Breaking Down 20th Century Diets: The Good and The Bad

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Issue 165, Issues | 0 comments

The word “diet” has become a buzzword among U.S. citizens. Over the last few years, there has been an abnormally forceful push for fitness and health prioritization. But with so...

The word “diet” has become a buzzword among U.S. citizens. Over the last few years, there has been an abnormally forceful push for fitness and health prioritization. But with so many diets out there to try, which ones are actually good for you? Are there diets over the years that should make a comeback, and are there diets that should never be normalized again? 

Before diving into some diets from over the years, it should be established that rapid weight loss is not sustainable, and quick diets are not healthy for the human body. If you succumb to these fad diets, the odds are that you will gain back that weight very quickly. Additionally, diets paired with no exercise are usually not good for the human body. 


The Banting Diet 

In the early 1900s, an English man named William Banting used this diet to help him lose weight when he was considered obese. Once his success was shown, the Banting Diet appeared in health magazines and health manuals. The diet focused on high protein intake and low carbohydrates while particularly avoiding pork, beer, potatoes, and bread. The Banting Diet focused on avoiding carbs as much as possible, which set the trend for low-carb diets. 

When the 1920s feminine ideal of the “New Woman” emerged, this diet basis regained popularity. Eliminating carbs became a norm in women’s health magazines and in the diets of women in particular during that era. 

The idea of eliminating carbs altogether is not a very sustainable way to lose weight, nor is it necessary to see results. Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet means losing most whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which all hold essential nutrients for the human body. Therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge that eliminating carbs can help you lose weight, but it is not a sustainable way to live and is unnecessarily difficult to do. Rapid weight loss can be seen in the first few weeks due to a drop in water weight. However, some research shows that no-carb diets are ineffective for long-term weight loss. 


The F Plan Diet 

In the 70s and 80s era, fitness and aerobics became a big push along with dieting. The F Plan Diet was a popular one during this era and emphasized high fiber and low calories to achieve the beauty standard. It advised that people eat the following: muesli for breakfast, salads for lunch, and lean meats for dinner. This diet was created by Audrey Eyton, who founded Slimming Magazine. In 1983, her book F-Plan Diet was in the top 10 best-selling books in America for April and May. Her book focused on leaving diets at 1,500 calories or less per day while eating more than the recommended amount of dietary fiber. The idea of eating high-fiber diets was to make one feel fuller for longer and reduce overeating. 

Higher fiber diets are good for you as eating high fiber can help with weight loss, create gut bacteria, and regulate bathroom use. There are many ways to include more fiber in your diet as you plan your meals. Conduct a quick Google search to find high-fiber foods!


Calorie Deficit Diet

Calorie deficit diets are nothing new in the diet world. However, there has been a huge push for this particular form of eating over the past few years. The diet works in this way: eating fewer calories so that you burn more calories than you consume day-to-day. It does not regulate what foods you can eat and not eat, nor does it focus on anything except caloric intake. 

The amount of calories that one should consume daily depends on a few factors such as activity levels, age, and weight loss goals. You can use a calorie deficit calculator to find the proper amount of calories you should strive for in this diet. 

One issue with only focusing on caloric intake is that this diet does not focus on other nutrients needed for the body, such as fiber, protein, fats, or other macronutrients needed to function. Therefore, it is essential not to neglect other nutrients you need to survive and function when utilizing this diet. 


The Mediterranean Diet 

Doctors may have prescribed the Mediterranean Diet to you if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. It is often promoted to decrease the risks of these diseases and dementia. Essentially, the Mediterranean Diet is a primarily plant-based diet that includes a daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, herbs, and spices. Meat is eaten in small portions, with preferred proteins being fish or seafood. The diet emphasizes healthy fats such as olive oils, fish, nuts, avocados, and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. 

The good news with the Mediterranean Diet is that research shows consistently that it is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The downside of this diet is that it risks a higher calorie intake because of the lack of portion sizes recommended and certain foods that are high in calories. Excessive calorie intake can lead to weight gain. If the Mediterranean Diet is used in proper conjunction with caloric intake, it can promote healthy living along with weight loss. 


The Keto Diet 

The Keto Diet forces your body to use ketone bodies for fuel instead of relying on sugar from carbohydrates. This diet forces people to consume fewer than 20-50 grams of carbs daily. It also has a high-fat requirement meaning that those using this diet must consume fat at every meal. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, one can expect to consume 165 grams of fat a day. A few unsaturated fats are allowed, but the Keto Diet focuses most on saturated fats from oils to function. 

This diet comes with an array of health risks. High saturated fats can lead to heart disease and high cholesterol. It can also lead to nutrient deficiency very quickly if you do not eat a variety of vegetables, grains, and fruits. This diet can lead to liver problems, kidney problems, and constipation. It is important to consult a medical professional before beginning the Keto Diet. 


Fad Diet Warning

Fad diets are everywhere. What works for one person may not work for another in terms of weight loss and living healthier. While it is easy to fall into the world of fad diets, it is important to remember that everyone’s body and lifestyles are different. What works well for one person may not work for you. 

Your desires for your body and health should be considered when looking for a way to reach your goals. Research the diet you are considering and consult a medical professional before beginning an extreme diet. The last thing you want to do on your wellness journey is having the opposite effect you were looking for just because you decided to copy someone else’s diet plan!

Riley George

Riley George


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