Exploring the meal concept: an interdisciplinary literature overview

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The meal concept is used in varying contexts, and within several scientific fields, however often without a clear definition of what it includes. The meal has been identified as a subject in multiple research areas such as nutrition, medicine, sensory science, history, design product development, food service, biology, physiology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, marketing and so forth 1. A meal may be defined and identified by the time of the day, by its energy content and how the food is combined as well as by its social interactions, implying that it may be understood in relation to the food itself as well as to the social and cultural context 2. The meal has also been discussed in relation to the concept of “snacks”, where a meal has been defined as a “structured food event”, while “snacks” represent “unstructured food events”3 . Some attempts have been made in order to define the meal and also to present a more holistic model of what it includes. One way of defining the meal is by using certain cues related to food as well as the environment 4. Another example is the Five Aspects Meal Model (FAMM) which was developed as a model in the early 2000s 5, with the ambition to capture an entirety of the meal by including the room, the meeting, the product, the logistics and the atmosphere in defining and understanding a meal. Although there have been many attempts trying to find a general and precise definition, the complexity makes it difficult, and maybe impossible, to capture the meal concept in a single definition 6. Different disciplines focus on various aspects, which may complicate a common understanding 7,8,9.

It has been stated that meals are only one form of eating 10, and that the meal alone does not capture the diversity of todays’ eating. Still, it is recurrently used as a point of reference and as a norm for discussions concerning food and eating. The meal concept is however in constant change and must be understood in relation to societal patterns and norms, how we organize our eating and what role food plays as a social and cultural glue 2, but also in relation to our perception of health, sustainability, convenience and so forth. Other concepts, such as “eating episodes” 11,12, “eating occasions” see f ex. 13 and “eating events” 14 have also been used as attempts to illuminate the complexity of food habits. Nonetheless, the meal is still universally used and recurrent in various research works, and therefore it is of importance to investigate how the concept is actually used and understood in the different areas related to food- and meal science, an interdisciplinary field studying food and meals within Food scienceNutrition and health, and Food culture and communication.

Antal sidor6
StatusPublicerad - 2015
EvenemangThe IX International Conference on Culinary Arts and Sciences (ICCAS) -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan.-01 → …


KonferensThe IX International Conference on Culinary Arts and Sciences (ICCAS)
Period80-01-01 → …

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