20 Crazy Ways People Used To Diet



Today, it is easier than ever to lose weight. We know pretty much everything about the nutritional values of different foods and ingredients, we have innumerable exercise regimens and diets that we can adhere to in order to lose weight and we have supplements that can aid us in our battle with excess weight. In addition to these, we also have various programs and apps that can further help us in our efforts.

Not that long ago, people did not have all this knowledge, but they still managed to lose weight. Or, at least they tried. We will be looking at some of these old school ways of losing weight, both the good ones and the bad ones; both the effective and the ineffective ones; both the reasonable and the crazy ones.

1.Wrapping themselves in rubber

Back in the late 19th century, rubber became all the rage as Charles Goodyear discovered the process of vulcanization which made it more durable and flexible and also cheaper to make. His discovery coincided with the explosion of dieting fads which were meant to help people (mostly women) lose weight.

The idea behind the rubber diet was to wrap the person in as much rubber as they can take, boosting the sweating, which was thought to improve the weight loss. The fad caught on and both men and women started using various rubber attires that were supposed to help them lose weight.

The result? The weight loss was negligible but with some serious side effects. Namely, these rubber attires were rough on the skin, causing sores, which would then inflame due to so much sweat, leading to severe infections, which were a much more severe problem than today considering that antibiotics would not be invented for a few decades later.


2. Smoking cigarettes. A lot of cigarettes

Cigarettes used to be much bigger back in the day. Not in the sense that actual cigarettes were bigger, but in the sense that everyone smoked and that no one realized that they might have negative effects on people’s health. For Christ’s sake, even The Flintstones used to feature cigarette commercials.

Therefore it should come as no surprise that some cigarette manufacturers saw an opportunity to advertise their products as weight loss aids. For instance, Lucky Strikes used to run an advertising campaign with the words, “Light a Lucky and you’ll never miss sweets that make you fat.”

Interestingly enough, there was something to their claims as it is a well-known fact that nicotine actually acts as an appetite suppressant. Of course, today we all know that the negative effects of smoking dramatically outweigh the potential weight-loss benefits and we hope that no one will take up smoking as a way to lose weight.


3. Lord Byron’s Fad Diet

One of the earliest examples of a fad diet is the one that was devised by Lord Byron, one of the Romanticism greats and an overall crazy guy who had quite a few ideas about life and living it to the fullest. He was also quite a dandy and he needed to stay thin. So, he came up with a diet of potatoes flattened and drenched in vinegar. The diet was pretty much what the name suggests.

It is difficult to really determine how effective this diet was, but we are pretty sure that it wasn’t the greatest idea in the world, considering how unappetizing the combination sounds and how bad the potatoes really are for your weight watching efforts.

Still, it is nice to know that people were just as likely to be caught up in a dieting fad


4. Fletcherism

One of the craziest dieting ideas that the people indulged in years ago was the so called Fletcherism which got its name from Horace Fletcher, an entrepreneur of sorts who was definitely not the most educated or knowledgeable person when it came to nutrition and weight loss. Still, his idea was novel and it sounded like something that might work.

This insane idea was that you can actually eat whatever you want and however much you want, as long as you chewed every bite for at least a hundred times. Yep, that was the whole idea. Somehow, he believed and people later believed him, that if you chew the food to such an extent that you turn it into a liquid in your mouth, you cannot gain weight. This actually happened in the early 20th century.

We cannot help but start wondering how long the meals took in households where Fletcherism took on.


5. Munching on sedatives

This is something many students have tried. You know, when your parents cut back on your allowance because you have poor grades so you try to sleep off your hunger.. When you sleep, you cannot eat and when you do not eat, you get slimmer. This is the basic idea behind the sleeping beauty diet. Only with this diet, the concept is taken to extremes.

Namely, this particular diet which was made famous by Elvis who reportedly tried to go on this diet to lose some of its Kingly weight entails getting sedated by some serious drugs which will make the dieter sleep for days on end, not just a few extra hours every day. We are talking day after day of doing nothing but sleeping under the influence of a ton of sedatives.

We hope that we do not have to tell you that this is one of the most ridiculous and dangerous ways to try and lose weight.


6. Cabbage soup diet

In the 1950s, our old ones started doing something that has survived to this day, for some reason. Namely, someone who has remained unknown has come up with a diet which consisted of nothing but cabbage soup for seven days. Okay, there was a bit of other vegetables and fruit thrown in for the variety, but it was mainly cabbage soup. We have a strong suspicion that it might have been invented by the cabbage growers’ organization or something like that.

Anyway, you can imagine how effective this diet is, but it did manage to survive and you will often hear people trying to lose the weight this way to this day. What is more, this particular diet started an entire line of soup-heavy diets that many people use to this day, even though everyone will tell you that such restrictive diets are no good for you.


