From putting tapeworms in your food to swallowing cotton balls, some diets are beyond wacky. Rhea Dhanbhoora tells you about some of the strangest diets out there and why you should not try them at home…
Celebrities have been known to start some ridiculous diet trends, from Reese Witherspoon’s baby food diet to Madonna’s air diet campaign — and the world follows. Most diets are idiosyncratic fads and even if they work, you’re just losing temporary weight. So, while celebrities are picking up and dropping diets like hot potatoes, we speak to nutritionist Purwa Duggal from Fortis Hospital, to bring you the lowdown on some of the strangest diets out there.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may be good for you, but it’s become one of the latest diets to make the rounds. It involves consuming apple cider, obtained from fermenting apples. The alcohol is converted to acetic acid due to the bacterial activity.
How it works: Because of the fibre content, when consumed before meals, apple cider vinegar helps aid weight loss, as it helps to control hunger and makes you feel full.
Expert opinion: It does help detoxify the body and has health promoting properties. But, for a lasting effect that will keep you strong and healthy as well as help you lose weight; you need to balance it with a good diet.
Aww, now there’s a cute one! Last month, Victoria Beckham became the latest celebrity to hop on to the baby food wagon, which Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon have been reported to have tried in a bid to lose weight quickly. The plan comprises of pureed meals with just one normal meal a day.
How it works: Pureed food cuts back on calories and is very easy to digest, which aids weight loss.
Expert opinion: It can be used as a quick fix solution to initiate weight loss, but you need a certain amount of calories in your body. Also, too many liquids can lead to the loosies, so be careful! Even if you manage to adhere to the boring, unappetising diet, you need to be careful — because let’s face it, even babies grow out of baby food!
We’re not kidding. A diet craze that swept Hong Kong a few years ago, this still makes us shudder. The diet involved ingesting parasitic worms, called Ascaris worms, to help you lose weight.
How it works: The worms present in your gut feed on the food you eat. They burrow in and as they eat, reduce the amount of calories in your body.
Expert opinion: We hope you’re not considering trying this. Apart from being gross, the process can cause infections, deprive your body off essential nutrients and cause serious health problems.
Rooted in spiritual beliefs, the concept of this diet includes thinking the body doesn’t need food to sustain it and that a person can survive on air alone. You can sometimes eat a bit, but stoic followers don’t even drink water.
How it works: It’s quite simple, isn’t it? Nothing is going into your body, so you’re going to lose weight. But, it’s more or less starvation in our eyes.
Expert opinion: Nutritionally as well as sensibly, this is the worst diet to consider. It’s similar to extreme fasting. It can cause nutritional deficiencies, result in severe malnutrition and there’s not a strong chance you’ll survive to be your slimmest best because, well, there’s only so long you can survive without food, right?
THE Cookie diet
Here’s a diet that can help you stop worrying about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar! When we first heard about this fad, we thought it would be our dream diet. Imagine snacking on cookies all day long and losing weight in the process! It’s no wonder that celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson and even curvy Kim Kardashian have been supporters of this diet, which includes restricting your calorie intake to 800 calories a day and supporting it with six cookies.
How it works: It’s calorie restricting and the cookies are around 90 calories each. So, you’re consuming very few calories and burning more than you consume.
Expert opinion: You’ll have to start consuming calories at some point to support your body. We think you might eventually get tired of all the cookies. And even if you don’t, it doesn’t contain any fuel burning products to help increase metabolism.
The Air diet
Madonna and Dolce & Gabbana made this a rage when an issue of the magazine Grazia, held pictures of her and other celebrities holding food, but not eating it. The concept of this diet leaves a lot to imagination, pretending you’re eating food you enjoy, while actually consuming soup made from salt and water.
How it works: It’s not as bad as Breatharianism, because you are consuming something, but because it’s just water and salt, which is expelled from your body quite easily, it’s almost like starvation.
Expert opinion: It will eventually lead to deficiencies and cause health problems.
A rage in America and rumoured to be one of the ways in which models lose weight quickly, this one is scary! And yes, it involves eating cotton balls. You can eat them dry or soak them in gelatin to help digest them.
How it works: They’re cotton balls. So, while dry and disgusting, they do fill you up and make you feel completely full. They’re low in calories so while you’ll feel full, they help you avoid putting on weight.
Expert opinion: This is one of those diets that is actually dangerous. You will not get the vitamins and nutrients that you need and it may also damage your digestive tract.
People do the craziest things to lose weight, including eating food with tapeworms. It’s like a variation of the parasitic worm diet, almost as if putting the worm in food will make it less disgusting. Anti-parasitic medication is taken to expel the worm once desired weight loss is achieved.
