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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Young adults' use of emotional food memories to build resilience

von Essen, Elisabeth; Martensson, Fredrika


The overall aim of this study is to specifically investigate how young adults make use of emotional relational food memories related to "significant others" during childhood when trying to build resilience and solve developmental tasks in this period of life. A theoretical sample of three semi-structured interviews drawn from a larger sample of 30 interviews with young adults in Sweden formed the basis for analysis, guided by the steps of a phenomenologically oriented critical narrative analysis. The results illustrate three different overall directions in how the relationship to food can evolve throughout life among young adults: a relationship dominated by 1) positive emotional food memories associated with the use of food as a secure base and 2) negative emotional food memories associated with either a) being emotionally preoccupied with food orb) dismissing food. The results suggest that internalised memories related to food associated with positive emotions can be used to build resilience, by helping young people to adapt and better manage developmental stress. Internalised food memories related to negative emotions can cause vulnerability, but also become the object of a person's reconstruction. The implications and potential risks of using food practice for developing resilience and a healthy lifestyle are discussed. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Attachment theory; Emotions; Healthy lifestyle; Life narrative; Mentalization; Turning point, Environmental psychology

Published in

2017, Volume: 112, pages: 210-218

      SLU Authors

    • Associated SLU-program

      Future Urban Sustainable Environment (FUSE) (until Jan 2017)

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG2 Zero hunger

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Applied Psychology

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)