Family meal traditions. Comparing reported childhood food habits to current food habits among university students

Publication Date: Tuesday 1 October 2013
Author(s): De Backer, C.J.S.
Appeared in: Appetite, vol.: 69, issue: 1, 64-70

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate if reported childhood food habits predict the food habits of students at present. Questions addressed are: does the memory of childhood family meals promote commensality among students? Does the memory of (grand)parents’ cooking influence students’ cooking? And, is there still a gender difference in passing on everyday cooking skills? Using a cross-sectional survey, 104 students were asked about their current eating and cooking habits, and their eating habits and the cooking behavior of their (grand)parents during their childhood. Results show that frequencies in reported childhood family meals predict frequencies of students’ commensality at present. The effects appear for breakfast and dinner, and stay within the same meal: recalled childhood family breakfasts predict current breakfast commensality, recalled childhood family dinners predict current dinner commensality. In terms of recalled cookery of (grand)parents and the use of family recipes a matrilineal dominance can be observed. Mothers are most influential, and maternal grandmothers outscore paternal grandmothers. Yet, fathers’ childhood cooking did not pass unnoticed either. They seem to influence male students’ cookery. Overall, in a life-stage of transgression students appear to maintain recalled childhood food rituals. Suggestions are discussed to further validate these results.

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