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10 Strange Fad Diets

Most of us could probably stand to lose a few pounds and the good news is there are a lot of diets to choose from. The bad news is there are a lot of strange fad diets out there. While most of them probably aren’t harmful they can be unappetizing  – who wants to eat cabbage soup? If Twinkies are more your taste then you might want to try the diet that says you can lose weight munching on the delicious snack cakes. For those who have tried every other diet there’s one called the Last Chance Diet, but this fad diet sounds a little ominous.

10. Cotton Mouth

The cotton ball diet is actually a real thing not an internet hoax. This strange fad diet got started in the fashion industry by models trying to stay as thin as possible. The idea is to dip the cotton balls in some kind of drink such as orange juice than swallow them to trick yourself into thinking you’ve actually eaten something. Although regular cotton balls will do, there are so-called cotton ball diet kits on the market. Unfortunately for the diner, cotton balls are not just unappetizing they are also undigestible so they tend to accumulate in the intestines. When clumps of cotton balls mix with mucus they form an obstruction called a bezoar. This obstruction can cause nausea, cramps, constipation and diarrhea. If these symptoms are left untreated they can lead to an infection and in some cases even death. Most health professionals consider people who use the cotton ball diet to be suffering from an eating disorder and in need of psychological treatment.

9. Suffer For Your Soup

Cabbage soup seems like something peasants in the middle ages would have been forced to eat, but apparently it’s popular with Hollywood celebrities   Soup isn’t the worst kind of diet, but let’s remember that it’s mostly water with some vegetables. In this case cabbage is the vegetable of choice, but cabbage and some water amounts to fasting. This is considered to be a short-term diet fix – who would want to use it for more than a week or two anyway? The only other foods you are supposed to eat while you’re on the diet are things like skim milk and fruit. Some proponents of the cabbage soup diet contend that your body will actually burn more calories digesting the soup than the soup has. If this is true than the more soup you eat the more weight you should lose. A lot of the cabbage soup diets say you can lose as many as 10 pounds in a week. The average weight loss on most diets is about 1-2 pounds a week so this diet makes a big promise. So if you want to slurp soup for a week or two the cabbage diet might be for you.

8. C Is For Cookie

Someone was listening to Cookie Monster because now his favorite treat is a strange fad diet. In 1975 Dr. Sanford Siegal started convinced overweight patients at his Miami practice to try his new cookie diet. Dr. Sanford promised them they could shed unwanted pounds without much effort. A number companies market special meal replacement cookies that you substitute for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Dinner is a small regular meal such as chicken and vegetables.  You can have these dietary cookies shipped to your house and after a month of eating these past treats you can expect to lose as much as 10 pounds. If eating cookies and losing weight seems too good to be true, well you know what they say. The catch is you’re on a very low calorie program that has you consuming no more than 1,000 calories a day so you can expect to be hungry and you probably won’t have the energy to do much exercise. Some critics of the cookie diet (Bert?) argue that low calorie diets are quick fixes that usually don’t result in long term weight loss. They can also lead to some health problems such as gallstones and heart palpitations so in this case “c” might stand for con.    

7. Over Easy              

Eggs can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, but a diet made up of just eggs is a fad diet. They are a good source of protein, but also a fair amount of fat and cholesterol. Some versions of the diet allow you to eat lean proteins like chicken breast and fish as well as some fruits and vegetables. So in a sense its a conventional reduced calorie diet that includes eggs which makes the eggs seem like a gimmick. The extreme egg diet allows only hard boiled eggs and water, but this not a balanced diet. The lack of carbohydrates in the extreme version can make you feel depleted and make it hard to exercise regularly or even have enough energy to get through a long day. A single egg can have as much as 186 grams of cholesterol, which is more than half of your recommended daily allowance. Even if you lose weight on an egg diet you are likely to gain the weight back and more once you go back to the way you were eating before the diet. Instead of relying on a gimmick it would be better to learn to eat healthy and exercise regularly for long term weight management.

6. Gone Bananas

Apparently banana peels are good for whitening your teeth. However, even if you really, really like bananas you probably wouldn’t want to eat 50 bananas a day, but this is what the Australian social media sensation, Leanne Ratcliffe recommends. “Freely the Banana Girl” has made a name for herself pushing the sweet fruit as the cornerstone of a raw, vegan lifestyle. On the plus side it is meant to be lifestyle instead of just a quick fix or a gimmick. The problem is very few people will wan to eat mostly bananas with some other fruits and baked potatoes. Although the foods Ratcliffe advocates are healthy, the lack of variety means you might not get a all the nutrients you need. There is a clear lack of protein in the diet and if your body is deprived of protein you will lose muscle mass and have less energy. On a practical note it seems like eating mostly one food every day, even if you love it, would be tough to maintain over the long term. This is another strange fad diet that gets attention because it’s an radical plan sold by an attractive woman.