7. Moving away from swamps

Yes, this one is truly as strange as it sounds. Namely, a guy called Thomas Short wrote a treatise in 1727 with the title The Causes and Effects of Corpulence. In it, he wrote in depth about the different causes and effects of being corpulent, i.e. overweight. The exact contents of the book will most probably only be known to those with particular interest in historical diets, but there is one part of the book that became a curiosity of sorts that is remembered to this day.

Namely, Mr. Short had an observation according to which obese people tend to live near swamps. Logically, his weight loss method was based on moving away from swamps. As simple as that.

To even begin to dissect this idea of his, or even his cause-and-effect analysis of this swamp-vicinity dynamic would be as much of a waste of time as his diet.

Still, if you live near a swamp and wish to lose weight, you might start thinking about moving.


8. Victorian anorexia

This is another one of the historical “insane” diets and one that you will most probably not be tempted to try out. Nor should you by any means.

Namely, in the second half of the 19th century, there was this notion among the aristocracy and thus also the middle class (who always strived to aristocracy) that a true lady needs to be as frail and as dainty as humanly possible. And since this petite figure was not something that most women were blessed by back in the day, this lead to a certain type of anorexia being propagated and encouraged.

This also had a lot to do with the spiritual and religious beliefs which saw purity and frailty as going hand in hand back in the day. We can only imagine how many lives were ruined willingly this way and it might be interesting to some to learn that anorexia is not a modern invention by any means.


9. The tapeworm diet

Perhaps the most outrageous and disgusting of all the old-school weight loss methods was the so-called tapeworm diet. Yes, it was exactly what you think it was. It entailed swallowing baby tapeworms that would then help themselves to the foods that you would eat, thus causing weight loss.

To a lot of people, this sounded like a great idea. You swallow a few worms and you let them do the work for you. You eat as much as you want and the little guys gobble up most of the food. The only problem is that after some time, these little guys were not little at all, as they could (and still can) grow to up to twenty-five feet in the intestine.

If this is not enough to make you sick to your stomach, you should know that tapeworms can also lead to meningitis, seizures and even dementia.

How’s that for a list of side effects?


10. The Inuit Diet

In the 1930s, an explored by the name Vilhjalmur Stefansson came up with a diet that he based on the eating habits of the Inuit people he lived with for years in the Arctic Circle. He noticed that the Inuits ate a very limited diet which included little more than raw fish, caribou meat and whale blubber. He also noticed that they were very healthy and that there were very few obese people among them.

He introduced the diet and he was stern about the fact that he lived eating nothing but the aforementioned foods for years. He even checked into the Bellevue Hospital in New York where his health was monitored while he ate exclusively these foods. The doctors declared him healthy after a few months.

With the knowledge we have today, it is impossible to recommend such a restrictive diet which contains almost no vegetables or fruit. Still, it is an interesting curiosity.


11. Being a woman

The life of an average woman has never been easy and if you think that we have it bad today, you should think about the ways our grandmothers, grand-grandmothers and so on lived their lives. It was not pretty. They slaved around the house their entire lives, getting up before the break of dawn, doing literally everything around the house, taking care of innumerable children and helping their husbands in the fields.

As a result of this, it was near impossible to gain weight, with all the chores and the manual work that they did. It was a sad life that they led, but one thing cannot be disputed – the fact that it was a life which made it almost impossible to become overweight except later in life when the metabolism and the poor quality of life do their things.

Still, we are certain no one would want a life like that just to stay thin.


12. Curbing That Appetite

Many people found low-calorie ways to curb their appetite so that they wouldn’t snack between meals. This allowed them to stick to their daily calorie plan and prevent them from munching fattening foods that were unkind to their waistlines. Some women relied on black coffee. Others found that a few grapes could stave off hunger. You might simply eat an apple or a pear if you’re feeling hungry between meals.

A couple almonds are another tried and true way to snack healthy. While there are many dieting products that promise to chemically suppress your appetite, why not simply eat something that’s healthy for you that can do the same thing? This way you can avoid those worrisome product recalls and questionable ingredients that often come up where weight loss supplements are involved.

Of course, we are not saying that everything people do in the yesteryear was too smart, like the aforementioned excessive coffee drinking.


13. Drinking Wine

While no one’s advocating you ramp up your alcohol intake substantially, having a glass or two of wine a day can actually help you keep off the pounds. One study that followed women for more than a decade found that women who drank one to two glasses of alcohol beverages each day incurred less weight gain than those who did not. In fact, those who drank wine gained the least amount of weight.

If you love wine, this is great news. However, be sure you don’t go beyond your one to two glasses because the healthful effects can be compromised by the negative effects of the alcohol. Studies have also determined that wine can be good for your cardiovascular health too. If you are concerned or have questions about the health benefits of wine, talk to your healthcare provider.

The best thing about this is that people didn’t really know about the beneficial effects of wine and an occasional drink but they did it.


