Anxious Eaters

Why We Fall for Fad Diets

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Pub Date 30 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 07 Dec 2022

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Description

What makes fad diets so appealing to so many people? How did there get to be so many different ones, often with eerily similar prescriptions? Why do people cycle on and off diets, perpetually searching for that one simple trick that will solve everything? And how did these fads become so central to conversations about food and nutrition?

Anxious Eaters shows that fad diets are popular because they fulfill crucial social and psychological needs—which is also why they tend to fail. Janet Chrzan and Kima Cargill bring together anthropology, psychology, and nutrition to explore what these programs promise yet rarely fulfill for dieters. They demonstrate how fad diets help people cope with widespread anxieties and offer tantalizing glimpses of attainable self-transformation. Chrzan and Cargill emphasize the social contexts of diets, arguing that beliefs about nutrition are deeply rooted in pervasive cultural narratives. Although people choose to adopt new eating habits for individual reasons, broader forces shape why fad diets seem to make sense.

Considering dietary beliefs and practices in terms of culture, nutrition, and individual psychological needs, Anxious Eaters refrains from moralizing or promoting a “right” way to eat. Instead, it offers new ways of understanding the popularity of a wide range of eating trends, including the Atkins Diet and other low- or no-carb diets; beliefs that ingredients like wheat products and sugars are toxic, allergenic, or addictive; food avoidance and “Clean Eating” practices; and paleo or primal diets. Anxious Eaters sheds new light on why people adopt such diets and why these diets remain so attractive even though they often fail.


Janet Chrzan teaches nutritional anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Alcohol: Social Drinking in Cultural Context (2013) as well as coeditor of Research Methods for the Anthropological Study of Food and Nutrition (2017) and Organic Food, Farming, and Culture (2019).

Kima Cargill is professor of psychology at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Her books include The Psychology of Overeating: Food, Culture, and Consumerism (2015) and Food Cults: How Fads, Dogma, and Doctrine Influence Diet (2016).

What makes fad diets so appealing to so many people? How did there get to be so many different ones, often with eerily similar prescriptions? Why do people cycle on and off diets, perpetually...


Advance Praise

"This enlightening and informative book explores not only how fad diets work but also why they are so wildly successful, as they provide templates for the expression of individual and social anxieties in contemporary American food culture and beyond."

--Fabio Parasecoli, New York University

"This enlightening and informative book explores not only how fad diets work but also why they are so wildly successful, as they provide templates for the expression of individual and social...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780231192446
PRICE $35.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Publication date: August 30, 2022

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own and may be affected by the fact that it is windy and freezing rain outside and I have nothing better to do than read multiple books a day!

SYNOPSIS
*****************
What makes fad diets so appealing to so many people? How did there get to be so many different ones, often with eerily similar prescriptions? Why do people cycle on and off diets, perpetually searching for that one simple trick that will solve everything? And how did these fads become so central to conversations about food and nutrition?

Anxious Eaters shows that fad diets are popular because they fulfill crucial social and psychological needs—which is also why they tend to fail. Janet Chrzan and Kima Cargill bring together anthropology, psychology, and nutrition to explore what these programs promise yet rarely fulfill for dieters. They demonstrate how fad diets help people cope with widespread anxieties and offer tantalizing glimpses of attainable self-transformation. Chrzan and Cargill emphasize the social contexts of diets, arguing that beliefs about nutrition are deeply rooted in pervasive cultural narratives. Although people choose to adopt new eating habits for individual reasons, broader forces shape why fad diets seem to make sense.

Considering dietary beliefs and practices in terms of culture, nutrition, and individual psychological needs, Anxious Eaters refrains from moralizing or promoting a “right” way to eat. Instead, it offers new ways of understanding the popularity of a wide range of eating trends, including the Atkins Diet and other low- or no-carb diets; beliefs that ingredients like wheat products and sugars are toxic, allergenic, or addictive; food avoidance and “Clean Eating” practices; and paleo or primal diets. Anxious Eaters sheds new light on why people adopt such diets and why these diets remain so attractive even though they often fail.

I have been DYING to review this book as it was on a colleague's desk for review and conversation ... this has led to some of the best lunchtime conversations in years as a result of us all reading this. My extended family is a nightmare to cook for as we have:
* 1 Paleo eater who thinks grains are evil who will argue the non-qualitative and non-quantitative concept of CLEAN food until armageddon
* 1 alkaline CrossFit-rat who drinks to stupidity most weekends, alkalinity be damned!
* 1 coeliac who has convinced her husband that gluten is poison
* 1 orthorexic until the cookies come out
and....
Anaphylaxis-level reactions to:
- ham
- fish
- shellfish
- dairy
- every nut on the planet
- dill, parsley and cilantro

...so I would serve water as a meal if I could but they would probably make it be ALKALINE WATER.

People, especially women, are suckers when it comes to what they think will make them lose weight or be healthier ... this book proves that anxiety over your food is prevalent and ridiculous. Just check out women's magazines and the diet of the month (or the week in Women's Weekly) and you can make yourself insane trying to decide what to eat.

I have found that I can only lose weight with Keto (or any low carbohydrate diet) but I feel like crap and the weight comes right back on me afterwards...I have been on a diet for 40+ years despite the social context of them seeming ridiculous ... every diet is ridiculous. So, I try to eat "healthy" ... but what does that mean anymore.

THIS IS NOT A DIET BOOK ... but will appeal to readers in search of the perfect diet ... which is good for sales and circulation statistics but not your soul! Take this book with a grain of salt and finish it prepared to argue with people who are brainwashed into non-healthy diets by influencers and other celebrities. (Think of the book "I'll Have What She's Having" which delves into the diet fads of celebrities and see what suckers we are!!!)

Try to eat food that you prepare yourself vs. boxed or delivered and your body (AND PSYCHE) will thank you ... this wonderful book will make you think twice before you put another morsel in your mouth.!

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to anyone who has ridiculous eating habits or knows someone who does. Their bodies and yours will thank you even if others think you are eating alkaline, carb-laden, gluten-filled poisons while hoping they are in your will.

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