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And you thought Atkins was bad! The VERY gruesome fad diets weight watchers have followed throughout history (including popping poison pills and swallowing a TAPEWORM)
- History Revealed magazine creates list of the most questionable historical diets
- In the Edwardian era, people used to replace meals with cigarettes
- Elvis Presley was rumoured to be a fan of a diet where you slept most of the day
From cutting out all carbohydrates to only eating cucumbers, there are hundreds of fad diets that claim to help you lose weight.
But if you thought these trendy but questionable diets was a modern concept, then think again.
People have been trying to come up with quick-fix programmes to lose weight fast throughout history, from as far back as the 1500s to the 1950s – and some of them were actually deadly.
From dining only on cabbage soup, to swallowing a tapeworm and eating poisonous arsenic, these are the most gruesome historical diets of all time – and they’ll make you think much more fondly of mainstream programmes like Atkins.
CIGARETTE SUPPER-SWAP (EDWARDIAN ERA)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-b523e35402a79cc0″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FBDDD00000578-4606436-image-m-5_1497518366933.jpg” height=”597″ width=”634″ alt=”In the Edwardian era, advertisements recommended swapping food for cigarettes (pictured: the painting Miss Granville in An Interrupted Honeymoon, featuring the actress Charlotte Granville with a cigarette, c. 1902)” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
In the Edwardian era, advertisements recommended swapping food for cigarettes (pictured: the painting Miss Granville in An Interrupted Honeymoon, featuring the actress Charlotte Granville with a cigarette, c. 1902)
When the power of advertising took off in the early 20th century, so too did this unhealthy meal replacement. Hoping to give women a reason to buy cigarettes, the brand Lucky Strike launched a campaign with the tagline: ‘Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet’.
The aggressive ad was published widely in fashion magazines and newspapers. However, the confectionery industry hit back and sued Lucky Strike, claiming that sweets were actually key to a balanced diet.
Nonetheless, the campaign meant business was booming, and they were the most profitable cigarette brand for two years running.
VINEGAR DIET (ROMANTIC ERA – 1800s)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-55f6c2d2204d4661″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FCA9800000578-4606436-image-a-10_1497519037643.jpg” height=”476″ width=”634″ alt=”The vinegar diet was said to have been created by Romantic poet Lord Byron. It involved drinking vinegar and water to quench the appetite” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
The vinegar diet was said to have been created by Romantic poet Lord Byron. It involved drinking vinegar and water to quench the appetite
It was Lord Byron, the waifish Romantic poet, who popularised this grim-tasting fad.
In 1820, he noted down in his diary that he maintained his slim figure by drinking a mixture of vinegar and water.
According to him, the acid quenched his appetite, so he ate only one meal a day. His female fans followed suit, after he made the claim that women ‘should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and champagne, the only truly feminine and becoming viands’.
FLETCHERISM (EARLY 20TH CENTURY)
Also known as the ‘chew-and-spit’ diet, this obsessive regime suggested that adherents should chew food hundreds of times, extracting all the ‘goodness’, before spitting out its ‘fibrous’ remains.
A single shallot, for example, should be munched 700 times. The notion was pioneered by an American named Horace Fletcher, who claimed he had lost 40 pounds.
He believed that if food was totally liquidised, it would reduce the calories. The jaw-aching trend reached its peak in the early 20th century, when prolific figures such as John D Rockefeller gave it a go.
SLEEPING BEAUTY (20TH CENTURY)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-cfe7f8d74f6e7caf” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FCA7A00000578-4606436-image-a-9_1497519035513.jpg” height=”423″ width=”634″ alt=”A diet where you artificially sedated yourself so that you were asleep for large portions of the day to keep calorie intake to a minimum was popular for a time but it was very dangerous” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
A diet where you artificially sedated yourself so that you were asleep for large portions of the day to keep calorie intake to a minimum was popular for a time but it was very dangerous
Though it’s true that a person can’t eat or be hungry if they’re asleep, this weight-loss plan isn’t recommended.
The theory behind it is that a dieter should sleep most hours of the day and night, in order to keep calorie intake to a bare minimum.
