The Evolution of Dieting

Evolution of Dieting

Health and fitness have frequently taken second place to a seemingly insatiable desire to look a specific way. Most people spend a lot of money on diet products that are designed for weight loss.

The reality is that 78% of Americans are obese or overweight, and those numbers are rising despite our constant switching of diet fads. Below are details on the history of dieting that are based on both the scientific and practical fads.

Ancient Dietary Practices

Unfortunately, ancient individuals who lived in caves did not learn how to express their ideas through writing, that’s why we don’t have any idea if they know the concept of dieting.

The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, expressed their opinions on the subject. The Greeks thought that having a good physique also means having a good mind. On the other hand, being overweight was not only unattractive, but it was also a symptom of mental instability.

The Greeks were fixated on health. In fact, rich families with spare time would exercise in a gymnasium for 8 hours per day, generally undressed.

The Greek physician, Hippocrates, who had existed about 400 BC, said that obese individuals would deal with bad sleeping, pains, cramps, constipation, and flatulence.

Not Eating to Achieve Holiness

Most Catholics thought that the body was the opponent of the spirit during the first few decades following Jesus. St. Augustine, St. Anthony, the early Desert Fathers, St. Basil, and St. Jerome, fought with eating, at times going hungry in order to become more divine.

Their delusions and other strange psychological processes could have been caused by anorexia mirabilis, or holy anorexia in slang words. Anorexia mirabilis was most common among religious Catholic women who deprived themselves of food for spiritual fulfillment.

Notable cases of anorexia mirabilis are those of Catherine of Siena and Angela of Foligno. Both of these women deprived themselves of food and only drank pus from the sores of sick people.

Liquid Fast of William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror developed the liquid fast around 1066 A.D intending to lose weight. This is after he was unable to saddle his horse and tumbled off with his head first. He stopped eating and embarked on a drinking person’s diet, where he only drank alcohol.

He mounted his horse again but this time under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, the saddle horn went through his intestines and this caused infections. He eventually died and could not fit into his coffin. Consequently, his intestines burst as the priests tried to push him in.

The First Diet Book of the World

Around 1500, the Renaissance started, and views in the Western World shifted to be more spiritual, sensual, and carefree. Obesity, however, was still deemed immoral, particularly since most individuals didn’t have enough food to consume.

Numerous remarks were made about Henry VIII’s roundness. John Halle advised people in 1550 to adopt eating simply. This is because more people were dying of overeating than the swords or the plague.

The Beginning of Contemporary Dieting in the Nineteenth Century

The ultimate goal of masculinity and femininity charm in the mid-nineteenth century was romantic and thin. Attire had become form-fitting for both men and women, which was a horrible thing for fat individuals. From 1850 – 1920, female gowns had to have a small laced-in midsection.

Breeches or tights were worn with stiff coats till the late nineteenth century when looser pants or trousers became fashionable. In a certain book from 1881, government institutions were even recommended to arrest and incarcerate obese people.

It was during this period that the first metabolism scientific research was done. The first low-carb diet book was also developed in the 19th century.


Based on the information mentioned above, dieting has a lengthy history. During certain periods, fat people were thought to be impure and immoral, which is likely why they adopted the practice of dieting. Although the reasons for dieting have changed over the years, this method of weight loss is prominent throughout the world.

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