Girl eating soup watching television with headphones on

Is your week day lunch a GLORIOUS! affair or does it tend to be bland and boring?

Is your week day lunch a GLORIOUS! affair or does it tend to be bland and boring?

We’ve conducted some research into the UK’s lunchtime eating habits and were disappointed to find that 60% of us admit to never or rarely tasting what we eat, with almost half of us describing our lunch as a ‘means to an end’ to refuel the body.

All of this didn’t sound very GLORIOUS! to us so we thought we should dig a little deeper and conduct some lab-based research into how we taste our food.

Our research showed that 42% of us eat our lunch at our desk and 60% of us spend less than 15 minutes eating our lunch so we set up an experiment to replicate these conditions in the lab.

Our participants were asked to sample a range of sandwiches (the UK’s most popular lunchtime fail safe) and tell us what they could taste. The results were surprising …

Our participants were able to only correctly identify 35% of ingredients and most did not detect when some of the flavours had been swapped around – 93% were unable to discern beef from Chinese pork, 92% couldn’t tell ham from tuna, 82% could not detect Quorn from chicken, while 78% could not distinguish pork from chicken.

Our researchers found that, on average, 79% of people were unable to detect when basic flavours had been swapped, this rose to 88% when people ate whilst distracted, increasing to 93% for people eating under time pressure.

We are passionate about the fact that Britain is a multicultural melting pot of global cuisine, with the widest range of great tasting food and flavours at the public’s finger tips – but are we losing the ability to taste?

We want to encourage the UK public to get back in touch with their taste buds and so have launched the world’s first online Flavour Map – a global, crowdsourced resource – to inspire as well as re-educate consumers about flavour and taste, as well as unearthing little-known global flavours to launch for the UK market.

The interactive flavour map – www.gloriousfoods.co.uk/flavourmap – a ‘Tripadvisor for taste’ allows people to pin flavours ‘from around the globe or around the corner’ such as meals, recipes, or natural produce, and search for flavour inspiration of their own.

And if that doesn’t tantalise your taste buds, why not try these top tips from Dr David Lewis, the psychologist behind our lab experiment …

1. Eat mindfully by truly focusing on what you are eating. Avoid distractions such as reading, watching TV etc.

2. Set aside time to enjoy the food without rushing. Leave at least 15 minutes for even a snack, a full meal should take 30 minutes or more.

3. Relax when you are eating. Do not keep glancing at your watch or thinking about all you have to do after the meal.

4. Chew the food carefully. Remember that chewing is the first stage of digestion. An enzyme in the saliva starts the process by breaking down the food morsels.

5. Take small mouthfuls. The larger what is termed the food ‘bolus’ the less effectively it is chewed and savoured.

6. Avoid talking while chewing. Not only does it prevent you paying full attention to your food but also causes you to swallow air, leading to a greater risk of embarrassing belches.

7. Efficient chewing not only allow you to savour the taste, aroma and texture of the food but also enables the body to absorb the nutrients better.

8. Avoid drinking too much while eating. Fluid not only distends the stomach but also dilutes the digestive enzyme in the mouth and essential acid in the stomach.

9. Do not over salt the food. Not only does it spoil the taste but, with some kinds of salt, risks increasing blood pressures.

10. Eat with your eyes as much as your mouth. Anticipating how the food will taste not only adds to your enjoyment of the meal but also triggers the release of enzymes so ensuring good digestion.

11. Leave the food in your mouth for enough time to experience all the aroma. What we think of as taste is mostly smell. The tongue is only receptive to basic tastes, such as sweet and sour, the rest of the enjoyment comes from cells lining the nasal passages. Molecules of food broken down by chewing take time to reach these cells, so slow down and enjoy more.

12. By enjoying the experience of eating you will not only enhance the pleasure you derive from your food but also encourage a greater sense of overall well-being. That old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is not quite true. More accurately you are what you ingest and digest. Both these processes work best when they are allowed to work slowly.

Visit our recipe wall for some delicious lunchtime ideas by our head development chef, Simon Gamble, including Malaysian Chicken SoupKofta and Turkish Pepper, Tomato & Chickpea Salad.