It's who I am and what we eat. Mothers' food-related identities in family food choice. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study aimed to understand mothers' everyday food choices using one type of visual method-participant-driven photo-elicitation (PDPE). The sample consisted of 12 low/moderate income mothers (26-53 years) living in Bryan/College Station, Texas. Each mother completed a photography activity, where she created photographs of her food experience, and an in-depth interview using the mother's photographs. Interview transcripts were analyzed using a grounded theory approach and coded using qualitative data analysis software ATLAS.ti. Mothers emphasized their identities related to food and eating as they described food-related decisions and activities. These identities influenced a mother's food choices for herself and those she made for her children. Analysis revealed that mothers with a more defined health identity made healthier choices for themselves and similar food choices for their children. In addition, they exhibited behaviors that positively influenced their children's food choices. Mothers who struggled to see themselves as healthy indulged with more junk food and indicated feelings of anxiety and guilt; these mothers' food choices were more disconnected from their children's. These findings underscore the importance of understanding how identities related to food and eating can influence food choices. Encouraging mothers to develop and maintain health identities may be one way to improve food and eating habits in families.

published proceedings

  • Appetite

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, C. M., Sharkey, J. R., Dean, W. R., Alex McIntosh, W., & Kubena, K. S.

citation count

  • 58

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, Cassandra M||Sharkey, Joseph R||Dean, Wesley R||Alex McIntosh, W||Kubena, Karen S

publication date

  • January 2011