Hot Topic: Diet Trends of the Decades

46 comments

faddiets thumb   Hot Topic: Diet Trends of the Decades [Image source]

In any field, there are always trends, fads, and followings at different periods of time. The health field has been no exception. Americans spend an estimated $50 billion dollars a year on weight-loss products. Today’s Hot Topic post will feature some of the top diet trends of the past millennium.

  • 1930’s to 1940’s: Smoking and The Master Cleanse

Can you believe that Lucky Strike Cigarette ad campaign actually ran an ad that said “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet.”? Horrifying, isn’t it?

  • 1950’s: Praying for weight loss

“Pray Your Weight Away,” which was published in 1957 was a best-selling book.

  • 1960’s: Cabbage Soup Diet and Support Groups

Overeaters Anonymous was formed in the early 60’s as well as Weight Watchers in 1963. The Cabbage Soup Diet was also the most popular diet fad at that time.

  • 1970’s: Atkins Diet Revolution and Diet Pills

Dexatrim was a hugely popular pill of the era. The appetite suppressant contained the drug PPA (phenylpropanolamine), and in 2000 it was pulled from shelves. Dr. Atkins published the Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution in the 70’s and the protein craze began the world’s misguided hatred for carbs. Carbs’ reputation has never quite recovered from this diet fad!

  • 1980’s: Scarsdale Diet

This two-week high-protein, low-carb and super-low-calorie diet (1,000 calories or fewer per day!) touted that you could lose up to 20 pounds per week without any long-term deprivation of any vitamins or minerals. The diet was restrictive though: no butter, no salad dressing (except lemon and vinegar) and no alcohol. Your snack choices were either raw carrots or celery! Umm, I think I’ll pass, thanks.

  • 1990’s: Low-carb diet

Damn that Dr Atkins! His diet resurfaced with a vengeance in the 1990’s. Suddenly, in every grocery store and in every magazine you saw food that was promoted as low-carb and high in protein. Many people followed this diet consuming massive quantities of protein and very few vegetables and fruits. Dr. Atkin failed to mention that consuming large amounts of protein is actually very harmful for your body.

[Source]

So what are the top diet trends of today? Well, according to Glamour magazine, here they are:

1. Celebrity-endorsed diets: Stars like Jessica Simpson and Eva Mendes swear by Harley Pasternak’s 5-Factor plan.

2. Portion control: 100-calorie pack, anyone?

3. Organic diets: Followers believe that organic foods, without the preservatives and additives of their nonorganic counterparts, may help the body’s digestive system run more smoothly.

4. Diet delivery: Services like Chefs Diet and NutriSystem deliver either fresh or frozen prepackaged meals right to your door.

5. Sweet and savory diets: Think Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet (which originally began in 1975) —Jennifer Hudson is reportedly a cookie-diet fan — or the eat-croissants-for-breakfast-and-veggies-for-lunch philosophy of “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”

[Source]

My take:

Diet fads and trends aren’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, the majority of society still believes that a quick fix solution to their weight loss problems is out there! It is much more difficult to ‘sell’ people on the concept of making a lifestyle change for the rest of their life. Many people don’t want to do that. Instead, they want a 30 day diet they can follow, lose the weight, and then resume their lives the way they were. I think that is why so many diets fail- many of them require that you cut out food groups all together and it just isn’t realistic for most people. Your body will not thank you for cutting out fruits and vegetables!

