Why Your Co-Worker’s Smelly Lunch Makes You Feel Bad

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

In offices where most people eat lunch at their desks, one person’s food choices can affect everyone. According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a good explanation for why the smell of your co-worker’s stinky cheese or fast food french fries might drive you nuts.

According to Pamela Dalton, an olfactory researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, bad smells trigger bad moods.

Smelling others’ lunches in the office can make people feel as if they have lost “control over their personal environment,” Dr. Dalton says. A bad or unidentified smell can “make us go on alert, distract us from what we’re doing and change our mood,” usually for the worse, she says.

According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the common smelly foods that get the most complaints are reheated fish dishes, fast-food french fries, microwave popcorn and burritos, sandwiches with liverwurst or onion, and dishes with aged cheeses.

Read more: A Field Guide to Obnoxious Eating at the Wall Street Journal

Are there any foods you purposely keep out of your workday lunches because they are too smelly? And are there any stinky foods your co-workers eat that you can’t stand?

(Image: Flickr member Ewan-M licensed under Creative Commons)