Detraditionalization of the Flemish eating pattern

Destructuration of the Belgian meal pattern? Changes in the temporal, social and spatial aspects of eating practices by means of time-use data.

Inge Mestdag

Meals are social occasions, during which food is shared. Rules prescribing time, place, content, company and order of activities govern the meal. As such, the meal is a structured event, as opposed to snacks. Eating is often equated with proper meals. Recently however, the idea that the meal is disappearing, for the benefit of the snack, is gaining ground. To what extent Flemish eating habits have followed this trend in the last decades is the topic of this research project. The analysis of Belgian and Flemish time budget data is the basis for solving this research question. Comparing Belgian data from from 1966 and 1999, and Flemish data from 1988, 1999 and 2004 will allow us to draw conclusions on the changes in Flemish eating habits. Are our eating patterns subject to processes of destructuration and detrationalization? Are Flemish eating habits characterized by a growing number of eating events, more flexible temporal and spatial location, more solitary eating, less time to eat, the combining of secundary activities while eating, … ? Moreover, we want to verify to what extent current eating practices deviate from the norms kept by individuals on that subject. For that purpose a representative sample of Flemish have been questioned on their norms towards the meal. As these individuals have also completed a time budget diary, we will be able to compare to what extent individual norms deviate from individual eating practices. We will also verify which factors promote this deviation or rather promote harmony in norms and practices.