Event Title

Clean Eating: How the Language of Diet Culture Assigns Moral Judgments to Food Choices

Session Title

Inclusion and Community

Faculty Mentor

Jo Koster, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of English

Location

WEST 217

Start Date

12-4-2019 1:15 PM

Description

In this paper, I take a linguistic approach to analyze the way in which we talk about food and how the language we use to categorize foods assigns moral judgments to them. To argue this, I examine the effects of terms such as “clean eating,” “superfoods,” and “junk food” on feelings of moral rightness or wrongness. Building from the research of Jennifer S. Coelho, My Bui, and Nick Cullather on the impact of language on guilt associated with food and calories, I discuss how the language of diet culture leads to an increased tendency in people exposed to it to feel food-related guilt when they consume things that are classified as “bad.” I also argue that people use the language of food description such as carbs, calories, and diet to impose limits that can sometimes become extremely restrictive on their own behaviors, and this shows that the language we use to talk about food has moral, even psychological, power over most people.

Previously Presented/Performed?

World of Food Interdisciplinary Conference, Winthrop University, February 2019

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Apr 12th, 1:15 PM

Clean Eating: How the Language of Diet Culture Assigns Moral Judgments to Food Choices

WEST 217

In this paper, I take a linguistic approach to analyze the way in which we talk about food and how the language we use to categorize foods assigns moral judgments to them. To argue this, I examine the effects of terms such as “clean eating,” “superfoods,” and “junk food” on feelings of moral rightness or wrongness. Building from the research of Jennifer S. Coelho, My Bui, and Nick Cullather on the impact of language on guilt associated with food and calories, I discuss how the language of diet culture leads to an increased tendency in people exposed to it to feel food-related guilt when they consume things that are classified as “bad.” I also argue that people use the language of food description such as carbs, calories, and diet to impose limits that can sometimes become extremely restrictive on their own behaviors, and this shows that the language we use to talk about food has moral, even psychological, power over most people.