And You Thought Cabbage Soup Was Bad: Introducing the 10 Craziest Diets in History
Sure, actresses like Christina Hendricks are helping, but then there's the all-new, pint-sized Jennifer Hudson, and of course we still have that Kate Moss concept of beauty lingering: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."
And nothing feels quite as good as hewing to your New Year's resolution -- which is likely the same one 9 out of 10 Americans swore to their full-length mirror they'd see through this calendar year.
But, just for one full-fat moment, let's celebrate the insanity! Because we've all gone on at least one ill-advised diet in our times, and we swear on our non-skinny jeans, there are just some things humans shouldn't do to slim down. In fact, we compiled a top 10 list of the craziest diets of all time.
1. The Vinegar Diet
When: 1820's to early Victorian Era.
While a lot of women of this era simply starved themselves to achieve the en vogue "frailty" look of the time, others opted for this diet that was made popular by the Romantic poet Lord Byron. Along with a talent for wooing both women and men with his sweet-nothings, Byron also suffered from severe bulimia and anorexia. To keep his weight practically skeletal in appearance, along with a tea and raw egg mixture, he also consumed mass amounts of water and vinegar which would result in vomiting and diarrhea. Yum, kissing a poet who constantly smells like vinegar sounds like a blast!
2. The Chewing Diet
When: Edwardian Era
In 1903, San Francisco art dealer, Horace Fletcher put his Chewing Diet on the map when he dropped 40 pounds from literally over-chewing his food. The idea is to chew each bite of your food AT LEAST 32 times. After each bite is chewed to the smallest miniscule possible, one must then tilt their head back and allow those former full bites to "trickle" down their throat. However, should any part of the bite still be too large to swallow at that time, it is supposed to then be spit out – classy, right? Yes, you're at a restaurant, and you're filling your white linen napkin with half-chewed food particles. Don't be surprised when suddenly your invitations to dinner parties start getting conveniently lost in the mail if you go this route.
3. The Tapeworm Diet.
When: Turn of the century
Why chew your food only to spit it out, when you can infect your body with a parasite? Once upon a time tapeworms were sold in a pill form so they could wreck havoc on their host's body all in the name of being thin. Once the tapeworms firmly attach themselves to your insides they proceed to suck up all the nutrients from whatever food is being consumed, resulting in not only being able to eat more and more, but continually lose weight. While a decent size tapeworm can lead to a weight loss between one and two pounds a week, it can also create massive internal infections as well as cysts on the brain, eyes and spinal chord if it's allowed to grow out of control. The only way to stop the tapeworm is to take an anti-biotic and eventually pass the wormy li'l devil. However, due to its possible lethal effects, The Tapeworm Diet, or rather the selling of the vermin for such purposes, is now illegal in the United States.
4. The Cigarette Diet
Long before anti-smoking campaigns started, consumers were introduced to cigarettes as not only a way to look cool, but to suppress your appetite. Yes, it's a fact that cigarettes will kill your desire to eat a lot, but in 1925, Lucky Strike's magazine ads actually read: "Pass me a Lucky – I pass up the sweets," and "Light a Lucky and you'll never miss sweets that make you fat." Lung cancer from cigarettes was apparently a way long off at this point, because not only were they used to stay slim, but pregnant women were inhaling them as if it were going out of style.
5. The Slimming Soap Diet
If smoking and tapeworms aren't cutting it, just shower more; at least you're not going to kill yourself by being overly clean, and you might even get more friends. In the 1930's, women were jumping on the slimming soap rage and swearing by the ability to wash away their fat. If only it were that easy, none of us would leave our showers ever. With products like "Fat-O-NO," and "La-Mar Reducing Soap" women couldn't get enough. However, the soap, despite their labels, was basically hand soaps without any proven scientific results. And when you take into consideration all that washing that was going on, it's no wonder women's skin didn't start falling off, chunks left and right, from being so obscenely dry from all that soap and water.
6. The Drinking Man's Diet
Liver and kidneys be damned! Robert Cameron's diet, and book of the same name, was released in 1964 – obviously to lovers of the sauce the world over. The Drinking Man's Diet focused on weight loss via carbohydrate control while consuming gin and vodka in surplus, as they are low-carb substitutes to so many other things you could be consuming. So the next time your boss is ticked off because you come back from your three martini lunch with your speech mildly slurred, just politely explain that you're on strict diet that requires you to drink alcohol at every meal; but no worries, because once you reach your goal weight, you'll kick your drunk lunch days to the curb.
7. The Sleeping Beauty Diet
Sleeping Beauty slept for a hundred years, but didn't age a bit; seems a bit far-fetched. She was also able to able to sleep all that time, and no one mentioned her weight after the fact; one would think she would have woken up looking for a donut and not a prince to save her. Perhaps Walt Disney's animated version wasn't the inspiration for The Sleeping Beauty Diet, but it was made popular with Jacqueline Susann's 1966 book, "Valley of the Dolls." While the three female characters in the book were popping "dolls" of all sorts, it was the has-been, overweight actress Neely O'Hara who resorted to the diet under a doctor's supervision. Basically, she was drugged to the hilt and slept for a week. If you're asleep, you can't eat; but if you're a sleep, you can't do a lot of other things, too.
8. The Prolinn (or The Last Chance Diet)
When one thinks of miracle liquids, it usually doesn't consist of ground animal remains, the likes of horns, hides, hooves, tendons, bones as well as other delicious slaughterhouse treats; or maybe it does. With all these goodies thrown together with artificial flavoring, coloring and the necessary enzymes to breakdown the, er, ingredients, Dr. Roger Linn stood by this invention of his, claiming that all one needed to lose weight was to drink this, um, stuff. The thought of this alone should make someone not want to eat ever again, so that in itself sounds like a better way to Thin Town than drinking cow hooves. But, hey, to each his own.
9. Breatharian Diet (or Air and Sunlight Diet)
Eating food is just silly and a waste of time when you're a Breatharian. Just skip breakfast and go straight outside and inhale deeply – feel full yet? Perhaps, you need a bigger gulp, and a few more at lunch, too. Breatharians believe that when human beings find the "purest sense of harmony" in the world their bodies no longer need food, sleep or water. Yes, not even water. Not to be a judgmental, but Breatharians sound like they're probably a cranky lot. Think about how you feel at 3pm on a Tuesday when you've skipped lunch and haven't slept since Sunday; not pretty.
10. The Cotton Ball Diet
When: Now-ish, it's said
It has long been rumored that models have been consuming water-soaked tissues to keep their weight down: all the taste and none of the calories. Oh, wait; none of the taste, none of the calories, AND you feel full. Along the same vein is The Cotton Ball Diet – and cotton balls are high in fiber! Not the kind of fiber you should want in your body, but fiber of some sort nonetheless. Unfortunately, most restaurants don't have cotton balls on their menus, so this is the type of behavior you'll have to engage in at home. Ideally, in a closet or under your bed, because if you can eat an entire bag of cotton balls and still be able to look yourself in the mirror, that's just indicative of a whole other world of issues.
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