Diets of the 70’s – Weight Loss Flashback : What we tried then

Hottest Trendy Diets and Diet Books in 1970s

In 1970, the average person in a western country consumed approximately 7.4 kilos (16.4 pounds) of food weekly – or over 1 kilo (2.3 pounds) daily.[1]  Our food intake in 2017 is much greater than the average intake from fifty years ago. On average, we now take in from 1.4 kilos to 2.3 kilos (3 to 5 pounds) of food each day. Not including soft drinks!  This might be the reason why women and men in the 1970s had lighter bodies and less rates of obesity, which seem to be rising as regularly as we see new fast food chains pop up at every petrol station in Australia.

Let’s have some fun and travel back in time to take a look at the best diets that were popular in the 1970s.

And be sure to send an enquiry form to stay updated on healthy weight loss tips.  We’ll also be publishing the best diets of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s – so stay tuned to this blog.  Perhaps you might even like to mark our blog page as a favourite bookmark in your browser – especially if you’re wanting to lose weight and get fitter and healthier this year!

So what WERE the trendiest, most popular diets of the past (1970s era)?

Our blog writing team has dug around and come up with some of the most popular 1970’s dieting books of the era!  Either you – or your mother or grandmother – are likely to remember these popular plans.  Some of you may recognise the basis of these plans informing some of the CURRENTLY popular diets as well as fad diet regimes.

The thing you’ll want to remind yourself is that you are best off getting EXPERT advice on eating and nutrition to lose weight and get fit, rather than follow some fad diet or highly restrictive eating regime.

The proof is in the weight loss – not the pudding! (says Maven)!

1970: The Grapefruit Diet

Mayo Grapefruit Diet - 1970's Dieting Books

  • Called by many names such as the unofficial Mayo Clinic Diet, or the Hollywood Diet, this eating plan involves a protein-rich meal plan.
  • The unofficial MAYO Grapefruit diet focuses on consuming grapefruit (or juice from the grapefruit) at every meal.
  • Grapefruit is believed by some to contain a fat-burning enzyme, which some claim is essential for weight loss (or that can help optimise weight loss or fat loss).
  • The diet itself involves a 12-day plan; although over the decades since the 1970s, there have been numerous variations of the original grapefruit diet – most of which promised quick results.

1970: The 7-day Milk Diet

  • This 1970s pamphlet was put out by the California Milk Advisory Board, which basically replaced all meals with a simple glass of milk.
  • The added micronutrients in milk can help limit increased fat deposits and help you lose weight while preventing micro-nutrient deficiencies.

1970: The Sexy Pineapple Diet

The Sexy Pineapple Diet - 1970's Dieting Books

  • The Sexy Pineapple Diet was one of the bestselling diet books of the 1970’s.
  • It was written by Inge and Sten Hegeler.
  • This was one of the most popular 1970’s dieting books, claiming that replacing your meals with pineapple helped people lose a significant amount of fat or body weight.
  • The theory behind the diet plan was that pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which may help people digest fats more efficiently.
  • However, bromelain can lead to allergic reactions for some people.

1972: Scarsdale Diet

The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet - 1970's Dieting Books

  • Who over 45 or 50 can forget the popular Scarsdale diet, one of the most widely shared diet books ever to be published?
  • The Scarsdale Diet menu plans were created by Dr. Herman Tarnower.
  • His book “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet” aimed to help dieters release significant amounts of weight in just 2 weeks by reducing their caloric intake.
  • The Scarsdale diet was similar to the Atkins Diet, where you consume high amounts of proteins, low amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates, whilst emphasising intake of fruits and vegetables.

The Scarsdale Diet and the Atkins Diet were extremely popular amongst celebrities.

1975: The Cookie Diet

  • This diet was based on Dr. Sanford Siegal’s 1975 cookie invention, which contained a proprietary mixture of certain amino acids baked into a cookie that reportedly had a hunger-reduction or ‘hunger control’ effect.
  • This meal replacement cookie required dieters to eat 6 cookies (approximately 500 calories) during the day; and to consume 300 calories in the evening.
  • Siegal’s cookies had different flavors such as butterscotch, chocolate brownie, cinnamon oatmeal, blueberry, maple syrup and banana, and were thought to appeal to the sweet tooth of dieters and leave them feeling their taste-buds were being indulged whilst losing weight.

