Grapefruit can change your life. Cabbage soup, too. Balancing the right carbs with the right fats extends one's youth. Smoking shaves off the pounds. Eating only vegetables is ethically right...
While Americans didn't invent ridiculous weight loss incentives (they date way back) or the assumption of moral superiority in one dining lifestyle over another (Hitler, after all, abstained from alcohol and meat), we seem particularly susceptible. Over the years we've heard from breatharians, who insisted yoga could moderate food cravings, advocates of the skim milk and banana diet, the infamous tapeworm diet and the Lucky Strike-sponsored weight loss technique involving several packs of cigarettes a day.
As short lived as its adherents, presumably.
Why are we so gullible? Might as well ask why our heroes these days tend to be on doltish side...although admittedly we'd love to achieve the popularity of Joe the Plumber or Glenn Beck.
Yeah, there are those who are subject to body chemistry and thus must take extreme measures to lose or maintain weight. Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with steak, bacon, cream-laced milkshakes, bread, potatoes or anything else--in moderation with appropriate exercise.
Simply put, there's no excuse for not exercising enough. And there's no excuse for these ten annoying fads...
10. Diet pills
Before speed and cocaine, these were all the rage when it came to thinning down to crack whore proportions. Diet pills were common from the 30s, when scientists introduced Dinitrophenol. While the drug did increase metabolism, it also had nasty little habits such as causing blindness. In the 50s, doctors began prescribing amphetamines--great idea. Next came Fen-Phen, which cured obesity by weakening heart valves in some cases. Why is this annoying: 'cause we keep on poppin'.
9. Roman binge-purge orgies
Vomitoriums were a privilege of Rome's wealthy. Though not really a weight loss technique back in imperial days (when party guests hit the purge troughs so they could extend that night's revelry). Poking fun at ancient ways is fun, certainly. What makes this annoying is that it reemerged during the 70s and 80s as a way for normal women and Karen Carpenter to meet runway standards before an early death.
8. The Atkins Diet
There was a time when this low-carb, high protein diet was so popular restaurants had to adjust their menus accordingly. Yet it went through several iterations--first having appeared in modern form back in the late 70s...and before that as the Banting diet in (if we remember correctly) 19th Century England. It weathered stories of bone loss and such, falling from favor shortly after Dr. Atkins died. We include it here in recognition of the craze it stirred in the late 90s and into the 00s. At one point you couldn't walk into a small group without encountering at least on on the Atkins plan.
7. The Scarsdale Diet
Same with this once hot diet. Dr. Herman Tarnower presented this highly regimented low fat, low carb, low calorie fast in his The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet back in 1978--two years before he was killed by his mistress (a tragic event that only boosted interest). It wasn't just a diet, it was a lifestyle adjustment--one that took all the fun out of eating (and probably life itself). On the plus side, many people reported quick results. Again we include it here as a marker of the mass appeal one diet plan can achieve. Annoying.
6. J. H. Kellogg's ideas
He was, by modern standards, a strange, obsessed and very annoying man. He fought against the dangerous urges married couples occasionally succumb to by advocating abstinence from sex and the hearty consumption of vegetables (which, presumably, would cure sexual appetite). He was convinced masturbation often led to death. He treated guests at his Battle Creek sanitarium to yogurt enemas. And he argued with his brother so vehemently over the recipe for their breakfast cereal (J.H. refused to allow sugar into the mix) that Will walked away with the company.
Of all the diets, this may be the one with the deepest roots. It's often described as a mix of Asian philosophy and Western vegetarianism, a low fat and high fiber regimen concerned with natural, seasonal foods as well as their yin and yang. Macrobiotic diets are actually quite healthy--as long as people account for the lack of calcium and certain vitamins. What makes it annoying it the insistence that true happiness and well-being depends on it--and that people like Madonna follow it.
In the fall of 1988, Oprah wheeled 60 plus pounds of raw animal fat onto her set to illustrate the weight she lost following this liquid protein fast over a four month period. Yeah, she also jogged five or so miles a day, but that hardly mattered to viewers--although the makers of Optifast were publicly concerned with the "quick fix" message implied by her stunt. Yes, she could have lost just as much weight by snipping off some of that hair--and she wouldn't have gained it back as quickly. Simply put, anything Oprah does outside of her charity work is annoying.
Give Richard Simmons some credit. He was a fat young adult and not all that enamored of fad diets. Then he went and made the sensible program of moderation and exercise annoying. Even more annoying: turning calorie counting and meal planning into something cute--and highly marketable.
2. Sylvester Graham's ideas
Before Kellogg, there was Graham. The Connecticut preacher was convinced that a vegetarian diet would solve problems such as alcoholism and rampant sexual desire (which caused some otherwise decent couples to succumb more than a healthy once a month). And, since lust caused many diseases, or so he thought, vegetarianism would naturally make for a healthier world. He did, at least, leave us with Graham Crackers.
1. Extreme raw foodists
Normal fans of "raw foods" limit their reliance to a certain portion of their diet. Nothing annoying there. Extremists, however, are one strange bunch. Some refuse, for example, to drink bottled spring water as storage under unnatural conditions (artificial lighting) re-arranges the atomic structure...or something to that effect. The extremists are obsessed with purity, have a sense of self-righteousness that makes them annoying even to normal raw foodists. Some insist we must life a raw lifestyle so we can be as healthy as animals in the wild. Others refuse to touch honey because they consider bees an enslaved and exploited creature. They are truly annoying.
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