An Aboriginal Perspective of the Influences of Food Intake

Title: An Aboriginal Perspective of the Influences of Food Intake
Authors: Sultan-Khan, Maria-Elena
Date: 2014
Abstract: Background: The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the existing research on the determinants and influential factors of eating decisions made by Aboriginal peoples and provide insight from the perspective of Aboriginal peoples living off-reserve in Ottawa, Ontario. Methods: This study was comprised of a convenience sample of 12 Aboriginal individuals from a local Aboriginal community centre. Participants were asked to conduct a personal food diary of their meals for a period of 3 days, followed by a one-on-one semi-structured interview. The interviews were designed to explore: 1) knowledge and perspectives of healthy eating 2) knowledge and perspectives of Health Canada’s Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide – First Nations, Inuit and Métis, 3) perception of influential factors 4) self-efficacy and 5) common barriers in making food choices. Results: 1) Except for the senior participants, healthy food knowledge did not translate into healthy food choices for most participants; 2) Most participants had not seen a copy of the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide – First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and all participants felt they were not influenced by it when making eating decisions; 3) The main themes of influential factors were concluded to be: taste preference, availability, convenience, “had no choice”, health reasons, “easy to make”, low in cost, following a diet or “food schedule,” hunger or thirst, “needed something quick”, nearby location (of store or restaurant), being tired or lazy and being in a routine; 4) Most participants perceived themselves as having control over their eating decisions regardless of situational factors and level of motivation varied between participants; 5) Time, financial constraints, having a busy schedule and being unprepared for meals were identified as possible barriers. Conclusions: Either version of the food guide should be developed into a more flexible and convenient tool such as a mobile application. Local community centres should consider providing workshops in food preparation, and to strengthen skills such as understanding food labels of market foods to ease the transition to living off-reserve. Future Implications: Policy makers at the federal, provincial and municipal levels should work together and strengthen their communication strategies in order to coordinate the development and implementation of future interventions.
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