The Construction of Eating Episodes, Food Scripts, and Food Routines

  • Carole A. Bisogni
  • Margaret Jastran
  • Christine E. Blake


As traditional eating practices change, researchers and practitioners need new ways to understand how people adapt daily eating behaviors to their needs, preferences, lifestyles, and environments. The inductive Food Choice Process Model emphasizes understanding food and eating from people’s perspectives. In this model, food behavior is shaped by life course events and experiences and five types of influences: ideals, personal factors, resources, social factors, and contexts. The personal food system represents the many cognitive processes through which a person translates life course experiences and the influences into food behaviors. The personal food system includes construction of food choice values (e.g. taste, health, managing relationships, cost, convenience), negotiation of values, classification of foods, and development of strategies to achieve food choice values. A qualitative study of situational eating enabled researchers to elaborate upon additional components of the model. People experience situational eating as involving more than food. The concept of eating episodes recognizes the multiple dimensions of eating situations (i.e. food/drink, time, location, social setting, mental processes, physical condition, and other activities). Derived from schema theory, the concept of food scripts addresses the cognitive processes that guide food behavior. Food scripts represent the detailed knowledge that people construct related to specific situations including values, expectations, and how to proceed. Food routines are recurring episodes of food behavior and sequences of episodes that people engage in because these episodes have become the best-fit solutions for their food choice values and their schedules. Food routines simplify decisions and provide stability to people’s lives, but food routines are also modifiable as people’s circumstances change. The concepts of eating episodes, food scripts, and food routines advance the understanding of food choice by articulating some of the individualized cognitive and behavioral processes that are involved when a person is asked to modify behavior for health promotion.


