Eating Routines and Health

March 11/Food & Farm Week -- "Eating routines are a compelling issue because recurring eating behaviors influence nutrition and health. As non-traditional and individualized eating patterns have become more common, new ways of thinking about routine eating practices are needed," Cornell scientists writing in the journal Appetite report.

"This study sought to gain conceptual understanding of working adults' eating routines. Forty-two purposively sampled U.S. adults reported food intake and contextual details about eating episodes in qualitative 24-hour dietary recalls conducted over seven consecutive days. Using the constant comparative method, researchers analyzed interview transcripts for recurrent ways of eating that were either explicitly reported by study participants as 'routines' or emergent in the data. Participants' eating routines included repetition in food consumption, as well as eating context, and also involved sequences of eating episodes. Eating routines were embedded in daily schedules for work, family and recreation. Participants maintained purposeful routines that helped balance tension between demands and values, but they modified routines as circumstances changed. Participants monitored and reflected upon their eating practices and tended to assess their practices in light of their personal identities," wrote M.M. Jastran and colleagues, Cornell University.

The researchers concluded, "These findings provide conceptual insights for food choice researchers and present a perspective from which practitioners who work with individuals seeking to adopt healthful eating practices might usefully approach their tasks."

Jastran and colleagues published their study in Appetite ("Eating routines. Embedded, value based, modifiable, and reflective." Appetite, 2009;52(1):127-136).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting M.M. Jastran, Cornell University, Division Nutrition Science, Martha Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853.

From the March 16, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition