Ever wonder why we end a meal with sweet food?
The Pineapple diet, the Moon diet, the Beverly Hills diet, the South Beach diet, Atkins diet, Dukan diet, Ketogenic diet, Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo diet, Raw food diet, Slow food diet, Intermittent fasting, juice cleanse, the list is endless!
With so many different diets becoming popular only to disappear soon after, we can’t help but wonder: where do the dead diets go? Is there a heaven for diets? A hell for the bad ones? Or do they reincarnate over and over again, coming back as some new trendy and short-lasting diet?
We all want an easy and quick-fix, a miracle diet that will make us live a long and healthy life, plus, make us feel fabulous, with plenty of energy, shiny hair and beautiful skin, right? No wonder there are so many different theories on what makes a perfect diet.
When and why was the first diet born?
“A good cook is half a physician”, wrote in 1547 the English physician Andrew Boorde. Since the early times, men have paid special attention to what they eat. Considering the medical therapies they had in the 16th and 17th centuries such as bloodletting and purging - not pleasant at all - doctors would give dietary bits of advice to their wealthy clients, trying to prevent illnesses with a healthy diet. Every court had numerous physicians who studied the nutritive properties of food and the best ways to prepare it.
In the 16th century, for example, the physicians believed sugar was the remedy for all disease and would help digestion, this is why any court banquet in England or France would consist of sweet food, whether pork meat, chicken or blancmange, the thick puree of fish or chicken with rice, almond milk and sugar, even the wine they drank was sweetened and seasoned with spices.
Fast-forward a hundred years and sugar becomes the big villain; the physician to King Henry IV of France wrote in 1606 that “under its whiteness, sugar hides a great blackness”. In the kitchens of all palaces and castles, chefs stopped mixing sugar with almost all the food and began using it only at the end of the meal, and that was the birth of the modern dessert as we know it.
With the firsts restaurants came the opportunity for the middle class, who couldn’t afford to have their own chefs, to have access to the nourishing diet of the court, which became pretty much standard in the Western world by the late 19th Century. So now that most people were well-fed, new problems arose: obesity and high cholesterol. So the physicians and chefs started looking for a new cuisine, tasty, nutritious and healthy.
And then all sorts of new diets began to appear and disappear before you can say “Knife!”
What are the craziest - and less efficient - diets ever?
The Sleeping diet
The theory behind this diet was very simple, you sleep for several days -sedated - so that you don’t eat! In the 70’s, Elvis Presley swore by this “amazing” diet to lose weight. We all know how that ended…
The Baby food diet
You have one meal a day and replace the rest of your food with up to 16 pots of baby food a day, to cleanse your body of all toxins. Really? Apparently, Lady Gaga has already tried it, but we can expect almost anything from someone who wore a dress made entirely in raw beef!
The Breatharian Institute of America offers workshops that cost a bargain $10.000, to teach you how to survive with no food nor water because all you need is the sun and your breath. The fact that at least three people have already died because of this diet doesn’t seem to bother some wanting to live from light.
You must listen to your body’s messages that tell you which kind of unprepared and unmixed food you should eat: raw meat, seafood and even insects, and if that weren’t odd enough, the "Instincto" prefer to eat their animal food “ripe”, or, in other words, aged, I think you can imagine what raw aged meat looks and smells like; Urgh!
So what’s the best option?
Studies have shown that common-sense is the best diet! To lead a long and healthy life you should eat a little of everything and nothing in excess. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken, eggs, seafood, and some red meat too. Don’t forget the whole grains, nuts, olive oil. If you can, give preference to bio, locally grown and seasonal food. Sugar and alcohol should be consumed with moderation. Think of diversity and variety of colours, and avoid frying and deep-frying when preparing your meals. And of course, drink plenty of water!
But if you think preparing a healthy meal is too time-consuming and you couldn’t be bothered, you can always try the Tapeworm diet that was quite popular in the early 20th century: you swallow a pill containing a parasite, the baby worm will eat all you eat, this means you can eat as much as you want and still lose weight. This crazy diet began in the Victorian Era and has already been banned; please, do not try it at home, darlings!