The appeal of alternative diets: stories of carbohydrate-conscious eaters regarding motives, credibility of dietary advice and the authority of experiences

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Abstract

Low-carbohydrate diets promote the idea that reducing carbohydrate intake is a key to a healthier life and more natural way to eat. The proponents of these diets form food communities, which share common ideas about food, put forward their own ‘alternative’ expertise and challenge mainstream dietary advice. This study focuses on the perspectives of self-identified followers of low-carbohydrate diets. We explore their rationales for choosing the diet and how they navigate between different sources of dietary information. The data consists of open-ended responses (n=996) to a food survey published in a leading national Finnish newspaper. The responses have been analyzed using thematic narrative analysis. Our results highlight how uncertainties and disappointments can increase the appeal of ‘alternative’ diets and expertise. Low-carbohydrate diets are used as a form of self-care, illness prevention, risk management and weight loss by people with chronic conditions and lingering symptoms. They offer a sense of control, an alternative to medications and bring together communities of like minded people. The stories intertwine with health populist discourses, casting doubt on traditional experts. In a world of complex food systems and conflicting information the diets offer clear explanations. Additionally, the results emphasise the credibility and authority of lived experiences.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFOOD, CULTURE AND SOCIETY
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

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