People have been so desperate to maintain their weight that they’ve tried just about everything. Nothing’s too crazy anymore and you can expect that in 2016 there’ll be a new line up of diet fads that will capture the attention of millions around the world. Restaurants will of course try to join in the hope of cashing in on the latest trends. Many of these trendy restaurants will happily accommodate any dietary restriction or instruction you may have, especially when it involves very small portions!
And before you call these fads crazy, see if they can match the utter lunacy of some diets that have come before.
- Fletcherism. This diet became a thing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it was named after Horace Fletcher, an art dealer in San Francisco. He lost more than 40 pounds through the diet he devised. It was also called the Chewing Diet, and Fletcher himself was also called the Great Masticator.
According to the rules of the diet, you should only eat when you’re hungry, and never when you’re sad and angry. Then you must chew your food at least 32 times, at a rate of 100 times a minute. Even the liquids you drink must also be chewed as well. He promised that his diet would transform “a pitiable glutton into an intelligent epicurean.”
He was actually much respected, and noted personalities who tried his methods include John D. Rockefeller, Henry James, and Upton Sinclair. He went on countless lecture circuits and became a millionaire. However, by the time he died in 1919 his theories were supplanted in popularity by another approach which involved counting calories instead.
- The Sleeping Beauty Diet. This was a fad diet that Elvis Presley once followed. It was described in the seminal 1966 Jacqueline Susann novel Valley of the Dolls. The premise was simple. You just sleep for days at a time. If you can’t sleep naturally, use sedatives. It’s a version of fasting, except you’re asleep so you’re not tempted to break your fast. Then when you wake up, you’re thinner. But since Elvis wasn’t actually slim around the time he died, we’re pretty sure this one doesn’t work all that well.
- The Tapeworm Diet. A tapeworm inside your body can consume food meant for you, and that means you can eat while you don’t actually absorb the calories. This is the premise behind the tapeworm diet, which actually came into vogue in the 1920s. Lauren Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend, reported that jockeys in the 1930s and 1940s intentionally gave themselves tapeworm so that they can stay trim. In the 1950s, it was even rumored that opera singer Maria Callas lost more than 60 pounds because she took a pill that contained a tapeworm egg.
- The Grapefruit Diet. This also became popular in the 192os, and it was also called the 18-day diet and the Hollywood Diet. The idea is that your lunch and dinner should only consist of lean meat, vegetables, and a lot of grapefruit for a total of 800 calories. You’re allowed a cup of coffee for each meal, but you’re not allowed to smack in between meals. This diet regained some attention when a 2004 study confirmed that grapefruit did reduce insulin levels and it also encouraged weigh loss. But a daily diet based lots of grapefruit and a limit of 800 calories may be insufficient and unhealthy.
- The Cigarette Diet. In the 1920s, tobacco manufacturers advertised their cigarettes as effective weight loss tools, and thus the cigarette diet was born. It’s simple, really. If you’re feeling hungry, you don’t eat—you smoke a cigarette instead. After all, cigarettes don’t have any calories and the nicotine can also stimulate your brain as well as dessert. But now that we know just how harmful cigarettes are, smoking a cigarette in lieu of snacks may be more a more dangerous approach.
- The Baby Food Diet. Here, the idea is that you substitute one or two (and sometimes even 3!) regular meals a day for tiny portions of purées. Supposedly, the adherents to this diet include Jennifer Aniston, Lily Allen, and Reese Witherspoon. On the face of it, it does seem reasonable, as the diet restricts calories and you eat baby food that’s pure with lots of vitamins.
But the reality of it is that baby food doesn’t contain the nutrients adults need, and they aren’t tasty and filling. It’s unsustainable, and once you return to normal food the lost pounds will return as well.
- The Twinkie Diet. This one has very simple instructions—you only eat Twinkies. That’s it. Since a Twinkie only has 150 calories, even eating 10 a day gives you just 1,500 calories. But it doesn’t do much for your nutritional needs, does it?
Would you try any of these diet trends? Let us know what you think in the comments section.