We haven't lost our craving for fad diets. Anna Maxted looks back in hunger
1979: The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet by Dr Herman Tarnower. Bad news. As much celery and carrot as you wanted, and the recommended weight for a 5ft4in woman was given as 7st 12lb. A typical breakfast was half a grapefruit, one slice of wholemeal bread and a black coffee. You followed this high protein diet for two stomach-rumbling weeks, then alternated with a marginally less severe regime. A raw vegetable nightmare so extreme that Bugs Bunny would have revolted. Incidentally, Dr Tarnower was murdered by his lover.

1981 The Beverly Hills Diet by Judy Mazel. Pig out on hamburgers, cheesecake, ice-cream and lose weight. The theory was that the improper combination of carbohydrates and proteins - rather than fatty foods - made you obese because they are hard to digest together. Perversely, fatty foods are supposed to mix well with proteins and carbs. So while pancakes with syrup merited a death sentence, pancakes with butter were hailed as the route to a size 10. The catch is that you had to spend 10 days subsisting on pineapple to compensate, thereby accumulating enough wind to power a small yacht around the Solent.

1982 The F-Plan Diet by Audrey Eyton. High fibre, low fat meal plan. Fibrous foods such as Bran Flakes were extolled because they provided indigestible bulk which filled you up but emerged virtually intact at the other end. Unfortunately the F also stands for Fart, so you became a slender social pariah.

1984 The Cambridge Diet. Meals were replaced by sachets of powder that were mixed with water to make a flavoured drink (137 cals). For the reckless, there were also chocolate-coated meal bars (167 cals). This diet, forbidden to the "severely depressed", was distributed by trained counsellors. Today, Mars Bars are the only chocolate-coated bars which form an integral part of the nation's diet.

1988 Bai Lin Tea. "Bye Bye Fat, buy Bai Lin." A "slimming tea", endorsed by Samantha Fox. The ad said: "I lost 7lb without having to diet!" A licence to eat cream cakes, as a sip of tea magicked away the calories. According to the tabloids, "slimming conman Peter Foster netted pounds 20m from sales in Britain". Sadly, the slimtastic product was no more than a fermented tea imported from Taiwan. Foster was subsequently prosecuted.

1988 Rosemary Conley's Hip and Thigh Diet. Apparently, on this regime an average of 7.6cm went from waist and hips, 5.1cm from each thigh and - the depressing bit - 4.4cm from the bust. Worse: the low fat diet came with an exercise schedule. Two million copies sold, although experts now believe that the only way to shed fat from specific areas is through liposuction.

1993 The Food Combining Diet. Kathryn Marsden's 28-day plan adapted Dr William Hay's theory that mixing different kinds of food causes a build- up of toxins in the body. No starches with proteins - also wheat products and milk are heresy. As toxins were eliminated, the dieter might experience a "healing crisis", aka headaches, nausea or skin irritation. According to psychologist Jane Dunkfield, author of The Good Diet Guide, these symptoms "are very similar to symptoms of hunger".

1994 Dine Out and Lose Weight by French chef Michel Montignac. Your "disorganised way" of eating makes you fat. Mais oui, c'est le carb and protein story encore une fois. "Bad carbs" like potatoes and sugar were banned, but you could guzzle red wine, expensive chocolate, meat, cream and eggs. No bread or fruit with meals as they "upset the digestive process". Fact: eliminate a massive wodge of foods from your diet and you'll shed a few pounds. This apart, the food combining theory, say nutritionists, is "quackery". Admit it. You know that a box of Ferrero Rocher is no substitute for a balanced diet.