The History of Fad Dieting

The history of fad dieting is long and complex. On today’s episode I detail some interesting diets from the 1800s and early 1900s. I also go through a timeline of different diets and diet products through the 20th century.

Fad Diets Have Been Around A Long Time

One of the earliest accounts of a fad diet was from the 1500s. Luigi Cornaro decided to change his eating and lifestyle to eliminate body pains and sickness. He went from feeling constantly sick all the time, to feeling healthy and strong. He wrote down his experiences in a book that became popular during the time. Luigi managed to go from his deathbed in his 30s to a long life that ended at 102.

Another person obsessed with body image was Lord Byron. In the early 1800s he was incredibly focused on his weight. He felt excessive weight would result in lethargy and stupidity. Byron embraced many strict diets in an effort to maintain his weight. He failed miserably at this endeavor despite strict diet regiments. He produced an apple cider vinegar and water concoction that became a popular way to try and lose weight. In the end, Lord Byron died in his 30s. Many historians believe his many waves of extreme dieting wore out his body prematurely.

Few “New” Ideas With Dieting

Throughout the history of fad dieting one thing became very clear, there aren’t many new ideas. There is a rebranding that happens every decade or two with different diet concepts. There were low carb diets that stretch back into the 1800s. For a more complete timeline of different diet plans, make sure you listen to the show.

Moderation is Key

Moderation is often neglected in the diet conversation. It doesn’t quite fit with what the weight loss industry tries to sell. This is an industry that is worth an estimated $66 billion. At a time when America has so many different diet plans and products available, we continue to struggle with obesity.

Fad diets are rarely something designed for people to stick to long term. The weight loss industry counts on this. The goal is to create a cycle of dieting that keeps us trying the next best diet plan. For me I love the words of Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That is moderation at its finest, and it is much less expensive than another fancy diet.

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The History of Fad Dieting Through the Centuries

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