14. Gardening

While eating vegetables is one thing, growing a garden and maintaining it is another trick up your mother’s sleeve when it comes to weight loss and fitness. If you don’t want a vegetable garden, then plant a flower garden. Revamp your landscape. Not only will you beautify your property, you’ll actually beautify yourself. Not only will the sunlight and exercise naturally improve your mood, but you’ll burn calories with every action.

While gardening, you’ll use all sorts of muscles and remain active for a significant period of time. In hot weather, you’ll actually be able to sweat off those pounds. Gardening involves stretching, lifting, pulling, bending, and squatting. Gardening can be incredibly strenuous and that’s a good thing when it comes to weight loss. This growing season, don’t hire a landscaper or lawn service. Get out there and get the workout you need to burn those calories.

Plus, you’ll end up with your own produce that you can use in your healthy cooking.


15. Keeping a Kitchen Scale

Many kitchens from yesteryear boasted kitchen scales. This is a great feature to bring back as a perfect tool for recognizing portions. You may scoff at measuring your foods, but many people did just that and could boast amazing figures. By measuring your food for each meal, you can portion it out on your plate in accordance with serving sizes. This will prevent you from eating excessively.

Even if you don’t feel full the first few times you portion your meal this way, you’ll get used to it. Often the first week of dieting is the toughest. However, your stomach will get used to smaller–healthier–portion sizes. If your meal is particularly delicious, simply save some as left-overs for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. You can still eat what you enjoy, but you’ll likely be eating the proper amount for your diet plan. Kitchen scales are widely available.


16. Joining A Weight Loss Group

People used to participate in large weight loss groups since it became popular to be thin. These ladies (let’s be honest, they were mostly women) might have met together on a Tuesday, for instance, to celebrate women who met their weight loss goals. This type of gathering had a purpose–to inspire and support each other to lose weight. It can be difficult to diet alone, but if you have supportive community of other dieters, you might feel that traveling that dieting road is easier.

Check your area for weight loss groups. Sometimes local churches or community centers will host these gatherings. If you can’t find one locally, consider starting one up yourself. You can meet each week to encourage one another and also to discuss various weight loss tips and solutions. By sharing strategies, you’ll be able to help each other lose weight. You can also invite guest speakers to talk about various diets and provide nutritional information about healthy eating.


17. Counting Calories

Simple and old-fashioned it may be, but tacking your calories each day and abiding by a limit is a tried and true method for losing weight. It’s also similar to the Weight Watchers point method for tracking what you eat. The problem with calorie counting is that you need to be accurate.

If you estimate the amount of calories in your salad dressing, for instance, you could be way off. In fact, you might even be eating double the amount of calories that you thought you were. Of course, mothers that were successful at counting calories learned to accurately assess the number or calories in the items they ate. This allowed them to keep a good count and to stick to their dieting plan.

It all came down to watching what you eat and how much you eat and this is still considered one of the safest and the most effective ways to lose weight.


18. Cutting Out Sugar

Many people from yesteryear simply cut out sugar and sweets in order to lose substantial weight. Another tried and true weight loss method, cutting out sugar will certainly help you cut down on calories. As sugar contains no beneficial calories, it’s one of those substances that you should seriously think about going without. If you want to cut back on sugar but are worried about your sweet tooth, you can substitute other items like agave nectar for sugar.

By loading up on fruits, you can still enjoy that sweet taste without ruining your figure. When baking, you might also be able to swap out the sugar for items like unsweetened applesauce. You don’t have to eliminate sugar entirely, but you can dramatically enhance your weight loss by making a substantial reduction in your sugar intake.

Cutting down on sugar is one of the simplest ways to lose weight and it has been since forever, which people understood somehow.


19. Doing manual labor

Probably the most effective ways in which our ancestors used to keep their weight in check was the work they did in order to survive. Two hundred years ago there were no offices where most of the people worked and gained weight as they played solitaire. The vast majority of people were doing heavy manual labor and it kept them fit.

Not only did they get all the exercise they needed to stay fit (and much more than that), but they also spent their days outside, in the fresh air, growing organic food which was the only type of food back in the day.

And then, at the end of the day, when every form of government known to Man came for their part of the crops, our ancestors didn’t have that much to eat anyway. It was the most effective form of weight loss known to man.

Still is.


20. Victory Gardens

Wartime women had to make ends meet with ration books and what they could produce from their own gardens. Many women planted and maintained victory gardens that allowed them to grow their own produce. This, of course, is healthful in so many ways. While our mothers didn’t know it, they were actually eating organic food even though they simply called it “food!”

Also, they were consuming the vegetables from their garden and veggies have far fewer calories than sugar-laden foods that we buy at the grocery store. If you want to lose weight like these women from yesteryear, be sure to consume more fruits and vegetables. Make salads part of your daily diet. Even if you don’t plant your own garden, you can still shop locally for farm-fresh produce. Incorporate various types of lettuce into your diet along with tomatoes, carrots, peppers, celery, and more. By filling up on more vegetables, you’ll be less tempted to indulge in fattening foods.

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