But in order to achieve this, followers – Elvis Presley was rumoured to have dabbled – artificially sedated themselves with drugs and alcohol, leading to long-term health damage.
ARSENIC (VICTORIAN ERA)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-63d60f619ec1f39d” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FD1EF00000578-4606436-image-m-12_1497519761369.jpg” height=”426″ width=”634″ alt=”A lot of Victorian diet pills were said to contain the poison arsenic” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
A lot of Victorian diet pills were said to contain the poison arsenic
Back in the Victorian era, you could get wonder cures for nearly anything, including obesity. Those wishing to shed the fat quickly could take a number of dubious pills, including ones that contained arsenic.
Though it was usually only a small amount, most people were unaware of exactly what they were taking, since it was (unsurprisingly) not advertised. As a result, keen dieters frequently overdosed on the pills, in some cases causing poisoning and death.
Arsenic was just one of the popular ingredients in weight-loss pills. Others included soap and even counter-productive lard.
CABBAGE SOUP (1940S AND ’50S)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-4c4f3a39f2d31b49″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FBDF600000578-4606436-image-a-6_1497518449683.jpg” height=”375″ width=”634″ alt=”The cabbage soup diet was popular after the Second World War but could give you bad breath and flatulence” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
The cabbage soup diet was popular after the Second World War but could give you bad breath and flatulence
Though it’s arguably the most unpopular meal in existence, a diet solely consisting of ‘nutritious’ cabbage soup gained a large following in the post-war era. The weight watcher was able to have as much of the soup as they could eat – so long as it was the only thing they ate.
Allegedly, you could lose up to ten pounds (four-and-a half kilograms) a week.
However, potential side-effects include flatulence, bad breath and possibly nausea when faced with yet another bowl of cabbage soup.
LOW HUMIDITY (1700s)
One early diet guru believed that living close to moist environments – such as swamps and marshes – could cause fatness.
In his 1727 The Causes and Effects of Corpulence, Sheffield doctor Thomas Short theorised that humidity created greater fat build-up, and advised plus-sized folk to move to drier areas.
TAPEWORM DIET (EARLY 20TH CENTURY TO 1950s)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-41894be28392b872″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FBE0500000578-4606436-image-a-7_1497518461320.jpg” height=”528″ width=”634″ alt=”Some people even used to swallow tapeworms to slim down – but it could cause starvation” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
Some people even used to swallow tapeworms to slim down – but it could cause starvation
The most stomach-churning item on our list has to be the tapeworm diet – not for the faint of heart. This disgusting fad had its origins in the Victorian era, and meant swallowing a tapeworm, which then lived in the intestine eating digested food.
It was rumoured that Greek opera singer Maria Callas achieved drastic weight loss via this method, though she denied it. The parasite can grow up to 30 feet long, eat its way into other parts of the body, and cause starvation.
In the 1950s, Greek opera singer Maria Callas lost almost six stone in just one year.
THE HOLLYWOOD TREATMENT (SINCE 1930)
&amp;lt;img id=”i-11a26c5435b09ab4″ src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/06/15/10/416FBD5400000578-4606436-image-a-2_1497518193075.jpg” height=”395″ width=”306″ alt=”The latest issue of History Revealed is on sale now or visit historyrevealed.com.” class=”blkBorder img-share”/&amp;gt;
The latest issue of History Revealed is on sale now or visit historyrevealed.com.
The myth that grapefruit has calorie-burning properties has persisted since the 1930s.
Apparently, eating one half of the fruit with each meal will burn some of its fat, saving followers from doing it themselves by exercising. Despite consistently being proved false, the notion survives, and has spread to other fruits such as pineapple.
Crash diets are nothing new. A 16th-cenury Venetian merchant and libertine, Luigi Cornaro, decided to turn his failing health around.
Cutting down his allowance to 400g of food a day (but generously giving himself nearly a pint of wine), and eating mainly eggs, bread and soup, the old reprobate lived until he was around 100 years old. He published his radical eating habits in a bestselling book, The Art of Living Long (1588).
The latest issue of History Revealed is on sale now or visit historyrevealed.com.
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