Over the past century, women have tried and professionals have endorsed plenty of weight loss trends, some being dangerous diet trends. Looking back, we can learn a lot from the things women have done to try to shed a few pounds as quickly as possible.
Since the 1920s, we have come to a general understanding of essential food groups and how each of them keeps us healthy. We have also come to focus more on both the benefits and potential harms of various diet trends by performing scientific research to back up many, yet still not all, health claims.
1920s: The Cigarette Diet
While we know now that smoking cigarettes causes far more health problems than it’s worth, nearly 100 years ago, women used smoking to eat less and lose weight. The idea behind it? The more time you spend smoking, the less time you spend eating! Essentially, they used cigarettes the way we might use water today: instead of grabbing a snack, just smoke a cigarette. We think this totally qualifies as one of the most dangerous diet trends!
1950s: The Prayer Diet
Can you pray your weight away? The Christian dieting industry claimed you could with the Prayer Diet, back in the late 1950s. Fasting is a cultural practice in some denominations of Christianity, which is where the trend started. “Spiritual” hunger and physical hunger, it turns out, are not the same thing. We assume they finally realized praying over meals before eating is sort of the same thing.
1970s: Magic Weightloss Pills
You want to talk about dangerous diet trends? The diet pill industry exploded when a treatment for asthma turned into a treatment for weight loss. There’s still a widespread belief today that there’s a magic pill out there that will drop all your extra pounds. In reality, medication combined with diet and exercise has proven to be a much more effective method.
1980s: The Chicken Diet
Preliminary research showed that white meat appeared to be an effective way to reduce heart disease risk. Many households replaced beef with chicken as a protein source, which many still do today. We now know that eating a lot of red meat really can be harmful to our health if we don’t balance it out with healthier options.
1990s: The Atkins Diet
The more carbs you eat, the harder it is to lose weight. At least, that’s what promoters of the Atkins diet claim. On this diet, participants eat more fat and protein than carbs, which is said to encourage weight loss. That’s fine and everything if you want to give up pizza … but that’s your choice.
2000s: The All-Natural Diet
In theory, this diet trend should have made us pay more attention to the food we eat. Instead, people mostly just paid attention to the “all-natural” label, which doesn’t say much about what we’re actually putting into our bodies nutrient-wise. Natural food products, unlike organic, are still processed and often still include artificial ingredients. Just because it’s natural doesn’t make it healthy.
2010-present: The Paleo Diet
Some diet trends are fine to try as long as you’re doing them for the right reasons. The idea of eating a hunter-gatherer diet similar to our prehistoric ancestors first appeared in the scientific world in the 1980s. In the past 10 years it has slowly gained popularity due to its potential aid in weight management, blood pressure control and appetite.
Find out more about today’s diet trend with our Paleo Diet review.