A look back on bizarre weight loss trends from the last 60 years
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
I’ve always been surprised at the lengths some people will go to shed a few pounds. It seems like there’s some new weight loss fad every other week, with magazines constantly advertising “insider secrets” on how our favourite celebrities stay trim. In the ’80s, Jane Fonda encouraged fellow weight loss hopefuls with catchphrases like “feel the burn” and “no pain, no gain” in her infamous Jazzercise workout videos. However, as much as Fonda might have tried to encourage a conscious balance of healthy eating and exercise, North America has been much more inclined to find ways to shed those pounds while avoiding all that burn and all that pain—most often through strict and rather bizarre diet plans. While diets like Weight Watchers, SlimFast, and Atkins might have survived the years, here’s a look back on a few of the most questionable diets from the last 60.
The grapefruit diet
Still seen today, this diet originally earned followers in the ’30s, but became popular in the ’50s when it came to Hollywood. The fruit is supposed to contain enzymes that promote fat burning, so it is eaten with every meal for a 10 to 12-day cycle. Unfortunately, only consuming grapefruit does not burn fat, so individuals must also cut calories—often to below 1000 a day—making this a something of a starvation diet. These kinds of diets are heavily associated with the so-called “yoyo effect”: While you might lose weight following the strict regimen, once people move off the diet, they usually gain the weight back, and quickly. This then leads to more dieting, and the cycle continues.
The cabbage soup diet
Similar to the grapefruit diet and from the same era, this regime involves eating only cabbage soup for a 7-day period. The desired effect is obviously achieved—the soup is low calorie, low fat, and low protein—but the lack of food variety leaves out a lot of essential nutrients. Also, who wants to consume that much cabbage?
The Sleeping Beauty diet
This diet was made famous by the one and only king, Elvis Presley. Allegedly, he would take pharmaceuticals like xanax to sleep for long periods (over 10 hours) to avoid the temptation of eating, which has helped it earn the nickname “narcorexia.” I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the most harmful fad on the list, and that everyone should avoid abusing prescription drugs.
The blood type diet
In the ’90s, naturopath Dr. Peter D’Adamo developed a diet that claimed nutritional needs could be determined via someone’s blood type. He felt it explained why some people could easily lose weight while others struggled, despite following the same regiment. According to this diet, type Os need high-protein diets; type As require a meat-free, plant-based diet; type Bs need to avoid corn, wheat, and chicken; and type ABs should consume mostly tofu, dairy, seafood, and green vegetables. However, a 2013 review found there was no scientific evidence to support any of D’Adamo’s claims.
A quick fix can feel like a good idea, but it’s important to remember that diet fads are fads for a reason—they aren’t at all sustainable. The vast catalogue of “come-and-gone” diets is clear evidence of this. Strict restrictions like these are unhealthy and are hard on your body, so please be kind to yours by avoiding some of the equally peculiar diets we still see today.