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Behavioural Foodie Mariam on a mission to promote the food scene and discover the psychology behind people’s choices

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A Dundee woman is examining links between food and behavioural science in her Behavioural Foodie blog and social media channels.

By day Mariam Okhai works in marketing for her family’s business, but by night and at the weekends it’s food that is foremost in her mind.

And the 24-year-old is investigating the links between food and behavioural science, while also reviewing local food businesses and giving them her support.

Having studied behavioural science at university, Mariam is now putting that to good use as she discusses links between the subject and food.

University education

“It kind of goes back to me being at university. When I did my undergrad I studied psychology and economics and then I went on to study behavioural science and did my Masters in it at Stirling University,” she said.

“I finished that and then started working for my family’s business and didn’t really do much with the behavioural science. I already had my Instagram and a food blog where I posted pictures of food and places I was eating. It was a private account at first and people said you should make it public and start reviewing and going places. I thought why not?!

One of Mariam’s pictures from a visit to The West House.

“I was working away and I just thought there something else there because of the education that I had had and I could put together two areas of work that lots of people couldn’t or hadn’t thought of doing.”

Originally looking at the food scene on her doorstep and further afield in Scotland, Mariam reckoned there was an opportunity to use her behavioural science knowledge.

And this led to far more interaction as people sought her thoughts and opinions on food-related matters.

“I started off as the Scottish Foodie because I am from Dundee and I was reviewing Scottish places but I thought it wasn’t the only thing I could do with it. Then I thought I could be a behavioural foodie,” she said.

“When I switched over my accounts the interaction was different, people were much more interested and were asking me to talk about different things. The behavioural science side looks at how people’s behaviour interacts with food.

Blog readers love to find out where Mariam has been, and what she has been eating.

“I have extended it further to psychology and any type of behaviour because my background and education allows for that.

“I come up with topics of conversation or things that I think are interesting or other people have mentioned are interesting. I discuss it and I look at it from a behavioural perspective and how it relates to our food choices and food behaviour.

“The other side of it is the reviews, the recipes and the photography. For the reviews, individuals reach out to me, they give me a sample product and I review the sample and write up a blog post and an Instagram post and promote them across my social channels.

“I will try and support them as supporting local businesses is a big thing and something I’m all for.”

Mariam’s background means she is also cooking up different dishes in the kitchen, and readers of her blog love to find out what she has been creating.

A keen photographer, Mariam loves sharing her food exploits.

“The recipes are just me having a bit of fun in the kitchen and people like that sort of thing.

“I eat a lot of food at home that is different because my background is ethnically Indian and our family migrated to Malawi and then Scotland, although I was born in Scotland and I am Scottish by nationality.

“But people are always asking ‘What are you eating?’ I notice that not a lot of people eat biriyani, for instance, for dinner, while that is quite a normal thing for me. From that, I thought this is a big thing and I can use that and it almost makes you stand out a bit.

Chicken Shawarma from @shawarmastandrews Had this today for lunch and it was just as good as I hoped. Really glad to…

Posted by Behavioural Foodie on Saturday, 20 March 2021

Visuals are vital

A keen photographer, Mariam fills her social media channels with pictures of the food she has been cooking and eating, adding a vitally important visual element to her work.

“I love photography and I have been kind of building on that as well by trying to teach myself to become a better photographer, investing in better equipment,” added Mariam who is hoping to build her blog further around her food exploits.

A charcuterie box from Tempest Taste.

“Everything is still in its infancy and I didn’t really start doing it properly until the last few months, but the engagement and the reaction has been good.

“Long-term if it became something that people were genuinely interested in and if it could be my job that would be amazing because I love it, but at the moment I am working for the family business in marketing. It’s a hobby that I love doing but I spend more time thinking about that than maybe my work sometimes.

Mariam Okhai.

“My mum said to me I am using people’s biases against them which is true. When I post an article I post a picture of food so people are drawn to it. They may not be interested in the topic, but think ‘that’s a really good-looking steak’ and they click on it.

“Food is one of these things that everybody needs to eat and everyone is interested in food. They are always going to look at a picture and click on it and that was why my Instagram got so much interest in the first place because of the food I was eating.


“I love trying new things and now I have a Saturday food adventure where I go out in Dundee and I try and find different places to eat. Covid has made things difficult but people seem to enjoy it and I love doing it too.

“Food is such a massive topic. I know there is some information on behavioural science and food but behavioural science as a field is still quite young – it is only 20 or 30 years old – so when you are looking at it you think if I can be someone in that field discussing those topics then you can quickly become someone that people come to for that information.

“It’s a case of trying to find that niche and it’s hard in the world to find a niche, but I might have stumbled across a niche.”

More food and drink news…

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