Even though Meghan Trainor is currently ruling the airwaves with a relatable song about bringing booty back, a lot of people are still aching to lose weight. It seems like every day there is another diet fad being snapped up by the gullible masses. Whether you’re all about that bass or not, demand for weight-loss diet regimens will always remain, even those that come at the expense of life.
To many people, a good diet involves avoiding certain foods. This is a common misconception. If anything, some of these ‘good diets’ range from the unhinged to the out-and-out fatal.
Here are 10 of the nuttiest diets ever, and by ‘nutty’ we don’t mean their peanut content:
1. Tapeworm Diet
Yes, there was actually a time when people would rather swallow a parasite than be fat. We suspect people still would, if it weren’t for the FDA, which forbids this practice. This diet, which dates back to at least the early 20th century, involves ingesting pills that carry tapeworm eggs. As you would expect, the eggs hatch in your innards, where they grow up to become nine-metre long monsters that poke through your anus. The list of side effects from this diet is equally long. On the conservative side, you can expect to suffer from abdominal pain and diarrhoea/constipation. Left alone, a tapeworm can be lethal.
2. Cotton Ball Diet
This one is new—but no less dangerous. This diet, which gained traction in YouTube last year, requires the pre-meal consumption of five cotton balls, which can supposedly reduce appetite. Although you can dip the balls in a variety of palatable liquids, e.g. smoothies and lemonades, there is simply nothing edible about a cotton ball; it can even ravage your intestines. Once it exits a factory and enters a drugstore, cotton ceases to be organic.
3. Soup Diet
It’s easy enough to follow: Eat breakfast and then sip soup (cabbage or chicken) the rest of the day, for seven days. It’s just that the ramifications are not easy to swallow. By obviating entire food groups, this regimen will only set you up for nutritional deficits. You will become thinner, in exchange for lifeless-looking hair and skin. Plus, the weight loss is only short-lived. When you eat solid food again, count on the piles to pound.
4. Baby Food Diet
As its name suggests, this diet entails eating pureed baby food 14 times a day and then capping it all off with dinner. Fitness trainer Tracy Anderson, whose clientele has included Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Kate Hudson, is believed to have wheedled Jennifer Aniston into this diet. Aniston fans quickly parroted her regimen, thinking this is the answer to their weight issues. The only answers they got were protein deficit, atrophied muscles, decelerated metabolism, and overall nutritional imbalance. There is also a high risk of binge-eating during the dinner part.
5. Cookie Diet
For once in her life, Kim Kardashian was right: This diet is just plain “unhealthy.” The Cookie Diet, the creation of one Dr. Sanford Siegal, advocates limiting yourself to 800 calories daily, consisting largely of six specially formulated cookies. For perspective, the American College of Sport Medicine recommends a minimum of 1,200 calories per day.
6. Grapefruit Diet
Like the Cookie Diet, the Grapefruit Diet is caloric deprivation on a grand scale, allotting an intake equivalent to 800 calories, or ideally less, a day. First mainstreamed in the 1930s, the diet involves drinking grapefruit juice (64 ounces per day) before each meal, which can be anything you plan it to be, with no restrictions on oil, butter, or dressing. The idea is that grapefruits and protein can conspire to reduce weight. Nutritionists are not impressed. While grapefruits are healthy, they in and of themselves cannot cause weight reduction.
7. hCG Diet
If you think the above diet is bad, then you have not encountered the human choriogonadotropin (hCG) diet. Popularised in the 1950s, the hCG Diet only allows 500 calories a day and requires a daily injection/ingestion/topical application of the eponymous hormone, which is derived from the placenta. The science behind this one is shaky at best, as hCG is only indicated for treating fertility. If anything, hCG supplementation can be life-threatening, causing ovarian hyper-stimulation, in addition to blood clotting and depression.
Ever been reminded at the table to eat slowly and chew? Well, this diet is the extreme version of that admonition. This diet recommends masticating your meals, chewing them so many times until they turn liquid and you lose your appetite. Introduced in the 1900s, this diet was named after its developer, San Francisco art dealer Horace Fletcher, who boasted adherents like John Harvey Kellogg of the cereal fame. Fletcherism is not really that dangerous when you think about it, but you will run late for appointments with all that chewing.
9. Prolinn Diet
In the 1970s, physician Roger Linn proclaimed a miracle regimen that involved eating 400 calories worth of horns and hooves. Yes, you read that right. Those who tried this diet went on to have heart attacks.
10. Cigarette Diet
Back when cigarette ads were more brazen and government warnings were nonexistent, Lucky Strike would promise “you’ll never miss sweets that make you fat.” Yes, cigarette manufacturers in days of old would tell everyone that smoking is an active weight reduction tool. Not only is this pure myth but outright dangerous. In the intervening years, cigarettes have been rightly demonized as causes of heart disease and lung cancer.
Don’t be stupid
Ah the things you do for a slender body. Sometimes we not only ignore danger when it is staring at us in the face; we jump into it. If you want to lose weight, do it the time-honoured way: balanced nutrition and physical activity. A real diet would never put you in harm’s way.
Article by Julie Masci from New Life Nutrition. NLN is a team of dedicated dietitians and nutritionists based in Brisbane, Australia.