All posts tagged: guilt

Food Journals in Popular Culture: Confessing Diet Sins or Legit Rehabilitation?

At times, diet literature offers the same recommendations that dietitians and eating disorder specialists proffer, but accompanied by an underlying message of guilt—in this case of biblical proportion. In the article, “Diet Confessions” from the June 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Jim Karas (Chicago-based trainer to the stars and the common man alike) discusses keeping a food journal as a weight loss strategy. The article is accompanied by a disturbing image of a thin young woman kneeling as if at worship itself with her hands pressed together in fervent prayer. A scale lurks forebodingly in the background, a menacing crucifix. Upon her face shines the light of whichever god one confesses dieting sins. Karas discusses food journals utilizing religious descriptive language, including:  coming clean  every bite you take, every vow you break  confessing what you’ve eaten The article portrays an extra cookie as a sin that must be confessed to the food journal. Susan Estrich also refers to food journals in her diet book, Making the Case for Yourself: A DIET Book for SMART Women (1997), saying, …

Chain Restaurant “Diet” Menus: Serving Up Guilt with a Side of Sin

Guilt is frequently linked to food in a dysfunctional way and is founded in a belief system that gives food and eating a moral value. Notably, Paul Rozin et al.’s (1999) landmark food psychology study found that compared to Japanese and European subjects, Americans restricted their diets the most, feeling the most guilt and dissatisfaction. The moral construct of food consumption is an important part of American food culture and is what Paul Campos refers to as “orthodox diet theology” (2004: 75). Using this theology, some foods are deemed good, while others are bad, and thus guilt-inducing. The themes of guilt and morality are often used to sell entrees at chain restaurants, usually dishes that are considered “healthy” or low-calorie options. Patrons are encouraged to order from “diet” menus, which claim to offer dishes that make eating out a guilt-free experience. Among 200 menu options (some of which contain more than 1,000 calories), The Cheesecake Factory launched the “SkinnyLicious® Menu” in 2011, which Bruce Horowitz in USA Today argues was a result of “pressure from calorie counters, advocacy groups and party poopers” (Horovitz). At Applebee’s (a …