Postpartum Food Traditions of Bhutanese Refugee Women: a Qualitative Study

  • Christina DaveyEmail author
  • Helen Vallianatos


Bhutanese refugees represent one of Canada’s most recent immigrant populations, and little is known about their dietary traditions and habits. The purpose of this study was to improve the wellbeing and health of re-settled refugee Bhutanese women by understanding how culturally informed postpartum food choices are practiced post-migration. As part of a larger community-based participatory research project, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 Bhutanese refugee women. The traditional dietary choices that Bhutanese women revealed to be important in the postpartum period were organized into five themes: (1) “foods consumed as part of a regular healthy diet,” (2) “foods to regain strength and heal the body,” (3) “foods to ward off back and joint pain,” (4) “foods to promote lactation,” (5) “foods avoided due to negative effects.” Traditional foods and culturally situated beliefs in the postpartum period play a significant role in the lives of Bhutanese women. Healthcare workers in countries of re-settlement should work with the traditional health and nutritional beliefs of women in this community in order to provide optimal dietary and health recommendations.


Bhutan Canada Refugee Re-settlement Food Postpartum 



The authors wish to thank their Bhutanese community partners and Yvonne Chiu for their involvement in this project. The study was supported by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of AgriculturalFood and Nutritional ScienceEdmontonCanada

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