Today’s Hot Topic Questions:

  • Do you agree with the diet trends of today? Can you think of any more?
  • What do you think about some of the diet trends of past decades?
  • Do you think that society will look back at the early 2000’s diet trends and gasp in horror much like we do with the earlier decades?
  • What do you think the up and coming diet trends will be of the 2010’s?
  • Did you ever follow a diet that worked and you have maintained the weight loss? What was the diet?

angela signature thumb71   Hot Topic: Diet Trends of the Decades

Previous Posts

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian May 27, 2009

I followed the Atkins diet for almost a year when I was trying to gain weight. I had lost too much weight while away for a year, and when I came back my brother and my dad were on the diet. I figured a high protein diet and hitting the gym would be a good way to bulk up. It did the trick , but I don’t know how you would lose weight eating as I did. It was unbalanced, I cut out most fruit, and I would eat far too much red meat and butter. Being a control freak I liked having rules and a diet to follow, but I remember having dreams of people running after me trying to get me to eat bread. Talk about deprivation! Once I was healthy again I started to introduce carbs again, and found myself looking and feeling MUCH better! The Atkins diet stole a lot of my energy and wasn’t great for my skin.

In terms of looking and feeling good, I have always been my healthiest when I don’t diet. Anytime I go to France I say goodbye to any diet myths and health rules and eat exactly what I want. I always feel better, look better, and my clothes hang perfectly. I think the best diet is no diet at all!

Reply

caitlin May 27, 2009

i think some people really like “plans” to follow, but i agree its hard to get back to “real life” if you’ve just been blindly following a plan.

i did the south beach diet back in 2003 and i must admit IT WORKED. i lost 7 lbs! and i think i kept it off for like a year.

Reply

Melanie May 27, 2009

This is such an excellent post; I think it’s amazing how people are always looking for these complicated fad diets with all of their rules, when the simplest solution is always the right one; eat as unprocessed as possible, eat a good balance of foods, and get plenty of exercise. I made a promise to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t read any more “fad diet books” and would instead just focus on taking care of myself. I feel so much better:) Love your blog!

Reply

Alison May 27, 2009

As awful as the Lucky ad it, it’s probably somewhat effective. I just don’t think the other side effects are worth it.

The low carb phase was way overdone. But on the other hand, it pushed me to think about the negative effects of carbs. At one point I probably went too low carb as well as too low fat. But now the awareness of both fads has helped me get a more balanced diet – not overdoing any type of food.

I do think the “high protein” diet is a fad that is currently too much in vogue. Nothing wrong with protein, but it doesn’t need to be the main focus.

Reply

Rose May 27, 2009

Great topic! And I love the brief history you’ve listed. I agree with you – diet fads aren’t going anywhere. But I am at least hopeful due to all the healthy blogs out there (esp. yours!) about attitudes changing. Might not be everyone – but I think we’re all getting the word out there.

Reply

Michelle Hisae May 27, 2009

1980s: Oat Bran
1990s: Low Fat
2000s: Detox? Supplements? FOOD BLOGS.
2010s: Raw Food? Vegan/Vegetarian?

I totally agree that speedy/all-out diets are a no go for long-term health. It looks like that would just make people stuff their faces with all the things they couldn’t have during their “diet,” and it would be a vicious cirle/cycle.

We need to reivent the word “diet.” Or rather, bring it back to it’s former meaning: the foods that you consume in a single day. It’s become this taboo word meaning deprivation, starvation, control, out-of-control, etc.

We bloggers have the ability to change this! Honestly!

Reply

Christina May 27, 2009

Great post! I don’t think fad diets ever really work. The only way to lose weight for the long term is to think of eating healthier as a lifestyle change, not a diet :)

Another current fad diet I can think of is the Japanese banana diet.

Reply

Brittney May 27, 2009

I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now and have pretty much been a lurker. This is an interesting topic, though, and I wanted to share with you some information I was able to find about dieting for a research paper I did in college about the influences Hollywood had on women during the 1920s. There some pretty extreme diets back then, with one of them being to eat only pineapple and lamb chops until you lost the weight. This diet was also endorsed by a doctor.

Another popular diet then was only consuming 500 calories a day by only eating grapefruit, oranges, toast, vegetables, and eggs. Crazy!

I thought it was really interesting that these diets were so popular during the 1920s. It’s definitely something I would have never guessed!

Reply

Alison May 27, 2009

I was just thinking about this this morning, how timely!

