Healthy Diet Analysis

This assignment encourages you to bring what we’ve learned in class in critiquing and analyzing how references to health and diet appear in contemporary literature—a webpage/website (of your choosing) that discusses what a “healthy diet” is. This assignment is a lot like the vitamin rhetoric analysis, but is made to help you reflect on the entire course and how the history of diet and health can help us understand contemporary advice and understandings of diet and health.

Your job is to analyze the RHETORIC of your particular website/page, not to just critique the diet itself. As with our critique of the carnivorism diet, whether the diet “works” or not or “seems” like a good idea is totally beside the point. We’re analyzing HOW THE AUTHOR IS MAKING AN ARGUMENT. Naturally, you might comment on a particular aspect of the dietary advice—maybe something about restricting the number of calories you eat. That’s an aspect of dietary advice that is worth comment on because we’ve done a lot of reading to understand how that kind of thinking became so pervasive.


  • ~800 words
  • Clear paragraphs that answer the questions below
  • Posted on the discussion board as usual

What to do

  • Google something like “what is a healthy diet?”
  • Pick one of the results
  • Get familiar with the whole thing so that you have a solid impression of how the blog/author describes the relationship between diet and health
  • IGNORE the actual diet advice in terms of whether you think it’s “right” or “good” or not. That is irrelevant for the assignment.

Questions to consider

These are all pretty general questions that we’ve addressed at different points and with different sources. Focus on the ones that are the most relevant for your particular article. Answers to some questions are going to be obvious; others require more reading between the lines.

  • How does the author establish their credibility or authority about diet and health?
  • What kinds of claims about diet and health does the author make? What kind of evidence is used to support these claims? Can you seem them for yourself? Is there room for misinterpretation?
  • Does the advice stem from primarily expertise or common sense?
  • What kind of assumptions does the author(s) make about the relationship between food, diet, health?
  • How is “science” used?
  • Is there any moral component to the advice?
  • Is it convincing or effective in getting people to eat healthier? How or why not?
  • How would a historical perspective have or have not been useful?

Think about all the topics and themes we’ve covered and how we’ve seen elements of your webpage in historical context before: balance, common sense, expertise, calories, fat, quantification, measurement, science, evidence, etc.


  • 14-15: Excellent. Wrote up an original, expressive, and sophisticated analysis of how the course (the history of diet and health) can help explain why a modern webpage gives the advice that it does.
  • 12-13: Very good. Provides partial, but informed answers to the above questions.
  • 8-11: Fine. Shows some evidence of thinking critically about the above questions, but does not demonstrate much knowledge of course content.
  • 4-7: Marginal. Provides simplistic descriptions and superficial answers to questions that are disconnected from course material.
  • 0-3: Not good. Doesn’t meet basic length requirements or doesn’t address any key questions posed above.


You are ALWAYS welcome to use email or better yet Slack for questions or clarifications. Writing is hard enough, and virtually impossible when you’re not sure what you’re trying to do. Please get in touch!