While there’s a general consensus that to lose weight the calories you burn must exceed the calories you consume, how you decide to achieve that goal is certainly up for debate.
I am constantly amazed, horrified and completely baffled by the bizarre weight loss plans people follow these days in an attempt to slim down.A little research into this area reveals that many of the “new” diet trends are merely warmed-over fads from yesteryear. It appears that down through history people have craved weight loss gimmicks – so there’s really nothing new about fad dieting.
7 Fascinating Diet Crazes Dating Back to 1820:
1. Vinegar Diet (1820)
The British poet Lord Byron is credited with popularizing the vinegar diet, and was said to use three tablespoons of vinegar with water before every meal to aid weight loss.
A spin off from this diet, in the form of apple cider vinegar, is still around today, and although simply downing a few tablespoons of vinegar would be relatively easy if it worked, it’s not clear whether there are any properties in the vinegar which aid weight loss.
But, a recent study in mice, due to be published in July 2009, may prove otherwise. I’d like to see the results in humans before I start glugging vinegar morning, noon and night though!
2. Low Carb Diet (1825)
In the book “The Physiology of Taste” Jean Brillat-Savarin stated:
I know what causes obesity. Just talk to fat people. They eat too much starches and sugars.” He says this, “I have 500 conversations over the year with stout people, and each one, they’re telling me, ‘I love the potatoes. I love the rice. I love the bread.'”
The idea that starches make people fat is still around today, and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere either.
3. “Fletcherizing” (1903)
Horace Fletcher was an American health food faddist who eventually earned the nickname “The Great Masticator.” He argued that food should be chewed 32 times before being swallowed. His dogma taught that:
“All food must be deliberately masticated and not swallowed until it turned to liquid. Fletcher believed that prolonged chewing precluded overeating, led to better systemic and dental health, helped to reduce food intake, and consequently, conserved money. People were cautioned not to eat except when they were “good and hungry,” and to avoid dining when they were angry or worried. They were also told that they could eat any food that they wanted, as long as they chewed it until the “food swallowed itself.”
Fletcher certainly had an interesting view on things, to say the least!
4. Calorie Counting Diet (1917)
Calorie counting was first introduced by Lulu Hunt Peters in her book, “Diet and Health, With Key to the Calories,” which promoted a 1,200-calorie per day diet. Up until this point people referred to food by simple terms, such as “one slice of bread.” However, it then become commonplace for food to be referred to in terms of calorie content.
5. Cigarette Diet (1925)
In the days before tobacco advertising restrictions, several cigarette companies promoted the appetite-suppressing qualities of their products. In fact, one ad for Lucky Strikes urged smokers to “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” For a few years they pushed the health spin even further by getting doctors to prescribe them!
6. The Tapeworm Diet (1954)
For me this diet is the ultimate in craziness. The idea is that after swallowing a pill, the parasite will begin feeding off your food, and therefore you don’t gain weight.
I would have thought that having a meter-long parasite embedded in your intestines is clearly wrong, and after decades of ill-health effects and complications, people now realize the foolishness of this method.
But wait…a quick Google search reveals they’re still doing it. Yuk!
7. Sleeping Beauty Diet (1970)
Not many people enjoy the toils of dieting, and so the idea of being heavily sedated for several days to encourage weight loss may appeal to some. Elvis Presley is said to have tried this diet. However, it’s reported that he left the treatment 10 pounds heavier than when he’d started. Not the effect he was going for I’m sure!
In recent days we’ve had any number of interesting diets, including the Eat Right For Your Type Diet, the Coconut Diet, and not forgetting the Maple Syrup Diet. But, have there been any decent trends worth our attention?
Personally, I think one of the most useful trends we’ve seen lately is simply getting back to basics – moving away from highly processed junk and so-called “diet” foods, and instead focusing on food close to its natural form, such as whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.
What’s the worst fad diet you’ve ever come across?
For a closer look at diet history throughout the years check out the ADA’s Timeline.