The only “fad” diet I ever did was The Zone in the early 2000′s (how DO we refer to this decade??) and while it was not easy to follow to the T, it did teach me the importance macronutrients and being sure to get some carbs, fat and protein at every meal, to stabilize blood sugar and get the most from your meal.

And while I’ve never done Atkins, we do know that simple carbs are easy to go nuts with and don’t offer us any real nutritional value. No carbs? No way! The right carbs? For sure.

So what I take from this is that some of these diet crazes and fad diets have SOMETHING to offer. They sometimes get part of it right. I wrote this on today’s post but I like to treat any advice like a buffet: take what you like and leave the rest!

Reply

amy May 27, 2009

I fully believe we will see a huge move towards a vegan/vegetarian diet in the next 10 years. I believe in my heart that people will start to wake up to the horrendous treatment of animals in factory farms and that there will be legislation passed soon with regards to the environmetal side of factory farming, etc. It may start as a health “diet” trend, but then morph into an environmental and moral issue. That is my hope :) BTW….never tried any of the above diet trends except organic/vegan :) I heart carbs :)

Reply

SarahF May 27, 2009

I agree that vegetarianism and veganism will become hugely popular. My mom won this weight loss package (where you have meetings twice a week where they educate you about being healthy, etc.). They advocated veganism because of the fat that’s in meat products (however I was dissapointed to hear that they never went into detail about the different kinds of fats that are out there-and the difference in between good fats and bad fats).

My mom was raised as a farm girl and has eaten meat all of her life-and is now trying out vegan meals (though my step-dad is too much of a “meat and potatoes” guy for her to ever go completely vegan)

Reply

brandi May 27, 2009

I agree with everything, but I have no clue what the fads will be in 2010! coffee only?

I have been doing WW for the past 5 years and it works! I lost about 25 lbs of college weight and have kept it off. It is a great plan, but I am slowly trying to wean myself off – not because I don’t think it’s great – but because I want to know that I can do this myself.

Reply

Kristen May 27, 2009

I am currently taking Lipovox, its supposed to help you lose weight, clear acne, and prevent wrinkles by having high concentrations of the ten superfoods endorsed by Dr Perricone. I mostly bought it for the acne since I went online and read tons of positive reviews and if nothing else its a good supplement. Do you know anything about this product? Am I a crazy person for buying this pill?

Also I want to participate in Project Glow, what type of blender do you have?

Thanks!

Reply

Marissa May 27, 2009

I think diets are all fads. I wonder why the health lifestyle isn’t pushed more since it is the only thing that works long term.

Reply

Heather May 27, 2009

Awesome topic Angela! I totally agree with you. I don’t think fad diets are ever a good choice. Our bodies need every nutrient, and as long as we eat in moderation and watch our diets, we should be able to eat almost anything our body craves. What’s most important is learning to truly listen to your body and trust what it’s telling you that you need. These diets will never benefit someone in the long run, because who honestly wants to eat that way for the rest of their lives? We need to focus on a healthy lifestyle and choices that we can make the rest of our lives! :)

Reply

Lauren May 27, 2009

I think a new positive “diet trend” which we will see more of is people switching over to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. This will help to solve many of society’s health issues, not to mention environmental concerns. I’m hoping that this will be one trend which will stick!

Reply

Lauren May 27, 2009

Oh, haha, I just went up to read the comments at the top, and saw some people had already said this. Well…I agree! :)

Reply

Leah @ Simply Fabulous May 27, 2009

My friends parents decided to “get healthy” and they went on an organic food diet. They lost a TON of weight and look amazing. Their skin is the best it’s ever been and their energy levels are through the roof. Not only did they start eating all organic but they also quit smoking and started exercising. I think everything helped.

Reply

Katy May 27, 2009

Green Monster diet! drink 3 green monsters a day and lose up to twenty pounds a week! Haha, JOKING.

