The Role of Mindfulness in Consumers’ Experiences of Food Well-Being: An Abstract
Food well-being (FWB) is defined by Block and colleagues (2011) as “a positive psychological, physical, emotional, and social relationship with food at both the individual and societal levels” (p. 6). But to our knowledge, this definition has not yet explored the experiential dimension of food consumption from the consumers’ perspective. Our objective is to clarify this experiential approach to consumer FWB, drawing on psychology and philosophy research into well-being (and specifically the eudaimonic approach to well-being) and recent developments concerning the role of mindfulness on this construct.
Through a consumer-centric and interpretive approach, we combined phenomenological interviews, photo-elicitation, and personal diaries to better understand the FWB manifestation in consumers’ lived experiences. Informants were therefore asked to think aloud about a well-being event connected with food, and their narratives were recorded as data.
The emerging findings reveal that memories of experiences of FWB pointed to features of components of mindfulness (Baer et al. 2006; Brown and Ryan 2003): enhanced attention to and awareness of current experience or present reality, being attentive to communication and sensitively aware, observing visual elements, describing beliefs and opinions, nonjudging, and nonreacting to the inner experience. FWB experiences place the consumer in a centerpiece of his own consumption, whether they take place at the time of food acquisition, preparation, eating, or post-eating. The meanings of FWB vary: a search for authenticity in acquisition, a culinary challenge in preparation, a gustatory pleasure, a pleasure associated with commensality, or effects of food on the body in eating phase and finally one’s orientation toward responsible behavior in a post-eating phase. We propose to enrich FWB developed by Block et al. (2011), considering it not only a positive relationship with food but also a eudaimonic experience in which mindfulness activities play a role and may apply to the different phases of food consumption.
Our findings may help public authorities and healthcare professionals, as well as consumer associations and any other stakeholder involved in food consumption/production, to integrate mindfulness in experiences of food consumption.
References Available Upon Request