According to ABC News, there are over 100 million people currently on a diet in the United States alone. These people are unhappy with their weight, and that’s no surprise. Apparently, more than a third of the American population are overweight, and that percentage continues to increase. Because of this, the diet and weight loss industry is huge. People want to lose weight so much, that they’ll do just about anything, earning the industry $20 billion annually.
While there are some reasonable diets out there, particularly ones that encourage exercise and healthy eating habits, there are others that are just plain unhealthy. They could be frowned upon because they’re dangerous, or maybe because they obviously would never work. Whatever the case, these diets and weight loss trends need to be avoided at all costs.
Read on for our list of the 10 worst diet trends out there.
10. The Tapeworm Diet
For this diet, we’re getting into the realm of truly terrifying, creepy and disgusting. Imagine if you could eat all the food that you want and you still lost weight. That’s the selling point for the tapeworm diet, a dangerous weight loss trend that’s been around for over a century. In most cases, the dieter would order a pill that contained a tiny piece of tapeworm. The tapeworm would attach itself to the dieters intestines with its teeth and suck up all sorts of nutrients. Here’s where we get into creepy territory: the tapeworm then grows very, very long–up to 30 feet in length! Dr. Patricia Quinlisk of the Iowa Department of Health told The Today Show, “tapeworms will cause you to lose weight because you have this huge worm in your intestines eating your food.” What makes this diet so stupid, beyond how creepy it is, is that it’s detrimental to your health. You can die from this parasitic infection.
9. The Master Cleanse
If you have a lot of friends that try fad diets, you probably know at least one person who tried the master cleanse. You may have even done it yourself! This diet became popular in the early 2000s, though it was first introduced by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. Basically, during the diet, you don’t eat any food and only drink a concoction of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher and Pink have all followed this cleanse. But is it safe? According to WebMD, “Because you’re getting so few calories, you’ll probably lose weight. You’ll also be losing muscle and water. And you’re likely to gain the weight right back.” You’ll also be plagued by headaches, cravings and tiredness. Yeah, that’s not smart at all.
8. The Cabbage Soup Diet
Though the cabbage soup diet is only supposed to last for 7 days, that doesn’t make it a smart choice for losing weight. For this diet, the dieter eats cabbage soup exclusively for 7 days. They aren’t allowed to eat anything else, for the most part, and can only drink water. Why is this so dumb? Because you’ll only lose weight for those 7 days–if you can even last that long. As soon as you stop, you gain it back. Marie Claire Magazine said, “Critics believe that you are in fact losing water, rather than fat, on the plan which can result in you gaining weight again very quickly. Others have felt light-headed due to a lack of protein and some have reported severe flatulence!” No one wants that.
7. Smoking to Lose Weight
Some stupid diets have stood the test of time, and smoking cigarettes is one of them. Tobacco has been around for hundreds of years, and people quickly figured out that cigarettes were pretty good as an appetite suppressant. Who would want to eat when everything would just taste like tobacco? Starting in the 1920s, cigarette companies started advertising their product as a weight loss aid targeted to women. Lucky Strike Cigarettes were particularly heavy on this kind of advertising. Although we’ve now learned that smoking is especially bad for you–overall mortality of smokers is three times higher than non-smokers according to the CDC–people still use this method to suppress their appetites.
6. The 80 Bites Diet
Have you ever counted how many bites of food you have in a day? No, you probably haven’t. That’s because the number of bites you have doesn’t really mean anything. Yet, there’s an app out there that provides a counter for you so you can tick off each bite of food you have in a day. 80Bites maintains that a good, healthy diet consists of about 80 bites throughout the day. You have to wonder, though: How did they come up with that number? Plus, 80 bites of pizza, barbecue ribs and ice cream can’t be comparable to 80 bites of kale and Brussels sprouts. The silliest thing of all? Sitting down to a meal with your friends as you tap away on your phone every time you take a bite.
5. The Baby Food Diet
Although most of the diets on this list are so outrageous that no celebrity would ever try them, that’s not the case with the baby food diet. Jennifer Aniston and Lady Gaga have been rumored to trying this fad, and Cheryl Cole has admitted to being a fan. Rather than munching down on regular food, followers of this diet solely consume jars of baby food. 14 to 16 jars of baby food per day, to be exact. While this diet isn’t as dangerous as most of the others on this list, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a little weird–especially when you consider how notoriously disgusting baby food can taste. Dietitian Jim White told The Huffington Post, “Who wants to eat baby food 14 times a day? We’ve got to enjoy ourselves too, and chew our food. It’s just not livable.”
4. The Tongue Patch Diet
Imagine that every time you tried to eat something, whether an apple or a piece of chocolate cheesecake, you experienced immense pain in your mouth. You’d probably avoid eating–and you’d lose weight in the process. That’s the plan with the tongue patch diet. Rather than learning about healthy eating habits, dieters get a hard plastic mesh patch sewed to the top of their tongue by a plastic surgeon. The patch causes terrible pain every time you eat solid food. But most people do not think this is a good method. Plastic surgeon Dr. Christine Petti told ABC News, “I could never advise a procedure that would cause a patient pain. … Pain is not a good thing for anybody.” And, seeing that the tongue patch is taken off after 30 days, the odds of gaining the weight back immediately are very, very high. Doesn’t seem worth all the pain!
3. The Drunkorexia Diet
Any diet with “orexia” in the name should be a huge warning sign. When it comes to drunkorexia, it pairs two very dangerous habits: a drastic cut in calories from food and a huge and unhealthy intake of alcohol. Essentially, followers of this fad diet reduce their calories from food so much that they then replace the calorie deficit with binge-drinking, all without gaining weight. As WebMD says, “Unless medically supervised, don’t cut calories below 1,200 per day. Otherwise, you will struggle to get enough nutrients to fuel your activities and satisfy your hunger.” Many celebrities have been rumored drunkorexics, including Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Avoid this one, though! It can cause psychological problems, blackouts, addiction issues and death, to name a few.
2. The Cotton Ball Diet
When you think of diets, you probably think of controlling your nutrition through the food you eat. When it comes to the cotton ball diet, it doesn’t encourage eating better food–it doesn’t encourage eating any food at all. Instead, dieters eat cotton balls dipped in juice. Rather than this diet being a money-maker for the weight loss industry, it was instead a low-cost option for young girls to sate their appetite without eating any actual food. There are rumors that this has been a weight loss method for models for years now. As any reasonable person would already know, this “diet” is NOT safe. Dr. Ovidio Bermudez of the Eating Recovery Center of Denver told ABC News that, in addition to being an incredibly poor replacement for a healthy diet, the cotton balls can actually cause very harmful partial for full intestinal blockages.
1. The Air Diet
It’s hard to call this one a “diet.” After all, a real diet still requires you to eat food. But that’s not the case for the air diet. It’s a wacky idea perpetuated by Breatharianism, a belief that humans can live a healthy life without eating any food. Instead, they can subsist on air and the energy they get from the sun. With that description, you wouldn’t believe that anyone would take this diet seriously, yet there are people out there who supposedly follow it. The Ukrainian model, Valeria Lukyanova, known as the “Human Barbie” claims to be on the air diet, and even Madonna has been linked to this fad. But should someone follow this plan? No! There have been many deaths from starvation and dehydration attributed to this diet over the years.