At this time of the year everyone seems to be on a diet! The word diet originally comes from the Greek word diaita, meaning “way of living”, but now many people seem to be in a permanent cycle of dieting and overeating!
There’s a long history of dieting. One of the first dieticians was the English doctor George Cheyne who, in 1724 wrote An Essay of Health and Long Life. Then there was the Vinegar and Water Diet, made popular by Lord Byron in the 1820s.
However in Victorian times being obese was a way of showing you were financially successful, just think of all the corpulent characters like Mr Bumble in Dicken’s novels. The picture below (from Wellcome Images) is an advert for the effectiveness of J. Morison’s pills (the aim of these dodgy medicines was to put on weight)
Apparently according to this site, James Morrison (the quack doctor behind these pills) appealed to the general public because of the missionary like zeal in which he opposed “orthodox” medicine!
You’d think today, with all the information about nutrition, we’d know better. However our waist bands are expanding:
and even kids are getting diseases like Type 2 diabetes (which traditionally affected just elderley people).
A whole industry has sprung up to give us quick fix pills and silly diets. There’s that much confusion that people have forgotten the basics – the more you eat the more weight you’ll put on, and exercise helps you lose weight:
The food industry haven’t helped, introducing sugar (and even worse fructose) into foods which don’t need it and over processing everything. Wholefoods help you to feel full, but most people don’t eat much. Tasty vegetables, like turnips and swede, are out of fashion – but contain around 90% water (and there’s no calories in water).
So, as I sit down to a bowl of delicious homemade vegetable soup, I’m not worried about putting on pounds. Remember a diet is for life – and not just after Christmas!