Inconspicuous sustainability in food practices of Dutch consumers with type 2 diabetes

A.J. Brons*, P.J.M. Oosterveer, S.C.O. Wertheim-Heck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Efforts to involve consumers in the transition towards sustainable diets often presume a degree of reflexivity on the concepts of health and sustainability in the minds of consumers ‘doing healthy and sustainable food’. Departing from the hypothesis that people with type 2 diabetes have been confronted with a physical health issue which has spurred some reflexivity around food consumption, we study how this reflexivity subsequently relates to sustainability in food practices, through the process of de- and reroutinization of mundane food practices. We take a practice-theoretical approach to compare and contrast reflexivity and performance in food practices, combining in-depth interviews with observations during food shopping and cooking. Our findings illustrate a diversity in the extent to which food practices are disrupted after being diagnosed with diabetes. We conclude that reflexivity is not necessarily inspired only by being diagnosed with a major health issue, but that there are more factors determining whether or not lifestyle changes actually take place, such as experiencing bodily discomforts and broader societal attention to lifestyle change. In terms of sustainability, positive environmental effects could be identified ‘piggybacking’ onto changes in practices that were performed towards a healthier diet, such as diversifying protein intake and eating less processed foods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-39
JournalEnvironmental Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Reflexivity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • sustainable food consumption
  • social practices
  • SES
  • sustainable diets
  • routines


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