To Change Eating Habits

February 10/Wageningen, Netherlands/Food Weekly News -- According to a Netherlands study, "The gap between the awareness and understanding of healthful eating on the one hand and actual eating practices on the other has been addressed in several ways in the literature. In this paper, we consider it from an everyday life perspective."

"Using discourse analysis, we analyse how Dutch consumers account for their everyday food choices. We show how Dutch consumers use three interpretative repertoires to confirm the importance of health, while not portraying themselves as too self- and health-conscious eaters. The first repertoire associates healthful eating with common knowledge and 'scripted' actions, thereby suggesting that such eating is self-evident rather than difficult. The second repertoire constructs eating for health and pleasure as uncomplicated, by emphasizing consumers' relaxed way of dealing with both. The third repertoire constructs unhealthful eating practices as naturally requiring compensation in the form of certain products Or pills. We discuss how the use of these repertoires may pose socio-interactional barriers to the pursuance of healthful eating behaviour. The depiction of one's eating habits as uncomplicated, self-evidently healthful and -- when bad -- easy to compensate for, does not seem to provide a basis for critical considerations about these eating habits," wrote L.I. Bouwman and colleagues, Wageningen University.

The researchers concluded, "If structural change in eating practices is to be achieved, nutrition promotion must invest in creating a new social standard that both avoids 'overdoing' bio-medical health and challenges people's construction of their eating habits as naturally healthful."

Bouwman and colleagues published their study in Appetite ("I Eat Healthfully but I am Not a Freak. Consumers' Everyday Life Perspective on Healthful Eating." Appetite, 2009;53(3):390-398).

For more information, contact L.I. Bouwman, Wageningen University, Dept. of Social Science, Subdept Commun Science, Bode 79, POB 8130, NL-6700 EW Wageningen, Netherlands.

From the February 15, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition