Objective: The present study aimed to examine the role of health in consumers' food purchasing decisions through investigating the nature of people's discourse regarding health while conducting their food shopping. Design: The study employed the think-aloud technique as part of an accompanied shop. All mentions of health and terms relating to health were identified from the data set. Inductive thematic analysis was conducted to examine how health was talked about in relation to people's food choice decisions. Setting: Supermarkets in Dublin, Republic of Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Subjects: Participants (n 50) were aged over 18 years and represented the main household shopper. Results: Responsibility for others and the perceived need to illicit strict control to avoid 'unhealthy' food selections played a dominant role in how health was talked about during the accompanied shop. Consequently healthy shopping was viewed as difficult and effort was required to make the healthy choice, with shoppers relating to product-based inferences to support their decisions. Conclusions: This qualitative exploration has provided evidence of a number of factors influencing the consideration of health during consumers' food shopping. These results highlight opportunities for stakeholders such as public health bodies and the food industry to explore further ways to help enable consumers make healthy food choices.