These Are the Diet Trends That Dominated the Last Decade
A look back at the diets that have come and gone — and a few that have been able to withstand the test of time.
It's often the buzzy fashion and pop culture moments that we remember most from the previous decade. But hear us out — diet trends can help define the teens just as well as the naked dress or Lizzo and her “feelin’ good as hell” mantra. (Remember the 1980s grapefruit diet? And who can forget the 2000s, when the Atkins diet gave everyone the green light to eat all the bacon?)
That’s why we’re taking a peek at some of the most popular diet trends of the 2010s. Find out which ones quickly fell by the wayside and the all-stars that will likely make their way into the 20s.
This 30-day elimination plan became a household name in 2010. Designed in 2009 as a reset protocol, the Whole30 diet asks its followers to eliminate some major food groups — sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy are all banned. Weighing yourself is also off the table; the diet’s creators instead ask participants to focus on non-scale victories, including fewer blemishes, whiter teeth, clothes that fit better, and a more optimistic mindset.
As for the diet’s staying power, it will likely carry followers both old and new into the next decade — the Whole30 is known for its #JanuaryWhole30 initiative, which encourages dieters to reset during the first month of the new year. Plus, co-creator Melissa Hartwig Urban continues to launch Whole30 cookbooks, including the recently released The Whole30 Friends & Family.
Baby Food Diet
The baby food diet — which, yes, requires eating jars of pureed food typically reserved for actual babies — gained popularity around 2010. This was in part due to celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who began touting the “cleanse” as a way to “eliminate toxicity and break bad habits, and still have your digestive system going.” Uh yeah, thanks, but no thanks! We're glad to have seen this one go just as quickly as it arrived on the scene.
Try as we might, we just can't seem to quit the juice cleanse craze. In the 1940s, we were introduced to the Master Cleanse (which involves sipping on a blend of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for 10 days) — and there have been new iterations ever since.
In the past decade, we saw the advent of at-home fruit and vegetable juice cleanses (think BluePrint or Pressed Juicery) that were also representative of our need to have everything delivered to our doorstep. Plus, the big juice cleanses of the teens had celeb backing — Salma Hayek created the Cooler Cleanse and Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop touted the benefits of now-defunct Organic Avenue's juice cleanse.
At the turn of the decade, juice cleanses are still going strong, but so are the urges of experts that they aren't healthy. Reminder: Your body is equipped with everything it needs to 'detox' on its own.
The most Googled diet term in 2013, this diet (also known as “the caveman diet") requires followers to stick with foods assumed to have been available during the Paleolithic era. That includes meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and healthy fats. Basically, if it wasn’t hunted, fished, or gathered, then it's off-limits. If you're having déjà vu, that's because the Whole30 and paleo diets are very similar when it comes to foods that get the green light and ones you should nix entirely.
And clearly, the diet is still going strong: Paleo Diet for Beginners, The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen, and Food: What the Heck Should I Cook? are all paleo cookbooks that were all released in 2019. Plus, The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2018 Food and Health Survey showed that the paleo diet is still one of the top 10 diets in the U.S.
Gluten-Free for Weight Loss
What was originally a necessity for those with Celiac disease became the trendy diet in 2013. In fact, even though there was no change in the rate of Celiac disease diagnoses between 2009 and 2014, the interest in gluten-free diets skyrocketed, according to a 2016 study. Researchers noted that approximately 1.76 million people in the U.S. had celiac disease, but an estimated 2.7 million people in the U.S. had cut or reduced their gluten consumption. This has been boosted by popular gluten-free diets, like the Whole30 and paleo diets, both of which nix gluten (and all other grains as well) as a means for losing weight.
The craze around cutting gluten specifically as a means for weight-loss seems to have dwindled, especially as people come to terms with the fact that a 'gluten-free' label doesn't necessarily mean healthy — and that you don't need to cut out carbs entirely to lose weight.
The diet gained traction around 2014, along with the idea that fat is not necessarily the villain it had been made out to be by the Standard American Diet (yeah, that food pyramid on the side of a Cheerios box). The diet’s philosophy, outlined in the book The Bulletproof Diet, instead placed an emphasis on the quality of fat you consume, instead of the quantity. Coconut oil, olives, grass-fed ghee, and almonds are all free game on the Bulletproof Diet, as are veggies, fruit, and grass-fed meat. The diet even came with its own spin on coffee named, you guessed it, Bulletproof Coffee, a concoction that involves stirring grass-fed butter into your coffee for more energy and increased ability to burn body fat.
While interest in this diet isn't going anywhere, it no doubt paved the way for the high-fat, low-carb keto craze of later years that has arguably even more staying power in the next decade.
