Fad Diets for Weight Loss Have Long History

Fad Diets for Weight Loss Have a Long History


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

As a registered dietitian I have spent as much time battling wacky weight loss diets as my clients have spent trying to lose weight. Sure, it would be great if you could “lose weight while you sleep” as one fad diet promised, but that’s just not possible. It’s just another empty promise that can do more harm than good in the end.

How can you tell if a fad diet is bad for you? Any diet that puts your health in jeopardy for the sake of losing weight is not good. And sometimes you can tell just by the name!

In honor of National Nutrition Month this March, I’d like to expose some of the fad diets from the past so you won’t be as likely to fall for them in the future. It’s a perfect fit with this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month, Get Your Plate in Shape. The theme combines the equally important messages to balance your food choices and be physically active to get your plate – and your body – into good shape.

Questions about how to get in shape have been around for as long as there have been scales and mirrors! Unfortunately, many of the answers have come in the form of fad diets and wacky weight loss gimmicks. See how many you recognize from this Fad Diet Timeline adapted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that spans over 200 years, and use it as a reminder that while fad diets may come and go, good nutrition is here to stay.

Fad Diet Timeline

1820 Vinegar & Water Diet, requires mixing apple cider vinegar and water to cleanse the body

1903 “Fletcherizing,” promoted by Horace Fletcher, requires chewing food 32 times

1925 Cigarette Diet, recommends that you “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”

1928 Inuit Meat-and-Fat Diet, includes caribou, raw fish and whale blubber

1930 Hay Diet, does not allow carbohydrates and proteins to be eaten in the same meal

1950 Grapefruit Diet, is based on the belief grapefruit juice can melt fat

1964 Drinking Man’s Diet, is made up of alcoholic drinks and meat

1976 Sleeping Beauty Diet, individuals are heavily sedated for several days, so can’t eat

1981 Beverly Hills Diet, allows only fruit, in unlimited amounts, for the first 10 days

1986 Rotation Diet, rotates the number of calories taken in from week to week

1987 Scarsdale Diet, is low in carbohydrates and calories

1994 First version of the Atkin’s Diet, a high protein, very low carbohydrate plan

1995 Sugar Busters, eliminates sugar and refined carbohydrates

1996 Eat Right for Your Type, is based on eating foods matched to your blood type

2000 Raw Foods Diet, focuses on eating just uncooked, unprocessed, organic foods

2004 Coconut Diet, replaces most animal fats and vegetable oil with coconut oil

2011 Baby Food Diet, starts with 14 jars of baby food a day and an optional adult dinner

How many did you recognize?

Posted in Calories, Diet and Disease, Dietitians, Fad Diets, HEALTH GOES STRONG, Health Risks, Nutrition News, Obesity, Weight Control and tagged , , .

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