But seriously, I am very excited to say that I tried my first green monster today! I was positive that it would taste horrible… I used original Almond Breeze, a whole very ripe banana, handful of spinach, tsp PB and a drizzle of honey. Amazingly, I think it was actually too sweet! But it did taste really good and I loved the colour :) next time I will skip the honey for sure.

Thanks Ange for inspiring me to try something new and healthy. And don’t worry, I will be eating healthy balanced meals all day, not green monsters for breakfast, lunch and dinner :) although I honestly could! yummy!

Reply

Katie May 27, 2009

I love this post! It’s so interesting to think of diet and nutrition trends in the context of an entire century. I had no idea the Master Cleanse has been around for so long! I’ve never really stuck with an actual diet, I just try to eat healthy and well-balanced meals as often as possible.

Reply

AGS May 27, 2009

Where’s there’s a will. . . there’s a diet. Gack!

I finally found a diet that worked for me. It’s called the no-bake diet (this would *not* work for you, Angela!!!). I used to bake cookies for relaxation. . . but always, at some point, somehow, they were all gone in 1-2 days (into my belly). About a year ago, I basically stopped baking sweets. Now, when I do bake, I usually have a plan for what will happen to the remaining cookies/cake. Amazingly, I’m five pounds healthier, and I don’t miss either baking or the cookies. Somehow, trying new tomato sauce recipes has become my new relaxation.

Reply

Krista May 27, 2009

Another 1990′s fad was definitely the “low fat” one. Everyone was watching the fat content on labels. I remember that one well because I was prey to it for awhile!

I did follow Weight Watchers (and still loosley do) and lost 15lbs which I’ve kept off for 3 years. The prgram opened my eyes to portion control and the fact that I wasn’t eating enough fruits and veggies. If I needed to, I’d follow it again. I’ve never fallen victim to the low carb phase, though….

Reply

Alaska Amy May 27, 2009

My husband and I just ordered the P90X Workout DVDs. Overall I think that with the economy the way it is there is a trend for more people to shed the gym memberships and start doing stuff on their own. With this, I think that we will see a trend towards vegetarianism for the sole reason that meat is expensive and people are trying to cut back on their bills.

On a side note–Had a good morning walk/run for 2.5miles and 1 hour with the dogs at a great off-leash dog park in Anchorage. There were so many other dogs that consistent running was difficult. But it was a lot of fun. I also discovered that our hotel has Exercise TV for free, so I did 2 of the 10 minute workouts.

Also at exercisetv.com you can download or watch a bunch of free videos.

Reply

Leanne May 27, 2009

Diets are one of my favorite topics. As soon as people find out that I’m going to school for Dietetics, the first thing many will ask is, “what’s the best diet out there in your opinion?”

It’s really hard for people to think long-term about healthy eating when they’re not used to it. Thinking you only have to eat a certain way for the next month is a lot less intimidating. But I totally agree, it’s all about lifestyle changes no matter how small.

Reply

Kiersten May 27, 2009

I think that most diets are a waste of time and effort. Usually the goal of the [insert fad diet here] is to lose weight quickly. They never seem to focus on long term weight loss or educating people how to eat properly. Once you lose 20 lbs on Atkins and then go back to eating regularly, you’ll most likely gain the weight back. Some diets are so unrealistic (not to mention unhealthy) that there is no way they will have positive long term effects.

I have a strong hatred for the Atkins diet. Any diet that tells you to avoid fruit, but eat all the greasy bacon and red meat you want, is CRAP. I don’t care how much weight you can lose on a low/no carb diet, you’re going to do harm to your body eating that way.

I think a lot of the other fad diets are crazy too. They aren’t necessary either, you don’t need to be on a diet to lose weight or get healthy. People just need to learn about proper nutrition and get more exercise, instead of counting calories.

