‘Nostalgic food heals for us’: A qualitative exploration of experiences with nostalgia, food, and mood

Kate Simpson, Douglas Angus, Megan Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Issue Addressed
Nostalgia—the bittersweet reliving of the past—has been linked to social connection and psychological wellbeing. Although food consumption is often an intrinsically social experience, relatively little research has examined how individuals experience and understand how food consumption relates to feelings of nostalgia, food and mood.

In the current study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight Australians from varying cultural backgrounds to explore their experiences with nostalgia, food and mood.

Reflexive thematic analysis identified three key themes from the data: (i) The bittersweet experiences of food-evoked nostalgia—individuals' descriptions of food-evoked nostalgia and how it impacted their mood both positively and negatively (ii) social connection and identity continuity—participants' description of food-evoked nostalgia and how this provides an opportunity for social connection and identity continuity throughout life, which positively influences mood, and (iii) the role and relationship of food-evoked nostalgia and mood—individual descriptions of the important role that nostalgic food plays in their life, in addition to their relationship with food, and how this impacts mood.

Understanding the positive component of nostalgic foods allowed individuals to bolster positive mood states with food-evoked nostalgia, increasing their quality of life.

So What?
Understanding the link between food-evoked nostalgia and mood has significant implications, suggesting that negative mood states altered by nostalgic foods may result in positive mood states. Appropriate use of food-evoked nostalgia may increase the quality of life for individuals experiencing low mood states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Early online date21 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2024


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