Course Syllabus

Psychology of Food:

A Biopsychosocial Perspective


DIS Logo


Picture Source:

Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Psychology, Sociology


One psychology course at a university level.

Faculty Members:

Hannaneh Yazdi (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Program Contact:

Time & Place:

Time: Tuesdays and Fridays 10:05-11:25

Room: 1D-509


Course Description: 

Are we really what you eat, and if so, what does that mean? Food carries historical and cultural meanings: from some food pornographers and ethically-inspired vegans to the public health challenges of toxic food environments, diet culture, and malnourishment, we all have a relationship to food that surpasses mere physiology. This course will explore the psychological, neurocognitive, and sociocultural aspects of our relationship with food to understand its meaning in our everyday lives better. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the psychological factors influencing food choices.
  2. Evaluate the impact of cultural and social contexts on eating behaviors.
  3. Recognize the connection between stress and eating patterns.
  4. Identify the psychological dimensions of eating disorders.
  5. Demonstrate critical thinking and research skills by exploring a topic of the team's (3-4 students) choice in the field of the psychology of food that is not covered in the below section, Lecture Topics.

Lecture topics: 

These specific topics will be presented by the course instructor and the guest lecturers*

  1. Origin of Food and Cooking
  2. Sensory Systems and Food Perception
  3. A Psychological Perspective on Eating*
  4. Emotional Eating and Stress
  5. Eating Disorders: Psychological Perspectives
  6. Veganism
  7. Family Dynamics and Obesity in Children*
  8. Social and Cultural Influences on Food Choices 


  • The topics are ordered according to the course schedule to present students with an overview of course learning objectives flow.
  • A brief description of each topic and reading materials are available on each session schedule.
  • The lecture slides will be accessible after each session in the Files under the Lecture Slides section on Canvas in PDF format.
  • The "Veganism" session is designed for watching a documentary/film in the classroom, followed by a discussion led by the instructor.
  • Topics that will be presented by each team will be added (in total, six more topics based on a class size of 22-25 students. 


Hannaneh Yazdi_1-Edit-1.JPG

Hannaneh Yazdi has been a member of the DIS faculty since the spring of 2023, lecturing and designing courses in the Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience Program throughout the semester and summer. She brings her working experiences in research and development, product creation, leadership, and team empowerment, as well as inclusive community design, into her classrooms. With an interdisciplinary background spanning human behavior, management, and engineering, she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet, division of Psychology, finalizing the last year of her research. Aside from her research focus, she has been frequently invited as a guest lecturer and speaker at various universities and companies. She brings a unique blend of experiences, having been immersed in both academic settings and the corporate world for over eight years at Volvo Cars within the Research and Development organization. Beyond her professional pursuits, she has a passion for music, strong yoga practices, and a deep appreciation for the arts, particularly painting and digital arts. For those curious about her previous and current activities, more information can be found on her profile on LinkedIn.


Universal Design Teaching Approach: Fusion of Active and Passive Learning

In a rapidly evolving world, providing students with both knowledge and active skills is important. This class is not designed according to a traditional classroom, and the students need to expect to have a balanced mix of engaging lectures and dynamic team activities. From team presentations to journal clubs, this class will be a space for not only learning but also building essential soft skills for current and future development both at personal and team levels. Therefore, this class is community-based and value-driven.

  • Passive Learning: Passive learning involves receiving information from the instructor or guest lecturers without actively engaging with the knowledge. It's a more traditional form of education where students are listeners and observers rather than active participants. Examples of passive learning include attending lectures, watching educational videos, or reading textbooks. While passive learning can provide foundational knowledge, it often requires additional effort for students to understand and retain information fully.
  • Active Learning: Active learning is a dynamic and participatory approach where students are directly involved in the learning process. This method requires students to engage with the material through discussions, problem-solving, team projects, and hands-on experiences. Active learning promotes critical thinking, collaboration, and a deeper understanding of the subject. It encourages students to apply knowledge in practical situations, fostering a more comprehensive and lasting grasp of the concepts. As part of the active learning approach and the presented course learning objectives for a class size of 22-25 students, nine out of the 23 sessions will be led by students in teams (Journal Club and Research Project Presentation), which is in total 1.5 sessions throughout the whole semester for each team(constituting 45% of the total grade). Instructions are provided for each session as guidance, and during the semester, feedback and support will be provided. Each team is required to demonstrate critical thinking and research skills by exploring a topic of their choice in the psychology of food that is not covered in the Lecture Topics section.