Reply

Ellen (Peace in Motion) May 27, 2009

I never quite understood cutting things out, because it ALWAYS makes you crave them more. Living solely on any one substance can not be goo for an extended period of time, hello nutrients! The of course there’s the standby “once you stop your diet, you gain it all back”. Most of the time this prove to be totally true. Losing weight (and staying healthy) involves a lifestyle change.

Lovely research. It was great to see it all in one place!

Reply

Ashley May 27, 2009

Oooooh interesting topic!!

I’ve been doing Weight Watchers since 2006. As a result of following the program I’ve lost 33 lbs and have been keeping it off since April 2007. I’m a big fan of the program and love that it promotes healthy eating and everything in moderation. I’ve been able to make the program work for me as I’ve switched into gluten-free, dairy-free living and continue to maintain my weight. I love the program, which probably explains why I’m a WW leader!

It’s really interesting to me to see the diet trends. I hope that society just continues to get healthier and recognize the need for change in the way most North Americans eat. I think that as more people become more eco-concious, more of society will turn to organic choices and less processed foods.

As for looking back in horror at the 2000 era diet trends, I don’t know! Things are constantly changing and evolving in our world and we can only continue to learn more!!

Reply

Kelsey May 27, 2009

holy long comments.. I loved the post + am going to have to come back + read the comments after work!!

Reply

Steph May 27, 2009

Hello! I have to say that I absolutely love your blog!!! I love the positive body talk; I don’t see that on many blogs. As for all of the diets? I think it is so sad! There are so many diets out there promising to make you skinny instead of healthy.

This is something I find interesting. I am vegan and some individuals say I am on a diet. I don’t consider vegetarianism or veganism a diet, but I do consider it a lifestyle. I think there is a definite difference!

Reply

SarahF May 27, 2009

I find it hilarious that the Atkins diet become so popular. The “Creator” of it needed to lose a bunch of weight quickly (because he was so obese he needed heart surgery) and that was how he did it. It was never meant to be a “life time” weight loss.

I was watching tv the other day and one of those celebrity shows came on (I think it was “50 Hottest Hollywood Bodies” or something like that) and they were talking about the secret to being thin and healthy. I absolutely loved it-Bif Naked (and since I’m a Canadian I already love her) goes, “You want to know the secret to being healthy and losing weight? Eat less and move more”. Now if we can just get these other celebrities to follow….

Reply

Gena May 27, 2009

I love this balanced, sane overview! Thanks, Angela. It sort of fits in with my latest post about fats!

I appreciate your healthy perspective, as always.

Reply

Natalie M. May 27, 2009

Not sure if you’ve read it yet Angela but I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food… it gives you an entirely different perspective on the food industry.

Reply

Recipes for Creativity May 27, 2009

Great post!

The only thing that has worked for me losing weight is journaling my food, counting calories, and working out. It didn’t much seem to matter what I ate, as long as I was burning more than I consumed. Also, there are times when I’m just really good at listening to my body and stopping a bit early compared to my fullness and have lost weight. I have tried some fad type diets, but they are diets, not lifestyles, and that just doesn’t work! But we keep trying :)

I agree with everyone who has mentioned vegetarianism/veganism/even raw foodism as a trend in the coming decades, but I wonder if that will be more of a lifestyle change, since it appears to be better for the environment, than a fad.

Great topic! Honestly, I was just reading that only 1 or 2% of adult men and 3% of adult women get the 3.5 to 5 cups of produce per day they should be eating – if 100% of us did that, we’d probably be a much thinner nation!

Reply

Erin May 27, 2009

Until people want to change their diets for their overall wellness as opposed to wanting to drop a few pounds in order to look as good as the next person, it won’t work.

Almost all diets work for a little while – but until you are making change for the right reasons, I just don’t think it will stick. Well, obviously. You all know that ;)

I have never dieted. Only in the past year or so did I start examining what I ate and started to make changes so that I could be a healthier person. If weight came off, too, great. But it’s more about feeling better about ME as a whole, NOT just my appearance.

