Before Juice Cleansing – The History of Diets
It’s hard to imagine a time before dieting. Anywhere you go online, you’ll find tons of information about ways that you can maybe, just maybe, lose a few pounds. However, this isn’t a new age desire. People have wanted to get control of their weight, one way or the other, since ancient times. To the ancient Greeks, “diet" or “diaita" represented an entirely healthy way of life, not just your choices with food. We’ve come a long way before the juice cleanses today’s diets, so let’s see where the concept of dieting comes from!
Old School Dieting
For a lot of human history, the idea of a “diet" as we understand it wasn’t really a consideration. For many people, getting enough food was more of a concern than getting too much food. Indeed, being overweight was seen as fashionable in many places since it was an indicator of wealth.
Some of the wealthiest people in history took the whole “showing off their wealth" a little bit too far. Medieval kings, queens, and other rulers would have been the people most prone to overeating. What’s neat is that these were also the people most likely to have records about their attempts to combat their overeating.
Take Sancho I of Spain, given the rather unflattering title of “Sancho the Fat." Sancho apparently ate seven meals a day, mainly focused on meat. Naturally, this kind of diet led to the king developing what we would call today “morbid obesity".
Sancho I lived in 10th Century Medieval Spain, and he didn’t really know much about nutrition or dieting. In fact, his obesity got so bad that he was deposed as king! Thankfully, Sancho managed to run into one of the first nutritionists, Hasdai ibn Shaprut, a Jewish physician.
What’s sort of crazy is that Hasdai ibn Shaprut recommended Sancho take what could be considered the predecessor of an early juice cleanse diet, drinking a mixture of roots, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds. Sancho managed to lose enough weight to retake his throne – which just goes to prove the power of a good juice diet or liquid cleanse.
Of course, not all liquid diet trends were great back in olden times. It was surprisingly popular to adopt a diet of severe calorie restriction… mixed with copious amounts of alcohol. Apparently, it worked for many medieval noblemen, but we wouldn’t recommend swapping your green drink for a martini today!
What we consider to be the more “modern" style of diet can be said to have emerged in England. During the 18th and 19th centuries, England prospered on the world stage thanks to a global empire – which also meant there was a lot more tasty food being imported to Britain to enjoy. However, this was also a time when science was taking off, and there was a much more rigorous approach to dieting.
One of the first people to prescribe a diet was the 18th century English Physician George Cheyne. As an up-and-coming doctor, Cheyne got the bright idea that to best connect with potential patients in his area, he should spend as much time at local taverns as possible. Too many beers and bar snacks ended up giving Cheyne a bad case of obesity.
Cheyne decided, as a doctor, it was time to prescribe himself a solution. He was mocked at the time for his idea – a diet that dropped meats in favor of more vegetables. Despite the doubters, Cheyne’s diet worked wonders. He even penned a best-selling book about it – making him maybe the first nutritional blogger in history.
The Diet Craze
If we’re going to talk about the real rise of dieting as a craze, then we definitely need to cover William Banting. An undertaker living in Victorian Britain, Banting’s family handled funeral arrangements for the British Royal Family. This was a prestigious duty, but Banting’s comfortable lifestyle resulted in a less than comfortable waistline.
Since there weren’t really juice cleanse diets yet, Banting was on his own as far as coming up with a solution. He eventually found success in the advice of physician William Harvey, who was studying the diabetes management ideas of French doctor Claude Bernand. Banting seemed like the perfect chance to experiment with these ideas.
Banting’s diet focused on cutting the carbohydrates and sugars out of his diet – something that should be familiar to anyone interested in modern juice cleanse diets. The program was a resounding success. Banting would shed his pounds and live into his 80s. Banting was so excited by the change in his body that he shared his experience widely, starting one of the first dieting crazes in Victorian England. The Banting diet is still used by some today and is the precursor to the idea of “low carb diets."
Once people had figured out about carbs, the next thing on their list would be calories as a whole. At the turn of the century, Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories was published by Lulu Hunt Peters. This book was possibly the first to popularize the idea of “counting calories," which is a major dietary trend to this day.
Today, you’ll see ads or advice for dieting anywhere you look. Among the most popular diets of the post-WWII era are the juice diet and its derivative, the juice cleanse. What’s cool about the juice cleanse diet is how you can see the ideas that started it throughout the history of dieting – the desire to cut back on sugars, carbs, and calories.
Of course, not every juice cleanse diet is made equal. With Chef V, you can make sure you are getting a liquid cleanse that you can complete. Between our green drink and detox soups and smoothies, you’ll get all the nutrients and minerals you need to finish even a 21 day cleanse. Plus, it’s just plain delicious!