Modern life is having a detrimental effect on our ability to fully enjoy the taste of foods – because we wolf down meals too quickly.
A team of experts who studied the way we eat and the time in which we consume meals found we have become a nation of ‘mindless eaters’.
The results of the study, a combination of laboratory work and market research, found only 28% of us savour our food as we eat it. And as many as 60% rarely or never properly taste food because they eat it so rapidly.
Alarmingly, the lab team also found many of the 30-strong panel consumed their food so quickly they were unable to identify common ingredients such as tuna, chicken and pork.
In fact, participants were able to only correctly identify 35% of the ingredients and most were unable to discern beef from Chinese pork.
Additionally, 92% couldn’t tell ham from tuna and 82% weren’t able to tell the difference between Quorn from chicken.
Another 78% could not distinguish pork from chicken.
Dr David Lewis of Mindlab, which carried out the research for food brand Glorious, said: ”The abundance of great flavours and the range of food experiences have never been more plentiful in the UK, nor more diverse, yet our findings suggest consumers are lazy when it comes to tasting and appreciating their food.
”I doubt there’s ever been such a rich tapestry of food and flavour combinations at our disposal, yet we’re not savouring what we eat, which is not just a shame but a genuine waste of taste.
”Our lunchtime habits in particular show that workers consume food as a means to refuelling the body and most never, or rarely, taste what they’re eating.
Dr Lewis added: ”Apart from denying ourselves the pleasure that savouring tasty, well-cooked and presented food provides, there are other negative consequences of ‘mindless eating’.
”Because we eat inattentively the food is often insufficiently and inefficiently chewed. ’Mastication, the process in which the food in our mouth is broken into smaller fragments and thoroughly mixed with saliva, represents the first stage of digestion.
”Saliva contains a digestive enzyme essential for the proper absorption of the meal. If this stage is bypassed, as it typically is when consuming food inattentively, the results can range from indigestion and heartburn to an inadequate uptake of essential nutrients from the food.
“Poor mastication also means that we fail to savour and appreciate the true taste and texture of the meal.”
The market research aspect of the project revealed almost half of 1,000 adults polled described their lunch as ‘a means to an end’ to refuel their body.
It also emerged 59% spend less than 15 minutes eating lunch and just 21% spend just five to 10 minutes eating lunch.
The survey also discovered 42% of British workers eat at their place of work most days with just 13% leaving their desk for a bite to eat.