In the "Psychology of Food" course, the fusion of active and passive learning ensures a well-rounded educational experience. While the course instructor and guest lectures provide essential information, activities like team presentations, journal clubs, and field studies actively involve students applying and discussing the knowledge gained. This blended approach aims to create a universal design for different learning styles and enhance the overall learning experience according to DIS's mission statement: "By inspiring each student’s curiosity and love of learning, DIS fosters academic achievement, intercultural understanding, and development of life skills essential for engaged citizenship".

Reflecting on the above-explained approach in this class, the 23 sessions of the class are divided into:

  • 2x sessions for kick-off and team building by instructors;
  • 7x Lectures, including two guest lecturers, were presented above as Lecture Topics;
  • 2x sessions for field studies;
  • 1x session for watching a documentary/film and guided discussion by the instructor;
  • 1x Retrospective Learning Session;
  • 3x* sessions for Journal Clubs led by each team as part of the preparation for their research project (two teams for each class session);
  • 6x* sessions for research project presentations led by each team as part of the active learning approach (one team for each class session);
  • 1x session for wrap-up.

*Sessions are calculated based on a class size of 22-25 students.


Expectations: Value-Driven Classroom

This class will shape a county through the semester, built on values – trust, curiosity, and collaboration. Self-motivation is crucial, and the instructor and the students will ensure their space is where everyone feels heard, seen, and understood by trusting the process, staying curious, and embracing collaboration for a meaningful learning experience.

  1. Trust: Commitment, respect for oneself and others, and taking responsibility are integral. It's about creating a safe psychology within the classroom, where everyone feels secure to express themselves.
  2. Curiosity: Embrace differences and see them as opportunities for growth. This class values demographic, cognitive, and neurodiversity, as they bring different perspectives, fostering creativity and innovation.
  3. Collaboration: Collaboration is vital in this interconnected community by enabling the development of collaborative skills such as decision-making, communication, and problem-solving. 

If these values are embodied, a positive classroom environment is naturally contributed to through punctuality, engagement, and commitment to the learning process, with communication being the key.

Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 19.19.24.png                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Picture Source: DIS Internet


Guest Lecturers

 Ata Ghaderi.jpg

Professor Ata Ghaderi is a clinical psychologist and licensed psychotherapist (CBT). He is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska institutet. His research group mainly focuses on understanding the psychopathology and emergence of eating disorders, as well as their prevention and treatment. We extend a warm welcome to Professor Ata Ghaderi, who will be sharing valuable insights during his lecture on A Psychological Perspective on Eating scheduled for the 2nd of February, which is described as: "To eat or not to eat: How do we make choices when it comes to eating? Why do we eat more when a variety of food, especially junk food is available, and why do we eat more when we eat together with many other people? What mechanisms regulate our eating? How much is innate and what role does the environment play"?

 PNowicka smaller pic.jpg

Professor Paulina Nowicka's internationally recognized research career has been devoted to improving the lives of children and adolescents with obesity and their families. Trained as a clinical dietician with a Master's in Psychology and, a degree in Family Therapy, a Ph.D. in Pediatrics from Lund University in Sweden, she worked for almost a decade as a clinician in a childhood obesity treatment center in Malmö, Sweden. Her postdoctoral education included research at Yale University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Oxford. Since 2018, Dr. Nowicka has been a Chair Professor in Food Studies, Nutrition, and Dietetics, especially Communication of Dietetics at Uppsala University. We warmly welcome Professor Nowicka on the 23rd of February for her lecture entitled Family Dynamics and Obesity in Children with the description, "The family can be the biggest source of support for children with obesity, but also a major barrier to healthy weight development. While family-based treatments are the cornerstone for weight management, especially for the youngest children, involving family and enabling positive family dynamics and communication might be challenging. Many parents feel blamed; others do not recognize their important role in the treatment".