1976: Sleeping Beauty Diet

  • There were two different approaches to this popular diet of the 1970s.
  • One was to simply sleep as much as you possibly could, whenever you felt hungry.
  • The other approach was to use sedatives to induce sleep so that you would, in theory, sleep more and eat less.
  • However, most of these sedatives needed to be obtained via a prescription, and the 1970s were known for abuse of prescription drugs.
  • The formula in the Sleeping Beauty diet was simple, however: You can’t typically eat when you’re asleep.
  • Quality Sleep has been linked with better health and weight loss (and poor sleep with eating too much).
  • Unfortunately, sleeping using potentially addictive sleeping tablets or sleeping more than your body naturally requires may affect your overall health in a negative way.
  • It also takes your time away from you!

1977: Slim-fast Diet (Still being offered nearly 4 decades later!)

  • In this diet, Slim-Fast products such as shakes, meal bars and snack bars are used to replace all of your normal meals and food sources.
  • Slim-Fast types of diets aim to allow you to SKIP meals (and calories) whilst still being able to intake the right amount of nutrients.
  • You were also allowed to prepare an extremely low calorie (500-calorie) meal on a daily basis, so that you could enjoy small amounts of your favorite foods.
  • The risk of diets that use meal replacements are well known, and include:  too severe a restriction on calories, slower metabolism, yo-yo dieting and lack of learning to eat healthier proportions (food proportions) or to control normal eating (especially in social settings).

There were plenty more diet books, but these were some of the Best 1970’s Dieting Books in terms of popularity.

Not all of them worked of course, and some were downright ludicrous in what they promised or what they expected dieters to be able to adhere to.  That noted, for some people who used these eating plans and diet tips, weight loss did occur.

And even today, weight loss is the #1 New Years Resolution (and found on nearly ANY and ALL types of self-improvement lists) for those of us living in food-abundant countries.

So what DOES make for a great eating plan or effective diet for people who want to lose weight – especially a LOT of weight?

They key is to make it sustainable and get professional nutrition and health advice, as well as exercise coaching, from people with credentials in these fields.

The best eating plans or best diets will be the ones that are easy to follow, not overly restrictive, and healthy in terms of intake of nutrients.

They will also get you best weight loss results when you drink enough plain water (or water with lemon).

Read our other blogs on the most popular diet plans of the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.

DO consult with a qualified Australian Medical Practitioner for a full health assessment before beginning any eating plan and check to be sure it’s a healthy option for weight loss.

Healthy Approaches to Weight Loss.

Send us a confidential enquiry form to be kept up to date with the latest in healthy approaches to weight loss.

Happy Dieting Woman - 1970's Dieting Books

The best diets of the 1970s were effective for some people, but not all were effective or healthy, and popular diets continue to crop up year after year.

Not all people readily tolerate severe reductions in calories, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients in each meal. These drastic measures may be okay for short-term weight loss so long as your GP or Nutritionist has assessed your health and given you the thumbs up to try them; but overall, they may lead to certain health harms – do your research before you jump into any new diet fad.

And remember, slow and steady often wins the race with weight loss.  Too much weight loss too soon, and you’re likely to put it on again – plus a bonus round of 5 to 10 extra kilos.

If you are considering a “retro diet” that will suit your body type, lifestyle and preferences, find out what eating plans can actually HELP you lose weight or maintain an ideal weight or BMI (Body Mass Index).

You’re also welcome to contact us to find out which listed Registered Dietitians are in your area, or what other weight loss resources from Medical Professionals are available to you.

Simply fill in an enquiry form below for more information about the weight loss support teams and Bariatric Surgery practitioners in your region.



  1. Barbara Wexler (September 2006). Weight in America: Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Other Health Risks. Thomson Gale. ISBN 978-1-4144-0429-5.