Eating three meals a day is a thing of the past as Brits sacrifice their diet for hectic lifestyles, it emerged yesterday.
The standard breakfast, lunch and dinner template is dead, with the average person eating less than two meals a day.
Researchers found Brits are adjusting their eating habits – half no longer eat a proper breakfast because of a lack of time, while many avoid the meal completely.
And fast-paced lifestyles and snacking culture mean a quarter of Brits manage just two properly cooked meals a week.
The study of 2,000, commissioned by leading health & wellbeing mutual organisation Benenden Healthcare Society, found the average person only eats 11 full meals in a typical week, with the reliance on microwaveable food an increasing part of modern diets.
Yesterday Jane Cooper, Member Services Manager for Benenden Healthcare, said: “The days of eating three square meals appear to be behind us, with the average Brit’s modern lifestyle changing the way we approach our diet.
“Just two meals a day is becoming the norm with the all-important breakfast being the first meal abandoned in our daily rush. One in five Brits claim they don’t get hungry in the morning and so miss the opportunity to give their metabolism a good kick-start to get the day going.
“We are also losing the social side of diet as we tackle the daily grind, only snacking when we’re able to; just five meals a week are being spent in the company of other people.”
Breakfast is the meal most Brits skip with a fifth claiming they never get hungry in the morning.
And eating patterns have changed – a tenth of people snack all through the day and one in five consume their daytime food at their desk while working.
One in ten say they often don’t get hungry at work and tend to skip lunch, while thirty per cent regularly go without any lunch at all.
The tendency to eat on the move or snack regularly is removing the social element of eating – remarkably, the average Brit spends just five meals a week sitting down in the company of other people.
When it comes to dinner, a third of Brits say their snacking often stops them feeling hungry enough to bother with dinner – working late and fatigue are other huge barriers to eating a proper evening meal.
In fact, a fifth admit they are simply too lazy to think about cooking.
Over half of respondents said their diet suffers because of their busy lifestyle, while one in twenty Brits has fallen ill in the past because of the poor quality of their diet.
And an indication of where our diets are heading can be seen in the fifth of Brits using the microwave for more of their cooking than they used to.
Worryingly, one in five says they often swap dinner for alcohol when they are going for a night out.
And a third of Brits have cut down on the meals they eat in a dramatic bid to lose weight.
The average person cooks four times a week, but one in four people manage just two cooked meals a week.
The trend seems to be towards eating one big meal a day before topping up with snacks for a quarter of the study, while one in five eat little and often, choosing many small meals over the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Jane Cooper added: “The hectic modern lifestyle does the average Brit absolutely no favours. Proper cooking is on the decrease, microwaveable foods are on the rise and the quality of our diet suffers enormously.
“This lifestyle can lead to a range of underlying health issues, resulting from a poor intake of key nutrition. Additionally, the lack of proper family meals or taking the time out to prepare a good spread means we lose the opportunity to unwind from the day’s stresses and catch up with others.”