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Placebo TalksModern perspectives on placebos in society$
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Amir Raz and Cory Harris

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680702.001.0001

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Placebolicious: the many flavors of placebos in Western diets and food cultures

Placebolicious: the many flavors of placebos in Western diets and food cultures

(p.173) Chapter 11 Placebolicious: the many flavors of placebos in Western diets and food cultures
Placebo Talks

Cory S. Harris

Timothy Johns

Oxford University Press

Food and medicine share an inseparable history with essential evolutionary underpinnings. In addition to nutritional, medicinal, or toxic components, the tastes, colors, shapes, names, and labels of foods elicit emotions, expectations, associations, and conditioned responses rooted within both public consciousness and individual experience. This combination of chemical-driven bottom–up and meaning-driven top–down influences provides a fertile framework through which to explore metaphors of placebos and placebo-like effects. This chapter reviews widespread placebo-like phenomena in food culture, appearing in numerous forms and with varying degrees of resemblance to those observed in medicine. Adapting a model of placebo to the context of food, diet, and nutrition, the chapter explores the complex interactions between drug or food, patient or consumer, and doctor or food source within different settings and contexts—the total food effect—to reveal that an individual’s response to eating is seldom, if ever, strictly a function of nutrient content.

Keywords:   placebos, placebo-like effects, diet, food, food culture, nutrition, total food effect

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