Fad diets are nothing new. In fact, historians have found evidence of fad diets going back to ancient Roman times! And we’ve put together a list of some of the strangest – and most dangerous - fad diets. According to the new book, Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2-Thousand Years:
Fad diet #1: The Chew and Spit Diet. It was created by a man named Horace Fletcher, who believed you should chew a mouthful of food until all the “goodness” is extracted, and then spit out what’s left. In some cases, that meant chewing certain foods up to 700 times! The diet may have helped people lose weight but by not swallowing, experts say people weren’t getting the nutrients they needed to stay healthy.
Fad diet #2: The Vinegar Diet. That was made famous by British poet Lord Byron, who believed that in order to “cleanse” the body, we should drink vinegar daily, or eat foods that had been soaked in vinegar. Believe it or not, the diet was very popular with people who wanted to have Lord Byron’s fashionably thin looks. Nevermind the fact that one of the most common side effects of the Vinegar Diet was increased vomiting!
Next, there was the Arsenic Diet. In the 19th century, some companies marketed a “miracle potion” that included arsenic and strychnine – two chemicals that are extremely dangerous, even in small amounts. The combination was said to help speed up the metabolism. But as people soon discovered, it also boosted their risk of death from arsenic poisoning!
One more unusual fad diet: The Rubber Diet. That didn’t involve eating at all. Instead, Charles Goodyear – the man who invented Goodyear tires – came up with a set of rubber clothing that men and women could wear. The thinking was that the rubber would hold in fat, and cause sweating - which would lead to weight loss. Experts say the problem is that when we wear rubber all day, the skin underneath softens. And exposure to all that extra sweat makes us more prone to infection!