As anyone who has ever worked in a fast- food -- or any -- restaurant can tell you, the smell of unhealthy food can put you off the stuff. So this may help you stay away from it if you're dieting.

Scientists have now confirmed that a great way to fight your craving for fries, pizza, and other junk food is to be exposed to the smell of the stuff for a few minutes.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Florida  and published in the Journal of Marketing Research, used a series of experiments where people of various ages were exposed to the smell of junk food -- specifically, pizza and cookies -- or alternatively, healthy foods, like strawberries and apples.

Some of the test subjects were students, and the scents were piped in through a cafeteria. Other subjects were in a supermarket.

In every case, the test subjects that got a whiff of the junk food made better choices when it came to buying food. Those who smelled the healthier stuff craved the guilty pleasures.

The findings were backed up by the same experiments conducted in a lab.

 

The study's authors added, "In essence, if reward structures and areas representing craving in the brain can be satisfied with olfactory inputs instead of actual gustatory consumption of unhealthy foods, this can help with fighting food urges."

In other words, if you're hungry at 3 a.m., instead of ordering pizza, try standing outside a Domino's and just inhaling for five minutes.