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Just the “Typical College Diet”: How College Students Use Life Stages to Account for Unhealthy Eating

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


I performed a qualitative content analysis of 136 college students' food diary reflection papers to examine the accounts used when explaining dietary failures. In addition to common justifications (denials of injury, appeals to higher loyalties, and condemning the condemners) and excuses (denials of responsibility and postponement), diarists referred to their status as a college student and the “typical college student lifestyle” as the major reason for eating an unhealthy diet. Exploring how students use life stages to neutralize stigma adds a new temporal and context‐focused dimension to studies of accounts and provides direction for potential health interventions.