Do you remember Ayds?
I was around 16 was when I first started dieting. I wanted to control my appetite to lose weight. I was about 110 pounds but this was the late 70s and early 80s and everyone was diet and exercise obsessed. And especially impressionable teenagers.
Calorie counting and diet aids were always a topic of conversation in my young crowd. Being ‘fat’ was social suicide. You wouldn’t be attractive to the boys even if you were of average weight. Everyone wanted to be ‘skinny’.
This was also the time when I had my driver’s license. So, meeting boys or hanging out with my friends was centered around fast-food places. That's where kids would congregate. We had an A & W drive in and McDonald’s opened around that time too. And my first job was at Dairy Queen.
There were lots of corner stores for chips, candy and soda. Not a fresh fruit or vegetable was consumed outside of the house. It was considered ‘cool’ to have enough money to eat at McDonald’s. And eating ‘homemade’ food was decidedly uncool. It meant that you didn’t have money of your own to spend.
So, it was really challenging. I wanted to be cool and eat all the junk food I wanted and yet stay ‘skinny’ like my other friends. And the advertising from both camps junk food vs. diet culture was overwhelming. Not a word about nutrition on either side, though.
Every one in my circle of teenage girlfriends knew about calorie counting. I went on my first restrictive diet which would top out at 1000 calories a day. It consisted of Lipton chicken noodle soup and two boiled hot dogs. These hotdogs were on bread as buns had more calories. With two carefully measured tablespoons of relish on each slice. And I was hungry all the time.
That’s when I learned about Ayds. I could buy them at Shopper’s Drug Mart and stop feeling so darn hungry all the time.
These chewy ‘candies’ were about ¾ of an inch square. As I remember, you ate two followed by a glass of warm water before meals. You could take them with coffee or tea. But I wasn’t allowed to drink either of these because of the caffeine.
A few years ago, when I was desperate to lose weight, I wondered why I didn’t see these Ayds candies anymore. I thought that it was because of the disease. Here’s a quotation from Wikipedia about this very thing.
By the mid-1980s, public awareness of the disease AIDS brought notoriety to the brand due to the phonetic similarity of names and the fact that the disease caused immense weight loss in patients. Initially sales were not negatively affected…"The product has been around for 45 years. Let the disease change its name."
So, they did change the name but the new name never took off so the product was quietly discontinued. Here was a product that had sales heavily driven by advertising. I even remember these ads and how compelling they were. Check out this YouTube of a compilation of Ayds ads.
Sounds good, eh? But did you see some flaws in the advertising? Some things that they could never get away with today. First, there are no before pictures. You are taking the word of the model. Second, they stress that the active ingredient is not a stimulant. Let’s look a little deeper into this.
There is another sinister reason why we don’t see this product around anymore. The active ingredient, at least in the late 70s and 80s was phenylpropanolamine (PPA). I thought it was like a fiber supplement because it filled you up. But it is in fact an amphetamine!
No wonder I wasn’t hungry. No wonder I was full of energy. No wonder I ate almost nothing for days at a time. No wonder I could stay up all night.
And yet the ads said no stimulants.
As it turned out, the FDA finally caught up to these liars and those peddling similar products. Here’s another quote from Wikipedia:
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory against the use of the drug in November 2000. In this advisory, the FDA requested that all drug companies discontinue marketing products containing PPA. The agency estimates that PPA caused between 200 and 500 strokes per year among 18-to-49-year-old users.
So even though the product name was probably the cause of its demise. It would have eventually been taken off the market because of the side effects of PPA use.
I now wonder if it could have contributed to my hypothyroid issues. It certainly was a factor in my yo-yo dieting and disordered eating. I would buy a box. Lose the weight. Eat a standard American diet. Gain weight. Buy another box and so on. For about 10 years until I moved to the big city and let it all hang out. But that’s another story.
Now fast forward to a few years ago. I was desperate to lose weight. I was even thinking about trying Ayds again. Obviously, I didn’t realize how destructive they were. But I couldn’t find them and decided to go with a more sustainable approach to weight loss.
That’s when I learned about the power of caloric density on a whole food plant-based diet. I was doing great but I was still having problems controlling my appetite. I put my Holistic Nutrition knowledge to work. I started taking glucomannan as an appetite suppressant. In the long term, I also take Spirulina that helps with blood sugar spikes.
To learn about glucomannan, check out my article: The Magic of Glucomannan. Or how to take it in food form, check out my article: Cooking with Konjac Root: A Noodle Fiend’s Solution. To learn about Spirulina, check out my article: How to Stop Cravings in their Tracks.
It is possible to control your appetite in a healthy and inexpensive way. So, if you have a problem with persistent hunger from blood sugar spikes, this could be your solution.