Low Concept

The Victorian Orphan Diet

And other, better alternatives to the Paleo Diet craze.

The only difference between Kate Moss andOliver!’s Artful Dodger is some chimney soot and a jauntily placed top hat.

Photo illustration by Slate

The carbohydrate-free “Paleo Diet” is all the rage, mostly because if you cut out all carbs you will be all rage. But if you don’t want to follow a diet that might be based on inaccurate assumptions about historical eating habits, don’t despair. Here are some diets that are definitely based on inaccurate assumptions about historical eating habits.

The Victorian Orphan Diet

Weight-loss plans with too many rules are tough to follow, so this diet keeps things simple: You may have one serving per day of gruel, and no more. Don’t worry, you can still “cheat”: You’re allowed to eat any food you pick from the pockets of a well-heeled gentleman, as long as you give a cut to an anti-Semitic caricature. Follow this diet, and you’ll have the supple, malnourished limbs of a sallow-faced street urchin, or as it’s called today, “thigh gap.”

The Founding Father Diet

The Founding Fathers were full of great ideas like declaring independence, protesting taxation without representation, and convincing Ben Franklin to give up his ridiculous comb-over. So doesn’t it stand to reason that their diet was equally virtuous? The Founding Fathers ate only the most American of foods: hot dogs, apple pie, bald eagles, and hot eagle pies. Another popular colonial dish was a snake cut up into 13 parts and served on a political newspaper.

The Shakespeare Diet

The works of the Immortal Bard are open to interpretation, but careful readers will notice that not once does a character scarf down a Dairy Queen Blizzard. (His poems are more cryptic, especially Sonnet 155, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Sonic’s Shake?”). The best nutritional guidelines come from Macbeth: Not only is “eye of newt” an effective appetite suppressant, but if you’re about to indulge at a feast, the ghastly blood-covered ghost of the murdered Banquo will materialize to help you with portion control.

The Wizard Diet

Know why Merlin always wore that robe? Because if he took it off, Arthur might have gotten confused and tried to pull the sword from his rock-hard abs. That’s right, wizards were totally ripped. With the Wizard Diet, eat whatever you want, then use the power of alchemy to transform the contents of your stomach into nutritious broccoli.

The Ancient Israelite Diet

Eat only foods allowed in the Old Testament: no pork, no shellfish, no meat mixed with dairy. This diet can be difficult to follow in the modern day, so meet with a support group of like-minded dieters once a week—say, on Saturday. If you question this diet’s legitimacy, remember that it was invented thousands of years ago by an all-powerful, invisible God, which is a much better reason than “because a caveman maybe ate it.”

The Pharaoh Diet

Archaeologists and nutritionists agree: There’s no such thing as a fat mummy. Their secret? Pharaohs were so careful about what they put in their bodies, they had their internal organs removed during the mummification process. Consume nothing but a proprietary mixture of natron, bitumen, and preserving salts (just think of it as a “juice cleanse”) and you’ll have the body of a god in no time! Of course, it’ll be the body of an Egyptian god, so you may have the head of a jackal.

The Neanderthal Diet
No, this isn’t a different name for the Paleo Diet. Rather, it’s based on the dietary habits of the hominid that competed with our ancestors. There’s only one rule: Followers of the Neanderthal Diet should eat followers of the Paleo Diet. There’s no evidence that Neanderthals ate our Homo sapiens ancestors, but that seems like just the kind of information all those big-money scientists would want to keep out of the mainstream media. Don’t let the “experts” win! EAT THEM!