You’ve probably read that eating slowly can keep you from overeating, but it turns out it also makes for a more pleasurable sensory experience.
Photo by William Warby.
This is because your tongue is a little clunky. It’s great or detecting the six basic flavours (sweet, salt, sour, bitter, umami, and maybe fat) but, according to a study published in October of this year, when it comes to detecting more complex aromas, you need a little help from your nose, and not just by way of sniffing.
Click below to read the full study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (or the abstract if you don’t feel like paying ten bucks), but the upshot is this: when you breathe in through your nose, the flow creates a wall of air in between your mouth and throat, preventing volatiles form entering your lungs. When you exhale, the air sweeps through the back of the mouth and carries those volatiles to your nose, where they may be enjoyed.
If you’re shoveling food down your throat, you disrupt this pattern and all of those wonderful volatiles don’t get stored and routed properly. I don’t know if this is crucial for the enjoyment of of a Big Mac , but if your enjoying a nice meal with lots of complex flavours, slow down, breathe, and savour.
Optimal Directional Volatile Transport in Retronasal Olfaction [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences via NPR]