A Brief History of Fad Diets (And Why Paleo Is Here to Stay!)

It seems as though a new fad diet pops up on a weekly basis without fail. You finally know what one is about and maybe decide to try it out when suddenly there’s some new craze in this month’s magazines that’s guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve ever tried before. No matter what the diet is, it seems complicated and like a lot of work, though probably less work than closely monitoring all your meals in addition to exercising on a consistent basis. People want fast solutions, which has caused the rise of fad diets over the last couple hundred years.

Well, one of the newest diet crazes goes beyond a fad; the paleo diet! A nod to our caveman ancestors, this diet focuses on the foods that biology meant for us to consume.

Photo of  a pomegranate

History of Fad Diets

Fad diets have been around as early as the 1820s (though they likely existed long before that). In the 1820s, Lord Byron encouraged people to drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar in an effort to shed weight. At this time, other liquid-only diets were suggested and have stuck around since then. Over a hundred years later, the Grapefruit Diet rose to popularity, which encouraged a low calorie diet and a piece of this fruit with every meal. These relatively harmless diets were followed by others such as the founding of Weight Watchers in 1963, Slim Fast (a diet of mostly shakes with a daily substantial meal) and The Atkins Diet (low-carb, high protein) came onto the scene in the 1970s. In the 2000s, the South Beach Diet (a less intense version of Atkins) and juice cleanses become more popular and caught numerous followers.

In more recent years, the Paleo Diet burst onto the scene. This diet, however, has already proven its effectiveness.

The Paleo Diet

Why has the Paleo diet achieved so much popularity in recent years? To start, people began realizing that we’ve evolved over the last few million years from hunters and gatherers, but that it’s only within the last 10,000 or so years that humans settled onto farms and began producing food that way. Many argue that this period of time is incredibly short compared to the rest of human history and that our bodies have not yet properly adapted to consuming food this way. The root of this argument? Paleo diet is evolutionarily and historically best for the human body.

A main point of the Paleo Diet is cutting out grains, because our bodies haven’t developed to digest these properly, which explains the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Those suffering from celiac allergies are able to cut out gluten and eat a healthy diet through the paleo diet. The paleo diet has also helped reduce people’s symptoms who suffer from autoimmune diseases, along with various other conditions. Some people theorize that a root cause of many diseases lies in our incorrect diet, so switching to the paleo diet can help fix these issues. You’ll also take-in less sugars on the paleo diet, which can fight obesity and many other health issues, such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Paleo is still gaining steam, but those who follow the diet sing its praises and swear that it’s the best diet for any human.

What are your thoughts? What fad diets have you tried over the last few years (or decades)?

Photo of a steak on a bed of rosemary