Throughout history, people have been desperately pursuing weight loss. In our eagerness for fast results, we have gotten creative with our nutrition. If you thought the cabbage soup diet was weird, read on for the strangest fad diets in history.
The Avoiding Swamps Diet
Ever feel heavier near a swamp? It's not in your head. In 1727, Thomas Short observed that fat people live near swamps. His treatise titled The Causes and Effects of Corpulence introduced the only logical weight loss tip he could deduce: Move away from the swap.
The Tapeworm Diet
Why waste your time planning healthy meals when you can infect your body with ravenous parasites? At the turn of the 20th century, tapeworms were sold in pill form for diet purposes: Eat more and lose weight.
When baby tapeworms grew to 25 feet long and started causing seizures, meningitis or dementia, the U.S. government outlawed their sale. Other side effects included cysts on the brain, eyes, and spinal cord.
The Cotton Ball Diet
Feeling hungry? Pop a cotton ball. They're zero calories and they taste great?if you like the taste of nothing. At least they're bite-sized.
The Slimming Soap Diet
In the 1930s, if you couldn't melt your fat, you could always wash it away with soap products like "Fat-O-NO," and "Fatoff". Scrub hard, because they turned out to be hand soaps.
The Cigarette Diet
In the 1920s, people who were hungry were encouraged to grab a cigarette instead. Doctors prescribed it. Too much food may kill you, but cigarettes will only give you lung cancer.
The Drinking Man's Diet
Have a steak and wash it down with a martini. Alcohol is required at every meal and no restrictions on gin and vodka. Robert Cameron sold this diet pamphlet in the 1960s, priced at $1. Within two years he'd sold more than 2 million copies, a best seller.
Cameron's work is known as the first of low-carbohydrate diets, even though the Harvard School of Public Health declared it unhealthful. You can now buy a Kindle edition for $3.99.
The Sleeping Beauty Diet
Guess what? You can't eat when you're sleeping. Elvis was a proponent of this weight-loss method, encouraging people to sleep through most of the 1960s, sedated.
The Vinegar Diet
Lord Byron was accused of anorexia and bulimia, but that didn't stop him from popularizing the vinegar diet in the 1820s. His basic idea: Drink plenty of vinegar daily, plus one cup of tea and one raw egg. Side effects include vomiting and diarrhea.
The Graham Diet
In 1830, Sylvester Graham was a Presbyterian minister and early vegetarian who believed people were fat because they had too much sex. Although his diet of abstinence and veggies didn't last long, he's known today as the father of graham crackers.
The Vision Diet
The color blue is supposed to suppress appetite. So if you want to eat less, wear blue glasses. Everywhere. Just think of your life as one long 3D movie.
The Chewing Diet
In 1903 Horace Fletcher became known as "The Great Masticator" after his stunning 40-pound weight loss. His motivation? Being denied health insurance due to his weight. His secret? Chew each bite 32 times and spit out the remains. This diet's motto was so catchy it's hard to imagine why it didn't gain more popularity: "Nature will castigate those who don't masticate."
Avoid becoming the laughingstock of the next generation—stick to whole, natural foods and good old fashioned exercise.
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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an online editor for Active.com.