The future will be more vegan/vegetarianism/raw, as people have stated…or at least I think so. What else is there? Low carb, low fat, high protein, low sugar have already been tried and failed.

Reply

Jen May 27, 2009

I live in Japan, which I think is the land of stupid diet fads. A few years ago, there was a thing on TV (which later turned out to be completely fake) saying that eating natto, which is fermented soy beans, would help you to lose weight, and within a couple of days, you couldn’t find natto in the shops anywhere because it had completely sold out. Then there was the banana diet, and the beansprout diet etc…

I actually wrote my dissertation at Uni about body image in Japan, and it was quite worrying, especially seeing as lots of Japanese women are actually classed as underweight (about 12%, compared to 2-3% in the UK), but everyone still worries about losing weight, including lots of men (I can remember one of my male friends pinching his stomach, and complaining about how fat he was, and all that he was pinching was the top layer of skin – ridiculous!)

The stupidest thing is that it’s actually very hard to put on weight if you are eating traditional Japanese food, so there shouldn’t be any need for these faddy diets at all.

I think it’s just that people like being told what to do, and if you choose what you’re eating yourself, you only have yourself to blame if you don’t lose any weight.

Reply

Kathryn May 27, 2009

I STRONGLY dislike diets and the word. They do work because they restrict something which restricts calorie intake. The problem with diets is usually they are not balanced (leading to health problems), but furthermore they play mind games. I think weight watchers is pretty good they emphasize portion control and teach people how to eat, but it’s not a diet in my eyes. I just equate the word diet with disordered eating. It puts a label and a face on your problems. I think people just need to learn how to eat healthy *if weight watchers does that for them then it’s a great tool* and not obsess. Calorie counting maybe necessary for larger people so they have an idea of what a portion is and not some distorted view of it. I just don’t like diets they aren’t healthy. I was on one for years and was miserable I feel great now and NEVER count calories or touch the scale. I eat whatever I want, but I just make good choices most of the time. I am heavier, but I wouldn’t go back to that weight if I could.

Reply

Kathryn May 27, 2009

To add when I say heavier I’m at a healthy strong weight. My diet weight was under what it should have been… Eating healthy will regulate your body you shouldn’t need to diet if your eating what your supposed to your body will stay where it is happy if your exercising and eating well.

Reply

katerina May 27, 2009

Praying, priceless.

Reply

Jocelyn May 27, 2009

I am following weightwatchers points..
as a recovering (big time) binge/starve-aholic
weight watchers is basically re-teaching me everything I learned when I was a child.
Portions to me = a huge deal..I need to eat sensible portions and learn sensible portions ..which allows me to eat everything in moderation..

I think it is the most sensible plan to follow..it isnt about calorie counting..it’s not about JUST eating protein..cutting out carbs or restricting like crazy…it’s sensible..and works :) (at a slow weight loss that can be maintained in the long run)

Reply

Jess May 28, 2009

What a blast reading all the comments on here, sounds like everyone is on the right (and similar track). I admit that twice I have tried a fadish diet. The first time was over a year ago when I stupidly ordered the Nutrasystem diet. I knew several people personally (inclduing my bf at the time) who had lost significant weight on the program so I thought it was legit. I lost about 5lbs, simply because the food was NASTY and I would throw it out. Not to mention expensive. Live and learn. This past fall I tried to follow the South Beach Diet..which admittly is low carb but seemed resonable and was orginally designed for pedatric cardic patients (that’s me!). I followed it for the first two months-in which you are supposed to lose 10lbs in the first 2 weeks, etc. Didn’t work for me and I got bored with the food pretty quickly.
So, I’m back to what I’ve always known…it’s all about how active I am.
This is getting pretty long, but here are two concepts I like:
-It’s not a diet, it’s a “live-it” (that is from a Judy Blume book actually).
-If you didn’t put in all on in a week (and I’m fairly sure none of us have done that) it’s not all coming off in a week!

Reply

Page 1 of 212»

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: