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Table 1 Illustrative quotes of themes and sub-themes from young adults

From: “Doing a good thing for myself”: a qualitative study of young adults’ strategies for reducing takeaway food consumption

Theme Sub-theme Illustrative quote
1. Recasting consumption and/or reduction of TAF 1.1 Self-care action … but I hit a tipping point with going, I am not being managed properly; and then I just started to do that. So I was pushed to an extreme, I guess, before I was like, right, now it’s time to prioritise. K, Group 2, 32yo female, full-time employed, lives with peers
…having that I don’t have to be around my friends all the time, for every moment. I don’t mind missing things now and taking more care of myself becomes more important, basically, because you get older and you see how your body changes and things. J, Group 2, 22yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner & peers
Maybe if every time you make that decision, you should say you’re doing it not because you hate your fat body; it’s because you love your body and you love your health. You’re not making a decision out of resenting the way you are or the way that you might perceive yourself, but that decision you make at that point in time is like, I’m doing myself a favour here…I’m doing a good thing for myself. SS, Group 8, 33yo female, full-time employed, lives alone
1.2 Reaching a goal I guess, if I’ve got a goal and - it’s a bad way of thinking but it’s just my frame of mind, would be if there’s something that I need to achieve or need to lose weight for, I’ll possibly do it, but then other times, I don’t really think about it. OO, Group 7, 30yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner & children
Well, I got married in December, so it was like before that, both me and my wife kind of were not eating it [TAF] every week, but we were eating it fairly regularly, and trying to just be healthier and be a bit slimmer, and also save a bit more money to the wedding. LL, Group 6, 32yo male, full-time employed, lives with partner
1.3 Saving money I guess it can be kind of cost-effective as well. Like my loaf of bread can last a week, and I try and eat the mandarin if I get hungry and stuff, so I guess that makes me feel good to not eat other things. HH, Group 6, 23yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner & children
…last year, I was eating [takeaway foods] several times a week, and consistently every Friday night with all my family, we’d have takeaway. But now I’m working Friday nights and I’m working more and trying to save up money and everything, so I’ve been reducing the amount I eat out… U, Group 3, 19yo male, part-time employed, lives with parents
1.4 Small changes … I don’t want to think about food, I don’t want to have discussions about food, I don’t want to discuss with anyone eating, I just made sure I exercised and let myself eat bad things once in a while. But not, perhaps, as much as otherwise. So going the extreme is too much, it’s not realistic and that’s what’s slowly helped me just doing it bit by bit. K, Group 2, 32yo female, full-time employed, lives with peers
Inversely, if you think about the long term as a series of decisions, you can say, okay, if I make the right decision every single time, or say eight out of 10 times, that’s a better way to think about it than, okay, I’m going to change my eating habits long-term. VV, Group 8, 24yo male, part-time employed, lives with parents
2. Practical changes to behavioural practices shaping food choices 2.1 Planning …when I cook for myself and if it’s over a long period of time, what I do is I make a lot of one thing in one go and then I just stick it in the fridge so I can come back to the same thing. …it just means that I’m not eating out like takeaway foods, but it’s still just in the fridge. P, Group 3, 20yo female, part-time employed, lives with parents
It just suits my lifestyle. It’s like I’m used to doing it, so I pack food every day. Q, Group 3, 18yo male, part-time employed, lives with parents
2.2 Rule-making You’re like, oh well, there’s nothing really in the fridge that I want to take for lunch or - I don’t really have time to go home for dinner so maybe I should just - so then I really try to identify, okay, how often have I done that this week or this month. And say no, that has to be - I have to go home even if there’s nothing in the fridge. AA, Group 4, 23yo female, part-time employed, lives with parents
So what I have implemented is do all my shopping on Saturdays and stay back at home on Sundays, all social things on Saturdays and just stay back home on Sundays. So Sundays, I’ll cook at home, and no food from outside that day. RR, Group 8, 29yo female, employment status unknown, lives with partner
2.3 Portion adjustment …but now we try to have one dish for two. Now we try to adapt and say, okay, we know that last time it was too much, so we try to think before. FF, Group 6, 32yo female, part-time employed, lives with partner & children
I don’t think that’s fair… I don’t like not being able to reduce the size of the portion I’d like to have quite easily. That would make me feel not as guilty if I ate a smaller amount of it, without having to choose not to eat as much that’s on my plate. UU, Group 8, 34yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner
3. External instrumental support 3.1 Food environment I also think considering we’re not taking into account all the sushi and salads and whatever, I think that helps as well because you can be in a food court and someone can choose Hungry Jack’s and you can choose a healthy option. MM, Group 7, 23yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner
Living at the parental home gives you a base of healthy food to draw on, especially if your parents are healthy people, but then that’s decisive. If you’d moved out of home and you don’t have that, you’ve just got a shelf with a few scattered items on it, then it forces your hand to eat takeaway food. S, Group 3, 23yo male, part-time employed, lives with peers
… when I was in Canada and America when you go to Macdonald’s they have the kilojoule content of each item on the menu next to it, and I found that it did affect my choices. I, Group 2, 32yo female, full-time employed, lives with peers
3.2 Social support And so that really helped, because it was both of us deciding together as well. LL, Group 6, 32yo male, full-time employed, lives with partner
I guess, just the overall goal, and my husband is being very encouraging at the moment, so he’s giving me time to go exercise and he’s chipping in with helping cook. So yeah, it’s just changes together. OO, Group 7, 30yo female, full-time employed, lives with partner & children
Living at the parental home gives you a base of healthy food to draw on, especially if your parents are healthy people, but then that’s decisive. If you’d moved out of home and you don’t have that, you’ve just got a shelf with a few scattered items on it, then it forces your hand to eat takeaway food. S, Group 3, 23yo male, part-time employed, lives with peers
4. Reconfiguring social events and takeaway foods   It’s a bonding thing. Like we’ll get a movie and we’ll watch - like you’re in the living room in front of the TV instead of in the kitchen. It’s - you can do that with pizza. AB, Group 4, 27yo female, part-time employed, lives with peers & partner
Or if I met up with friends in a takeaway food setting I would be discreet about it because I wouldn’t want to ruin the atmosphere of celebrating with takeaway food, but I’d be discreetly just participating in the atmosphere, not the food part of it. I, Group 2, 32yo female, full-time employed, lives with peers
I do enjoy cooking, so when I do put the time to it, and because you’re linking it with a social thing, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time, because then we sit and eat it and have wine, but you know, it’s still healthy. M, Group 3, 19yo female, part-time employed, lives with parents.