing up I was an extremely picky eater and ate very little.
Jun 22, 2009
I would give up my sense of taste. It's the only way I can drop a few extra kilos.

Flavio, who is unable to understand 'pound' and 'inches'
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
When I was younger, my mom told me a story about a friend of hers that lost her sense of smell that I believe taught me a valuable life lesson. Anything that's just too good won't last, so always have a backup plan.

Her friend lost her sense of taste about ten years ago, and it drove her into depression. Everything she ate tasted like cardboard and the doctor's couldn't figure out what one wrong. But one day she woke up, and her taste had through some miracle returned! She was so happy she ran around eating everything in sight.

... A few hours later her taste went away again and never came back.

Ever since then I have lived in fear of being that woman. That one day my dreams will all come true, only to have them dashed hours later.

And to think my mom thought she was just telling me an interesting story.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 22, 2009
I am of moderate weight (160 lbs, 5'11) with a decent sense of smell.

However, I can go ahead and confirm Scott's theory. In psychology, the ventral hypothalamus plays a role in taste, appetite, and to a lesser extent, smell.

If this area is overstimulated in rats via electrode, the rat with under-eat, only eat regular meals, and be indifferent to unappealing additives.

If the area is lesioned, the rat with overeat, avoid "tainted" foods (foods with small amounts of vineagar, higher salt content, etc.) and becoming prone to grazing (eating small amounts between larger meals)

In humans, one study divided a random sample by weight (normal weight and overweight) and left both groups alone in different rooms. Each room contained a tub of untainted ice cream, and a tub of slightly "tainted" ice cream, which contained benign food additive not related to taste.

In the regular weight group, the tainted and untainted tubs were almost equally consumed ( about 55 and 45 percent consumed, respectively.) In the over weight group, the untainted ice cream was gone, but the tainted ice cream was hardly touched (less than 25 percent consumed.)

Granted, this study mostly proves obesity is more correlated with sensitive taste, but smell and taste are very connected senses. It also demonstrates sensitive taste and relative appetite are both controlled by the same types of brain activity.
Jun 20, 2009
A member of my immediate family was born without a sense of smell and is none too skinny. On the other hand, she doesn't eat more than anyone else in our family and, perhaps consequently, I don't think she's actually *gained* a pound in years. So maybe it's just genetic in her case.
Jun 19, 2009
I quote from the all-reliable Wikipedia (article on taste)-

"The human tongue can distinguish only among five distinct qualities of taste, while the nose can distinguish among hundreds of substances, even in minute !$%*!$%*!$%*!$%*!$ giving up smell also gives up a large portion of taste. I like tasting things, so giving up smell is not good.

Also, in the Wikipedia page on sense there are several other senses, balance, Kinesthetic sense, and everybody's favorite (which is part of touch I guess), urinary bladder's sensation of fullness.

I'd probably choose to lose my sense of balance and spend the rest of my life in an awesome customized wheelchair.
Jun 19, 2009
I have a poor sense of smell, almost non-existent, and am overweight by about 30 pounds. Sadly, I can eat anything anywhere, and that is part of the problem. I am able to eat a hot dog and coke in places where others complain of the smell of manure or black tar pitch like a circus, carnival or construction site that would otherwise dampen the appetite of others.
-- Tony
Jun 19, 2009
The scale says I'm overweight. I have what I call a super-human sense of smell. (I'm actually very sensitive in all my senses.) I am a very, very picky eater, probably because I get overwhelmed by flavors and smells easily. I think if I lost my sense of smell, I'd be able to eat healthier cause I wouldn't be gagging from the smells of things that don't smell as good as brownies and chocolate chip cookies and pizza.
Jun 19, 2009
very heavy, bad sense of smell, but okay sense of taste ....
Jun 19, 2009
Last night, I smelt something really strange in a cabinent. It was wasn't a bad smell, just unique.
It reminded me that smell is the one sense most closely tied to memory. You lose your sense of smell and you may start to forget a whole lot more. Forgetting isn't a good thing, is it?
Jun 19, 2009
Interesting post for the day when news breaks that Zicam use can rob you of your sense of smell... Strangely prescient, I would say. Or maybe you're taking Zicam, Scott?!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 19, 2009
220 lbs, 6 foot. I have small beer gut but I am not obese. I would say I have an above average sense of smell.
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