World's Wackiest Diets

Self Magazine

Julianne Pepitone, SELF magazine

From grapefruit to cabbage soup, diet trends have certainly changed through the ages. Here, a primer on the craziest.

3100 B.C.: Ancient Egyptians supposedly swig apple cider vinegar to drop pounds. Modern-day fans claim it curbs appetite and burns fat. Science says: didn't work then, still doesn't work now.

1600s: Seaweed, long thought to be trimming, is used in "weight loss soap" in East Asian countries. It's believed to shrink a fat layer. The slimming payoff is iffy at best, but people are squeaky-clean.


See more: Foods That Fight Belly Bloat


Early 1900s:
Some desperate dieters swallow pills containing tapeworm eggs, hoping the parasites will hatch and eat their meals. Risky! The worms can block the appendix and make you super sick. Also, gross.

1920s: The grapefruit diet has come and gone over the years, but it debuts in the flapper era. The gist: Eat half of one with each small meal. The fruit is healthy; the 800ish calorie diet, not so much.

1941:
The cleansing fad is born with the master cleanse. A 10-day liquid diet, it consists mostly of a "detox" drink made of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Anyone else feel hangry?

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1961
: Dr. Herman Taller claims safflower oil cancels out calories. He is later convicted of mail fraud for hawking worthless safflower-oil capsules, so we're going to call this one an epic fail.

1971: Named for the swank New York suburb where it was created, Dr. Herman Tarnower's Scarsdale medical diet is even stricter than Atkins. The only snacks allowed are carrots and celery. Painful.

See more: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

1980s
: The cabbage soup diet permits fruit, veggies and some meat, but mostly a ton of cabbage. Cue flatulence issues. So not hot.

2012: We've regressed to the Stone Age: The paleo diet is in. It preaches eating like a caveman (fish, veggies, lean meat). Anything that came "post-agriculture" (bread, cheese) is forbidden. Fingers crossed this trend goes extinct soon.


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