How it works: The ingested tapeworm feeds on the food you eat, reducing the amount of calories absorbed by your body.
Expert opinion: Don’t even go near this one. It may cause infections in your body, resulting in nutrient deficiencies as well as abdominal and rectal problems.
We wonder if Elvis Presley, who made this trend popular, was too obsessed with the Disney princess. As slim and trim as she may have been, the concept of sleeping for days without eating to lose weight seems silly.
How it works: We’re not sure. It’s obvious that you’re not eating when you’re asleep, which is why you’re not putting on weight. The diet works on the principle that the more you sleep, the less time you have to eat.
Expert opinion: It’s a strange diet because you’re going to wake up famished and eat more than usual. You can become undernourished and your hormonal balances will be adversely affected.
An on and off fad with celebrities, named after Horace Fletcher, the Great Masticator, this is another strange diet. It doesn’t seem like it’s dangerous, but it is a bit tedious to get through an entire meal with this process.
How it works: Remember when we were told to eat our meals as slowly as possible? This diet takes it a step further. You have to chew every mouthful of food thirty two times or till it turns liquid and drizzles down your throat. Sounds tedious, doesn’t it? It’s said to aid digestion and stop you from mindless eating.
Expert opinion: It’s a silly diet, because it’s only making you leave your meals unfinished because you’ll spend your time chewing. It results in a loss of nutrients over time.
Will five bites fill you up for the rest of the day? Celebrities such as Dolly Parton think it will! The diet is, to put it politely, ridiculous. It’s a portion control diet taken to extremes, limiting your portions to five bites and eradicating breakfast!
How it works: The diet is all about control. If you can live on just around ten bites of food a day, we’re sure you’ll lose the weight because you’re essentially not eating anything at all!
Expert opinion: You’re not eating breakfast, which isn’t good. You can eat any food you want within specified limits, so you’re not exactly missing out on anything. Except essential nutrients, of course.
Want a body like Beyonce? Then you’ll want to know about this diet, which she was on to lose weight during Dreamgirls. It’s a detox program where junk food is withheld along with normal food, making your diet lighter.
How it works: You’re eating and drinking tea and lemonade with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. So, it’s sort of like an extensive detoxification process. The lack of food helps you lose the weight.
Expert opinion: The diet helps eliminate body toxins but you could suffer from severe food deprivation, which can affect the proper functioning of your thyroid gland.
Get your spiritual hat on and see what this one entails! Also known as the Maker’s Diet, it was started by motivational speaker Jordan S. Rubin. It’s based on the principle that certain foods are either forbidden or acceptable to God. It’s a three phase diet, stretched over 40 days. In the first phase you eat carbohydrates, legumes and beans in small portions. In the second, you eat energy foods and in the third, you eat carbohydrates.
How it works: The diet detoxifies and cleanses your body, encouraging you to eat healthy foods in limited quantity.
Expert opinion: It’s stringent and difficult to follow, but it can help reduce weight and improve your health, so give this a try if you think you can rise up to the challenge.
The HCG diet includes a plan that’s restricted to 500 calories. But, that’s not all. The diet also requires you to take an HCG injection in order to help your weight loss endeavors. Britney Spears and Snooki have tried it, but it may not work in the long run.
How it works: HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, suppresses hunger and makes your body use fat as its fuel, helping you to lose weight quickly.
Expert opinion: The low calorie intake causes deficiencies. It can also result in low muscle mass, as most is used up as body fuel.
The strange diet became a fad because of a book by psychologist Seth Roberts. It includes eating 100-400 calories in a day in flavourless food such as olive oil. You have to have olive oil or sugar water between meals.
How it works: The olive oil and sugar water you’re consuming is obviously suppressing your appetite, leading to weight loss.
Expert opinion: The good news is that there’s no calorie counting, no exercise and no forbidden foods. The bad news? Consuming oil is gross and you’ll bounce back to your regular size the minute you stop the process.
More than wacky
Vinegar shots We can’t even begin to tell you why we don’t recommend the Megan Fox fad of vinegar shots taken before each meal. It’s claimed to flush out colon fats, but there’s no evidence to support that.
Vision diet The colour blue is said to suppress your appetite. So, apparently, if you wear blue everywhere, you’ll eat less. Feel free to try it out.
Product diets In the 1930s, they had a slimming soap that claimed to scrub off inches. And in modern times, there are lip glosses to suppress your appetite.
We’re not sure if they work at all.
Cigarette diet This was the craze back in the 1920s because cigarettes were supposed to suppress the appetite. We’re glad it’s off the table.
The drinking man People in the ’60s washed down all their meals with alcohol. We’re not sure how this one started, but we know for sure it doesn’t work.