‘You Are What You Eat?’
: Experiences of diet culture among millennial women

  • Hannah Kristofers

Student thesis: Master, one year


Background: Food carries significant symbolic weight in our lives. The relationship between the body, food, and eating has developed and changed throughout history, as have certain ideals and concepts that can affect the relationship between food and the body, such as the thin ideal and weight stigma. As a result of the relationship between the body and food, together with the development of concepts and ideals concerning the body, the concept of diet culture has emerged. Objective: The aim of this study is to explore the experiences millennial women, that is women born between 1981 and 1996, have had with diet culture, and how those experiences have influenced their relationship with their bodies, food and eating. Methods: A qualitative study involving in depth, one-on-one interviews with six millennial women, followed by a thematic analysis of the data. Results: Several key themes were identified in the data gathered in the interviews, including: 1. The thin ideal, 2. Mother’s influence, 3. Female peer influence 4. Male influence, 5. Positive reinforcement, and 6. Guilt and compensation. Conclusions: Diet culture can have adverse effects on women’s relationship with their bodies, food, and eating. The women in this study had experienced body dissatisfaction related to the thin ideal and had engaged in restrictive eating practices. Their relationship with food and their bodies were influenced by their social network, and they received validation and praise when they lost weight, and experienced guilt and shame when they ate what they deemed to be “bad” or “unhealthy” foods.
Date of Award2022-Dec
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMaria Nyberg (Supervisor) & Karin Wendin (Examiner)

Educational program

  • Master Program in Food and Meal Science

University credits

  • 15 HE credits

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Nutrition and Dietetics (30304)


  • food
  • eating
  • diet culture
  • weight stigma
  • body dissatisfaction
  • millennial women

Cite this