A meal with sauce goes down faster

Eating an apple in its natural form takes much longer than consuming a serving of applesauce made from a single apple. The variation in eating time is primarily attributed to food texture. Lise Heuven, PhD student and RESTRUCTURE project partner, delved into the mechanics of eating speed and how it can be manipulated. Her groundbreaking findings were recently published and covered in the media.

The addition of sauce

Heuven’s research explored the impact of food hardness and the addition of sauce on eating speed within a pasta meal. Study participants were presented with various meal combinations, including both hard and soft-cooked pasta (penne) and carrots, with or without sauce. The researchers meticulously analyzed the participants’ eating pace for each meal variation.

This study demonstrates that the eating speed of a composite meal represents the weighted average of the eating speeds of its individual components. Lise Heuven, a PhD student specializing in Sensory Science and Eating Behavior, as well as Food Quality and Design, clarifies, “Previously, we believed that the eating speed of a meal was determined by the component that required the most time to consume. However, our findings contradict this notion. The consumption of individual hard carrot pieces is slower than that of a composite pasta meal containing both hard carrots and soft penne. “

Heuven concludes, “Regardless of whether it’s carrot or penne, the addition of sauce increases the eating speed by approximately 30 percent.”

She further explains, “To achieve a meal with a specific eating speed, one must address all the components involved. Ultimately, we aim to conduct an extensive two-week study examining the effects of eating pace on energy intake. In this preliminary study, our objective was to test how meals can be prepared to be consumed either quickly or slowly.”


With this new knowledge, meals could be tailored to suit different target groups. For individuals struggling with overweight, manipulating eating speed can prove useful in reducing energy intake. Conversely, for older adults or young children who exhibit resistance to consuming vegetables, increasing intake can be achieved by modifying food textures. For this demographic, meals comprising solely soft components, facilitating a high eating speed that is easier to promote higher intakes.

See the original article in Dutch: https://www.resource-online.nl/index.php/2023/06/05/structuur-bepaalt-eetsnelheid/

Read the full paper by RESTRUCTURE project partners: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2023.104883