5. Into The Mouth Of Babes

Babies are notoriously picky eaters, but pureed vegetables, fruits and meats are a huge industry so babies must be eating a lot of those little jars of food. But baby food isn’t just for babies anymore. Trainer to the stars, Tracy Anderson, popularized this strange diet fad with clients like Jennifer Aniston singing its praises. Jars of baby food range from 20 to 100 calories and come in a surprisingly large number of flavors including mangos, Kiwi, prunes, chicken and rice, turkey with gravy and ham with gravy. These recipes tend to be low in fat and salt which is a good thing, but they are also low in fiber which is bad. The basic diet plan calls for replacing 2 meals each day with jars of baby food. This could mean going through about 15 jars a day. Maybe this diet is a good way to learn portion control, but are you really prepared to sit at your office cubicle eating goo from tiny jars?

4. Snack Cake Snafu

Talk about too good to be true! Professor Mark Haub, an expert on nutrition wanted to lose weight so he put himself on a Twinkie diet. He lost about 30 pounds in 10 weeks and also managed to lower his bad cholesterol. While on the diet he ate a Twinkie every 3 hours. He also included a daily protein shake and vitamin supplement. Professor Haub’s choice of snacks was not limited to the golden snack cakes; he varied his junk food intake with other favorites like Oreos and Doritos. He credits his successful weight loss to simple math: he burned more calories than he consumed. His stunt caused a stir in nutrition circles as professionals came out to voice their concerns about this unhealthy diet. However, many of them did concede that such a diet will work, because as Professor Haub noted, he kept his caloric intake below his maintenance level. Even Haub doesn’t really recommend the Twinkie Diet; he was trying to make the point that when it comes to shedding pounds calories are calories.

3. Fruity

If there is a way of eating that is the polar opposite of the Twinkie Diet it is probably Fruitarianism. However, this strange fad diet is a least 500 years old because Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci described himself as a fruitarian.  A fruitarian is a person who most of the calories, usually about 75%, from fresh fruit. Practitioners will periodically supplement their diets with nuts and seeds. Strict fruitarians prefer to get their fruit naturally – after it has fallen off a tree instead of buying harvested produce, but this group seems like a small minority. For some fruitarians it is a political/social choice that goes way beyond any personal health benefits. While eating almost exclusively fruits might seem like a healthful way to eat there are some real drawbacks. Fruit is low in calories so you have to eat a lot of it to satisfy your daily needs to say nothing of feelings of hunger. The lack of protein can make you feel weak and you can suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies  such as B12 and calcium.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Eat

Relax, this isn’t about a diet that encourages you to  eat monkey meat. This is about a strange fad diet that encourages you to eat monkey food. Monkey chow is a dry pellet sized feed for primates made from a list of ingredients that includes soybean and corn meal, wheat, poultry fat and dried egg product. This feed will often make up the bulk of a monkey’s diet, but it is often supplemented with foods they’d eat in the wild such as nuts and fruits. Monkeys have high metabolisms so in addition to their regular meals they like to snack throughout the day. Monkey snacks include Monkey biscuits, but these sound like something one of the hairy critters might fling at you. According to person who tried the Monkey chow diet and blogged about his experience the chow tastes about like you’ed expect: bad. Even in a world of strange fad diets this one seems utterly pointless. Why not a chicken feed diet or a cat food diet? It seems like the only upside to this diet is that there is no cooking or preparation of any kind; you just pour a serving of pellets into a bowl. It sounds so unappealing you probably will lose some weight.

1. What Is Prolinn?

This drink looks about as appetizing as the “super food” in the 1973 science fiction movie Soylent Green. In 1976 a doctor named Roger Linn developed a low calorie diet plan called The Last Chance Diet. This somewhat ominously named diet used a powdered drink mix called Prolinn. This mix was made from leftover animal parts such as hooves, horns and tendons. He threw in some enzymes and flavoring for good measure, but it was really just slaughterhouse juice. Millions of people tried this liquid diet and presumably some of them lost weight, but unfortunately around 60 deaths were attributed to Prolinn. The victims’ experienced irregular heart rhythms that could have resulted from heart muscle shrinkage. But even if you don’t actually die from using it this low grade protein diet is short on many nutrients including protein, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Although this particular diet fell out of favor for a while, ingesting collagen for various health reasons has made a comeback. Most doctors and nutritional experts would never recommend such as a questionable plan because it’s a perfect example of a strange fad diet. 


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