Field Studies

Field Study 1: Visiting the Museum of New Experiences is an immersive journey transcending traditional museum settings, offering students a dynamic encounter with interactive exhibits and thought-provoking installations. The museum's commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering creativity aligns with our educational goals, promising a memorable and transformative experience that resonates long after the visit. We will visit this museum together on the 31st of January in the afternoon between 13:00 and 17:00. Note: There might be a time conflict between this field study and other classes' field studies. The student(s) must inform both responsible faculties about which field study they intend to attend no later than one week before the scheduled date.

Field Study 2: Chocolate tasting at Chaklad Fabriken.  Date: April 10th, 9:15, Location: Chokladfabriken, Renstiernas gata 12, 116 28 Stockholm.




The course consists of lectures, discussions, assignments at home and in class for individuals and teams, as well as field studies. Students’ attendance at the classes, visits, and their active participation in the discussions are mandatory and taken into account in the evaluation. In discussions and assignments, students are required to demonstrate that they read and understood the required literature. They should be able to integrate their knowledge to discuss in-depth research questions and topics. Showing independent and critical thinking is expected.

Here is the outline of the course assessment. It is holistic, incorporating both individual and team-based components. Each assignment description and its requirements are presented in the assignment sections, followed by their respective grading matrix files available under the Files section on Rubric.

  1. Class Participation (Individual) - constituted 15% of the total grade: Actively engage in discussion activities and present a concise elevator pitch to showcase your communication skills.
  2. Participation in Discussion (Individual) - constituted 30% of the total grade: Contribute meaningfully to online discussions on the Canvas platform.
  3. Observational Studies (Individual) constituted 10% of the total grade: Conducted research or observations related to the psychology of food outside the classroom setting, reflecting on real-world experiences.
  4. Research Project (Team*) - constituted 45% of the total grade:
    • Journal Club (10%): Teams will select three articles related to their desired research project field of study. The instructor will choose one of the three options. The selected team will present the final article to the class and facilitate a dynamic discussion.
    • Research Presentation (15%): Clearly communicate your team's research purpose, method, and findings.
    • Research Report (15%): Submit a detailed report outlining your research process, methodology, findings, and conclusions. 
    • Research Checkpoint (5%): Ensure continuous progress through small submissions at each stage.


  • In the case of team projects, the deadline for submitting only one member is required to submit the materials, and all group members will assess their own and others’ contributions afterward, thereby influencing the overall grade calculation.
  • The deadlines for Research Project Report submissions and individual reflections on project research teamwork vary based on the assigned time slot for each team and individual (if individual submission is required). The deadlines are communicated within the assignments section, and only the final deadline is visible on the schedule. This deviation is implemented to ensure equal timing for each team and individual to finalize their assignments, considering the team presentation timelines outlined in the course schedule. The decision not to create different deadlines on the calendar was made to avoid confusion and maintain a cleaner and more prioritized schedule for most activities.
  • The Research Project reports will be reviewed by other teams to provide an opportunity for other team members to learn from the report and demonstrate critical thinking in written format. The final grade is according to peer review and the teacher evaluation. 
  • Both Journal Club and Research Project Presentation will be evaluated by other students in the class anonymously, and the final grade will be according to the teacher's evaluation. 


DIS Class Policies

Late papers/assignments:

  • Late papers/assignments will be accepted for up to 3 days after the deadline, but the grade for the paper will be reduced by 10% for each day that it is late. Please note that some assignments cannot be submitted late because they require presentation during class time (i.e., co-facilitation and expert presentation).

