From Short-Term Quick Fixes to Sustainable Solutions: How Dieting Has Transformed Over Time

Published in
4 min readAug 4, 2023

Sphere’s Culture Lens is a visual database of over 10 million consumer images, organized by an AI search engine. It identifies images by object and context, giving you a glimpse into the consumer mindset on any topic of interest.

Healthy diets have been around for as long as we can remember, but the way we diet has undergone a profound change in recent years. Move aside, unhealthy fad diets — sustainability is in style.

The world has seen a number of widespread fad diets like juice cleanses, teatoxes, and Whole30. These tend to promise quick weight loss, require eliminating entire food groups, have strict rules, and restrict calorie intake — all of which tend to leave followers feeling unsatisfied and deprived, and are hence usually unsustainable in the long run.

To find out if these diets are still a popular way to achieve weight goals, we tapped into crowd-sourced images using Sphere’s Culture Lens app, which is a visual database of over 10 million consumer images organized by an AI-powered search engine. By pulling data that fit the keywords “dieting”, “dieting for weight loss”, and “healthy living”, we found images and descriptions that centered largely around nutrition and balance.

The most surprising thing we discovered? While people used to chase sharp declines in weight, that’s no longer the main priority when it comes to dieting. Gone are the days of quick fixes — we’re ushering in a new era of sustainable transformation.

A Holistic Approach to Dieting: Leading a Balanced and Sustainable Lifestyle

Today, people are increasingly recognizing the importance of adopting a healthier and balanced lifestyle. The focus has shifted away from extreme approaches and towards a healthier lifestyle that’s sustainable in the long run.

Popular hashtags used in captions of posts include fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle. There’s a new perspective on the rise, and it revolves largely around overall well-being. People are talking about curating a nutrient-rich diet rather than eliminating entire food groups, which is healthier for the body and gives it the nutrients it needs on a daily basis.

Mental Health as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s not just physical health, too. People are increasingly allowing themselves to have a flexible, guilt-free relationship with food — mindful indulgence, where you allow yourself moderate portions of your favorite indulgence rather than cutting it out altogether.

It’s great for mental health, because it frees people from the rigidity of needing to deprive themselves of the food that they love. Ultimately, it’ll contribute to making the diet a sustainable one.

In the same way, exercise is no longer portrayed purely as important for physical health, but as part and parcel of a holistic lifestyle for overall well-being.

Sustainability for the Environment

Many are turning to veganism or vegetarianism as well, as the effects of human consumption on the planet become increasingly apparent. The spotlight is now on plant-based foods, which offer a great number of nutrients, promote healthier lifestyles, and can substantially reduce our carbon footprint.

The move towards sustainability doesn’t just stop at the physical self. It reaches across those boundaries and highlights the importance of the mental self, and even the environment through a mindful and balanced diet.

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