Salutogenic model of health to identify turning points and coping styles for eating practices in type 2 diabetes mellitus

C.M.M. Polhuis*, L. Vaandrager, S.S. Soedamah-Muthu, M.A. Koelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: It is important for people with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) to eat healthily. However, implementing dietary advice in everyday life is difficult, because eating is not a distinguishable action, but a chain of activities, embedded in social practices and influenced by previous life experiences. This research aims to understand why and how eating practices are developed over the life-course by investigating influential life experiences - turning points - and coping strategies for eating practices of people with T2DM. METHODS: The Salutogenic Model of Health guided the study's objective, study design and analysis. Seventeen interviews were performed and analysed based on the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Narrative inquiry and the creation of timelines and food boxes were used as tools to facilitate reflection on turning points and eating practices. RESULTS: Turning points for unhealthier eating were experiences that strongly disturbed the participants' emotional stability. These experiences included psychosocial trauma, physical health disorders, job loss, and smoking cessation. Turning points for healthier eating were experiences that significantly changed participants views on life and made participants reflective about the effects of current eating practices on future health and life goals. These turning points included confrontation with ill-health, becoming a parent, psychosocial therapy, and getting married. Notably, turning points for healthier eating seemed only to happen when life was relatively stress-free. All participants experienced turning points for healthier eating, yet, not all participants succeeded in improving their diets. Two coping styles were distinguished: active and passive coping. Active coping individuals were able to act in line with their personal intentions, whereas passive coping individuals could not. Differences between active and passive coping styles seemed to be explained by differences in available resources important for adapting and maintaining a healthy diet. CONCLUSION: Disadvantaged childhood and later life adversities together with the inability to manage the mental stress explained the development unhealthier eating practices. All participants experienced turning points for healthier eating that caused eating to become a priority in their life. Yet, the fact that not all were able to eat as they intended, advocates for nutritional guidance for people with T2DM, with a greater emphasis on reflexivity, psycho-social well-being and social support.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Coping
  • Dietary habits
  • Everyday life
  • Healthy eating
  • Mental health
  • Salutogenesis
  • Stress
  • T2DM
  • Turning points
  • Well-being


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