Food Choice Fast Food Restaurant Evening Meal Food Behavior Situational Eating 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abelson RP. The psychological status of the script. Am Psychol. 1981;36:715–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Axelson M, Brinberg D. The measurement and conceptualization of nutrition knowledge. J Nutr Educ. 1992;24:239–46.Google Scholar
  3. Baldwin MW. Relational schemas and the processing of social information. Psychol Bul. 1992;112(3):461–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Betsch T, Fiedler K, Brinkmann J. Behavioral routines in decision making: the effects of novelty in task presentation and time pressure on routine maintenance and deviation. Eur J Soc Psychol. 1998;28:861–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bisogni CA, Connors M, Devine C, Sobal J. Who we are and how we eat: a qualitative study of identities in food choice. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002;34:128–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bisogni CA, Falk LW, Madore E, Blake C, Jastran M, Sobal J, Devine CM. Dimensions of everyday eating and drinking episodes. Appetite 2007;48(2):218–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blake CE. Individual differences in the conceptualization of food across eating contexts. Food Qual Pref. 2008;19:62–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blake CE, Bisogni CA. Personal and family food choice schemas of rural women living in Upstate New York. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2003;35(6):282–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blake CE, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Devine CM, Jastran M. Classifying foods in contexts: how adults categorize foods for different eating settings. Appetite 2007;49(2):500–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blake CE, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Jastran M, Devine CM. How adults construct evening meals. Scripts for food choice. Appetite 2008;51:654–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bove C, Sobal J. Foodwork in newly married couples: making family meals. Food Culture Soc. 2006;9(1):69–89.Google Scholar
  12. Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Devine CM. Managing values in personal food systems. Appetite (June) 2001:189–200.Google Scholar
  13. Denham S. Relationships between family rituals, family routines, and health. J Fam Nurs. 2003;9(3):305–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Devine CM. The life course perspective: understanding food choices in time, social location, and history. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2005;37(3):121–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Devine CM, Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Life-course influences on fruit and vegetable trajectories: a qualitative analysis of food choices. J Nutr Educ. 1998;31(January–February):361–70.Google Scholar
  16. Devine CM, Wolfe WS, Frongillo EA, Bisogni CA. Life-course events and experiences: association with fruit and vegetable consumption in 3 ethnic groups. J Am Diet Ass. 1999;99:303–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Devine CM, Farrell TJ, Blake CE, Jastran M, Wethington E, Bisogni CA. Work conditions and the food choice coping strategies of employed parents. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2009;41:365–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Falk LW, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Food choice processes of older adults. J Nutr Educ. 1996;28:257–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Falk LW, Bisogni CA, Sobal J. Personal, social, and situational influences associated with diet changes of participants in an intensive heart program. J Nutr Educ. 2000;32:251–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Falk LW, Connors M, Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Devine CM. Managing healthy eating: definitions, classifications and strategies. Health Educ Behav. 2001;28(4):425–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fiese BH, Foley KP, Spagnola M. Routine and ritual elements in family mealtimes: contexts for child well-being and family identity. In: Larson RW, Wiley AR, Branscomb KR, editors. Family mealtime as a context of development and socialization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2006. p. 67–90.Google Scholar
  22. Furst TM, Connors M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Falk LW. Food choice: a conceptual model of the process. Appetite 1996;26:247–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Furst TM, Connors M, Sobal J, Bisogni CA, Falk LW. Food classifications: levels and categories. Ecol Food Nutr. 2000;39:331–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gallimore RE, Lopez M. Everyday routines, human agency and eccocultural context: construction and maintenance of individual habits. Occ Ther J Res. 2002;22 (Proceedings of habits conference):70S–7S.Google Scholar
  25. Giddens A. Modernity and self identity. Cambridge: Polity; 1991.Google Scholar
  26. Gillman M, Rifas-Shiman S, Frazier A, Rockett H, Camargo C, Berkey C, Golditz G. Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Arch Fam Med. 2000;9(3):235–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holmberg D, MacKenzie S. So far, so good: scripts for romantic relationship development as predictors of relational well-being. J Soc Pers Rel. 2002;19(6):777–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ilmonen K. Sociology, consumption and routine. In: Gronow J, Warde A, editors. Ordinary consumption. London: Routledge; 2001. p. 9–24.Google Scholar
  29. Jabs J, Devine CM, Bisogni CA, Farrell TJ, Jastran M, Wethington E. Trying to find the quickest way: employed mothers’ constructions of time for food. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007;39(1):18–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Janas BG, Bisogni CA, Campbell CC. Conceptual model for dietary change to lower serum cholesterol. J Nutr Educ. 1993;25:186–92.Google Scholar
  31. Jastran M, Bisogni CA, Sobal J, Blake C, Devine CM. Eating routines: embedded, value based, modifiable, and reflective. Appetite 2009;52:127–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Khare A, Inman JJ. Habitual behavior in American eating patterns: the role of meal occasions. J Consum Res. 2006;32(4):567–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lakshmi-Ratan R, Iyer E. Similarity analysis of cognitive scripts. J Acad Mark Sci 16(2):36–42.Google Scholar
  34. Lewin K, Heider F, Heider GM. Principles of topological psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Magnusson D, Torestad B. Individuals as interactive agents. In: Wals WB, Craik KH, Price RH, editors. Person-environment psychology: models and perspectives. Hillsdale: Erlbaum;1992. p. 89–126.Google Scholar
  36. Markus H. Self-schemata and processing information about the self. J Person Soc Psychol. 1977;35(2):63–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meiselman H. The contextual basis for food acceptance, food choice and food intake. In: Meiselman HL, editor. Food choice, acceptance and consumption. London: Blackie; 1996. p. 239–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nishida H. A cognitive approach to intercultural communication based on schema theory. I JIR 1999;23(5):753–77.Google Scholar
  39. Olson JC. The importance of cognition processes and existing knowledge structures for understanding food acceptance. In: Solms J, Hall RL, editors. Criteria of food acceptance. Zurich: Forester; 1981. p. 69–81.Google Scholar
  40. Rumelhart DE. Schema and the cognitive system. In: Wyer JR, Siwl TK, editors. Handbook of social cognition. Hillsdale: Erlbaum; 1984. p. 161–88.Google Scholar
  41. Schank R, Abelson R. Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding. Hillsdale: Erlbaum; 1977.Google Scholar
  42. Smart LR, Bisogni CA. Personal food systems of male college hockey players. Appetite 2001;36(August):57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sobal JS, Bisogni CA, Devine CM, Jastran M. A conceptual model of the food choice process over the life course. In: Shepherd R, Raats MM, editors. Psychology of food choice. Oxfordshire: CABI; 2006. p. 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sobal JS, Bisogni CA. Constructing food decision making. Ann Behav Med. 2009;38(1):37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sparks P, Shepherd R. Self-identity and the theory of planned behavior: assessing the role of identification with “Green Consumerism.” Soc Psych Q 1992;55(4):388–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Spradley JP. Culture and cognition: rules, maps, and plans. Prospect Heights: Waveland; 1972.Google Scholar
  47. Strauss AL, Corbin J. Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and research. Newbury Park: Sage; 1990.Google Scholar
  48. Trzebinski J. Action-oriented representations of implicit personality theories. J Person Soc Psych. 1985;48(5):1266–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wagner SA. Understanding green consumer behaviour: a qualitative cognitive approach. New York: Routledge; 2005.Google Scholar
  50. Zisberg A, Young HM, Schepp K, Zysberg L. A concept analysis of routine: relevance to nursing. J Adv Nurs. 2007;57(4):442–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole A. Bisogni
    • 1
  • Margaret Jastran
  • Christine E. Blake
  1. 1.Division of Nutritional SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations