From the cookie diet to the grapefruit diet, we modern Americans have had our share of strange weight loss plans.
But just be glad you didn't live a century or two ago when diet fads included drinking vinegar and ingesting tapeworms.
The London Telegraph described some of the more cringe-worthy diet tips from history:
1. Vinegar and water
Made popular in the 1820s by English poet Lord Byron, the vinegar and water diet involved drinking as much of both liquids as possible so the body was saturated. The side effects were rather predictable: vomiting and diarrhea. Other than the temporary weight loss caused by the aforementioned side effects, there is no evidence it led to actual weight loss.
2. Slimming soap
If only this worked, we would all be thin--and clean! Several "slimming soaps" emerged in the 1920s named "La-Mar Reducing Soap" and "Fatoff" that claimed to take off excess body fat just by lathering up in the tub. Some claimed to take off as much as six pounds of fat in a single day. One advertisement for La-Mar Reducing Soap claimed: "Be as slim as you wish. Acts like magic in reducing double chin, abdomen, ungainly ankles...or any superfluous fat on body."
3. Cabbage soup
In the boom years of the 1950s, the cabbage soup diet became popular with claims of losing 10 to 15 pounds a week by eating two bowls of cabbage soup a day. The only other food allowed was fruit (but no bananas), vegetables, one baked potato, skim milk and a small portion of beef. Only certain of these foods were allowed per day. Dieters did lose weight, but it was not safe to use for more than seven days.
4. Sweet sherry
In the mid-50s, a woman named Barbara Taylor wrote an article for the Telegraph promoting a "diet for Mrs. Average." Every meal should be topped off with a glass of sweet sherry (150 calories) or a dry sherry (120 calories). Although it didn't lead to weight loss, we're thinking the women on the sweet sherry diet were too happy to care.
This extreme diet was popularized in the 1950s by opera singer Maria Calla, who lost 65 pounds on it. Or so legend has it. The (brave) dieter swallows a pill that is packed with tapeworms. The parasites do all the work for you, eating up your fat from the inside. It turns out that Maria Callas was afflicted with tapeworms, but it wasn't because of a diet plan. The singer ate a lot of raw steak and liver, both of which were prone to contamination.
The proven advice of eating less and moving more to lose weight sounds smart, doesn't it?
--From the Editors at Netscape