On 2 separate occasions I have felt similar symptoms you get from sugar or gluten exposure from simply an intense aroma of those substances. the first occurrence was when I walked into a Subway to use the restroom and the smell of the fresh baked breads was like a shot to my gut. The smell was SO extremely intense and I immediately started feeling nauseous. I used the bathroom quickly and no more than 10 minutes later I had a pounding headache and was feeling very poor. The second time was today when our office was having a go away gathering for a co-worker and there were literally 200+ doughnuts out on the table. I swear I got a sugar rush followed by nausea and another headache and I was only there for 30 minutes.
Considering I used to eat Subway at least once a week before Paleo it surprised me how intense the smell was and how my body reacted. I know Robb and others have talked about how thinking about food can get the digestive enzymes going and possibly thinking about sweets can release some insulin, so I guess my reactions might not be that uncommon. Also, I know you can get a contact high from pot and also there is second hand smoke, however, there are actual chemicals mixing and released in the air in those situations.
Has anyone else had similar reactions and what is actually happening? Am I experiencing a contact high and is it more intense because of the lack of exposure?
I am going to assume yes. True story, I hate plums with a passion. One time while grocery shopping I walked by a display of plums that were very fragrant. I go nauseous and nearly barfed right there. I'm sure it's all psychosomatic more than anything. So, you may have just developed an intense dislike of sugar and gluten to the point the smell makes you nauseous.
How about your body's fight or flight mechanism? I think it's possible. Obviously it's different, but I have problems going through the laundry soap isle at the grocery store or the perfume area of the department store. I also get sick from cigarette smoke smell, even when nobody is there smoking, and asphalt is very, very bad. Smells can do weird things and I think everyone is different in how they are affected.
Another non-expert here. What occurs to me is that molecules must be inhaled or you wouldn't smell anything, right?
So your question relates to what types of molecules you inhale when you breathe in intense bread fumes. Are you experiencing a gluten reaction, an insulin release, or what? Do we actually inhale individual yeast organisms or what?
I'm sure I've read somewhere that the pancreas starts producing insulin when we smell sugary or starchy foods in preparation for eating them. However, I think the peak is small if we don't then consume the smelled foods. Apologies for the lack of reference, possibly Gary Taubes and "Why we get fat".