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30 Years of Fad Diets and Food Trends


It’s that time of year, when we can’t help but look back at the events of the last 365 days and look forward to the year to come. And, as you may know, SHAPE turned 30 this year (check out photos from our star-studded birthday bash). In honor of our anniversary, and the year’s end, I decided to roundup some of the fad diets and food developments that have shaped the way we eat over the last 30 years. 

Lean Cuisine is created as a healthier alternative to Stouffer’s frozen meals. Because of the word “lean,” the FDA requires the product to meet "lean" criteria of less than 10g fat, 4.5g or less saturated fat, and less than 95mg cholesterol.

Coca-Cola releases Diet Coke. Two years later, it’s the world’s number-one diet soda.

Jenny Craig is founded in Melbourne, Australia. Two years later, the weight loss program opens its first location in the United States.

Ben & Jerry's introduces New York Super Fudge Chunk®, a flavor Ben develops at the suggestion of a writer from New York City.

The Food Network begins broadcasting with a handful of hosts (including Emeril—bam!). The era of the celebrity chef begins!

Miami cardiologist Arthur Agatston develops the South Beach Diet, which sheds light on “good” carbs.

FDA approves Olestra (Olean) initially used in potato chips WOW brand by Frito Lay.  

The FDA approves sucralose (Splenda). Because it does not change when heated, like previous sugar substitutes, it becomes a hit with home bakers and cooks.

Morgan Spurlock’s McDonald’s documentary, Super Size Me, premieres.

The year Starbucks surpasses 10,000 locations worldwide.

Triple Stuf Oreos, packed with three times more filling than the original, is released in limited cities for a one month trial before being permanently discontinued.

The Oxford American College Dictionary adds the term EVOO, short for extra-virgin olive oil, popularized by 30 Minute Meals host Rachel Ray.

More than 2,800 new whole grain products are introduced to the worldwide market, a 1,658% increase over the year 2000.

Four Loko is reintroduced without caffeine, taurine, and guarana after being banned in several states.

Nineteen years after its unveiling, the USDA pyramid is replaced by MyPlate.

As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.


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