Late to class:

  • Students who are repeatedly late for class will receive a lower participation grade.
  • Use of cell phones is not allowed during class (including field trips).
  • NB: If your use of technology is due to a learning accommodation required for you to succeed in class, please discuss it with Academic Support or the instructor directly.





Active Class and Field Studies Participation (Individual)


Participation in Discussion Forum (Individual)


Observational Field Studies (Individual)


Research Project (Team)




 Note: Detailed assignment descriptions and rubrics are available via Canvas and in class. 




Required readings will be listed for each individual class, so please check the calendar to identify what you should read before class. 

Abbaszadeh, A., Saharkhiz, M., Khorasanchi, Z., Karbasi, S., Askari, M., Hoseini, Z. S., ... & Bahrami, A. (2021). Impact of a Nordic diet on psychological function in young students. Nutrition and Health, 27(1), 97-104.

Andersson, H. (2020). Nature, nationalism and neoliberalism on food packaging: The case of Sweden. Discourse, Context & Media, 34, 100329.

Block, J., Scribner, R., & DeSalvo, K. (2004). Fast food, race/ethnicity, and income: a geographic analysis. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 27(3), 211-17.

Brillat-Savarin, J. A. (1825) The physiology of taste; or, transcendental gastronomy. Online edition.

Chamberlain, K. (2004). Food and health: Expanding the agenda for health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 9, 467-481.

Duram, L. (2005). Good growing: Why organic farming works. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Forster, E., & Forster, R. (Eds.) (1975). The European diet from pre-industrial to modern times. New York: Harper & Row.

Fleming-Milici, F., & Harris, J. L. (2020). Adolescents’ engagement with unhealthy food and beverage brands on social media. Appetite146, 104501.

Jacobson, H. (2013). Whole: Rethinking the science of nutritionism. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books.

Karrebæk, M. S., Riley, K. C., & Cavanaugh, J. R. (2018). Food and language: Production, consumption, and circulation of meaning and value. Annual Review of Anthropology, 47, 17-32.

Rappaport, L. (2003). How we eat: Appetite, culture, and the psychology of food. Ontario, Canada: ECW Press.

Reddy, G., & van Dam, R. M. (2020). Food, culture, and identity in multicultural societies: Insights from Singapore. Appetite, 149, 104633.

Richter, N., & Hunecke, M. (2020). Facets of mindfulness in stages of behavior change toward organic food consumption. Mindfulness, 11(6), 1354-1369.

Rosenfeld, D. L. (2018). The psychology of vegetarianism: Recent advances and future directions. Appetite, 131, 125-138.

Rost, S., & Lundälv, J. (2021). A systematic review of literature regarding food insecurity in Sweden. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 21(1), 1020-1032.

Säll, S. (2018). Environmental food taxes and inequalities: Simulation of a meat tax in Sweden. Food Policy74, 147-153.

Touré‐Tillery, M., Steinmetz, J., & DiCosola, B. (2022). Feeling judged? How the presence of outgroup members promotes healthier food choices. Psychology & Marketing.



Disability and Resource Statement

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Academic Support (email) to coordinate this.  In order to receive accommodations, students should inform the instructor of approved DIS accommodations within the first two weeks of classes.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We believe that embracing diversity in all aspects of the learning and working environment is necessary for students and organizations to reach their full potential.

We strive to create a community in which each member feels welcome and supported, irrespective of their identities and life experiences. This includes, but is not limited to, diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, and socio-economic background.

Students’ interactions with the new and unfamiliar is an integral part of a formative study abroad experience. The learning environment we create pulls from both the U.S. higher education context and the Scandinavian experience of diversity to empower students to learn from their surroundings and from one another. Our goal is to foster a space for discussion and debate of different views while upholding our unwavering commitment to diversity and respect for others.

We work towards putting diversity, equity, and inclusion at the center of how we define an impactful learning environment – and do this by improving financial support, building inclusive learning and social spaces, providing staff and faculty DEI training, and rethinking access to DIS.

Academic Regulations

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on the following:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due