Creative methods in food research
Creative approaches are constantly evolving. In my research, I’ve used short films and collaging with community groups such as homeless individuals, women with drug addictions and mental health sufferers so that the attendees can discover the power of creative food dialogues. The conversations ignited by these approaches can set foundations for future wellbeing work.
My interest is in the way in which arts-based methods – including photography, film and collage (and others yet to be explored!) – can help reveal and give voice to perspectives on food issues, which remain otherwise absent from research and policy debates.
The use of such creative measures with our participants has shown that food can have a positive effect, acting as a catalyst to connect people. This generates a virtuous circle in which food promotes engagement and engagement promotes interest in self-care.
The role of a dietitian is briefly described as assessing, diagnosing and treating dietary and nutritional problems, promoting good health, wellbeing and preventing disease in individuals and communities. Using creative and participatory approaches to help do this is a new and innovative concept, which extends the remit of dietetic practice, something I’m passionate about exploring further. Here at the University of Plymouth we really do cover a diverse scope of nutrition and dietetic research, everything from lab-based food research to social justice and disease prevention.
So when you’re next preparing food, or even considering what to have for dinner, take a moment to remember the memories and feelings that you experience, or even take pictures to annotate and explore these. Or think about those individuals who are in a very different situation from yours and how they might feel about food. You’ll be surprised at what comes up, and how powerful it can be to re-connect mindfully to the food you eat – and sharing the stories and experiences that food brings about can help build social connections and change society for the better.
Why not add your food story one social media? #LetsShareFoodStories @DrCPettingerRD