The Charcoal Cleanse
In 2015 we experienced the "activated charcoal" boom. (Nope, not the kind you're used to smelling at a barbecue.) While typically used in water filtration systems to sift out toxins or in the ER to help treat overdoses, the black powder began popping up in just about everything. Juice companies mixed it into their cleansing programs and said it would help draw out 'impurities' from the body and even improve digestive health. (Personal care companies took note, too: Gray-hued deodorant, toothpaste, and face cleansers began lining shelves and boasting claims that they could add a detoxifying element to your beauty routine.)
But experts were quick to put the kibosh on consuming activated charcoal. Yes, it binds to everything — and that means everything, including important vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.
Raw Foods Diet
Riding on the back of the vegan diet is the raw foods lifestyle, a plant-based diet made popular by its steady rotation of uncooked vegetables, as well as dried fruits, soaked and sprouted grains, beans, or legumes, fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds, and cold-pressed oils. Depending on where you fall in the diet’s sliding scale, you may consider yourself a raw vegan, raw vegetarian (including eggs and raw dairy), or even raw carnivore, incorporating raw meat and fish into your diet.
The raw food diet isn’t new (there’s proof of its origins in the 1800s, according to the New York Academy of Medicine), but it saw a surge during the last decade. In fact, a raw foods diet was ranked the second most popular diet in 2016 (just behind paleo), earning a 92 percent increase in interest versus the year prior, according to a GrubHub study.
The animal-free diet isn’t new — World Vegan Day was established in 1994 — but it has seen a growth in followers during the teens. In 2014, only 1 percent of United States consumers said they were vegan; in 2017 that number jumped to 6 percent, according to a 2017 report by GlobalData. Further proof of its dominance? The Economist dubbed 2019 “the year of the vegan,” a declaration the publication tied to the increased availability of vegan food options, as well as millennial interest in an animal-product free lifestyle.
If you made it through the last two years without hearing the word “keto,” then it’s easy to assume you’ve been living under a rock. After all, the ketogenic diet (which was originally introduced in the 1920s as a means for treating epilepsy), has been making its rounds. Its popularity has been boosted by celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, who is reportedly a huge fan of the high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.
Like the Bulletproof Diet, keto focuses on incorporating high-quality fats into your diet. But unlike some other high-protein, low-carb diets (e.g. Whole30), large quantities of leafy greens and fresh vegetables are not fair game. Instead, they get counted along with the rest of the carbs you incorporate on the keto diet (fresh berries, for instance), which allows for 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Piggybacking off of the keto diet is intermittent fasting, which limits your eating to certain hours of the day. While there are many intermittent fasting schedules, one of the most popular involves squeezing your eating into an eight-hour window, then fasting for the other 16 hours, and drinking only water.
Interestingly enough, the keto diet and intermittent fasting began to be paired together by their followers. Followers report intermittent fasting increases the results of the keto diet, even leading to increased weight loss. While the research on the health benefits is slim, word of mouth alone has helped catapult this diet into the spotlight — and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
This diet is what it sounds like: All meat and animal products (like eggs or dairy) and zero carbs — no fruits, veggies, seeds, potatoes, legumes, or nuts. The carnivore diet gained popularity along with the keto diet, thanks to claims it could help cure everything from rheumatoid arthritis to depression. There hasn’t been any scientific-backed evidence to support such claims, but that hasn’t stopped the carnivore diet from gaining followers: One Reddit community has 106K followers and abides by the principle that they consume only “foods from the animal kingdom.”
And the diet has even had an effect on once-diehard vegans, including influencer Alyse Parker who announced in an Instagram post to her 219K followers that she had adopted a full carnivore diet.
Only time will tell, but there’s a good chance you’ll hear the word carnivore once or 1,000 times in 2020 and beyond.
With a ranking as the best commercial diet of 2019 and famous followers that include Oprah and Kate Hudson, you know Weight Watchers (now known as WW) had to make the list. The diet broke ground in 1963 when it delivered its followers a daily point system (in which foods are assigned point values) for helping them to lose weight.
Depsite a bit of controversy, with their new name and branding, plus easy app that helps track points, it's safe to say this nearly 60 year-old diet will last long through the 20s.
The Mediterranean Diet has managed to stay a classic throughout the teens. It was ranked the best diet of 2019 by US News and World Report — and for good reason. The Mediterranean Diet’s focus on lean protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit (and, yes, even a bit of wine and cheese) has made it a favorite among dietitians for several decades.
This story is a part of "The Teens": an exploration of what we loved, learned, and became in the last decade.