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With no shortage of weight loss tactics out there, it’s hard to find someone these days that hasn’t tried at least one of them: all carbs, no carbs, meat only, vegetarians and fruitarians, grain eaters, liquid meals, juicers and so on. Some are healthful and others are more extreme. But some people have taken their measures in weight loss to the absolute limits, not caring how dangerous, or even how crazy they might be. Here are 10 of the craziest ways people have tried to lose weight over the years.
10. The Cotton Ball Diet
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Basically, you dip four to five cotton balls in orange juice or something similar and ingest them. The premise is that it will make you feel fuller, thereby cutting your intake of food. The problem is, of course, that you’re eating cotton balls which are bleached synthetic fibers, loaded with chemicals. And, to state the obvious, cotton balls are not food.
This diet has become popular among ballerinas who feel immense pressure to maintain a low weight for their lifestyle. But Brandi Koksie, managing editor for Diets In Review, told ABC News “Nothing good can come of this. Absolutely nothing.”
9. The Breatharian Diet
Don’t worry, the only thing you have to cut out of your diet in order to be a breatharian is, well, basically everything. If you can believe it, the breatharian diet is a real thing. Otherwise known as inedia, this diet consists of (attempting to) live off of air, water and light alone. The light isn’t even sunlight, it’s supposedly meant to represent the nutritional source everyone has inside them. Whatever that really means. Mostly relevant in Buddhism and similar practices, it is basically a fancy way of saying “fasting.”
Seattle resident, Navenna Shine told the Huffington Post that by partaking in the breatharian lifestyle, she consumes her nutrition the same way that a plant does. She undertook the diet in front of the internet, setting up eight cameras throughout her house and blogging frequently. What was meant to be a 100 day experiment was halted at day 47, when Shine realized she was hungry. More recently, the woman who made headlines for having multiple plastic surgeries in order to look like Barbie, claims to be a breatharian.
8. The Graham Diet
The Graham Diet was created by Sylvester Graham in the nineteenth century, and follows a very strict vegetarian diet plan. As a Presbyterian minister of his time, Graham believed that an unhealthy diet lead to an even more unhealthy lifestyle. So, he created the graham cracker – a whole wheat, additive-free coarse bread/cracker that he believed to be the staple of a nutritious diet. Unfortunately, melted chocolate and marshmallows are not included in the Graham Diet.
7. Having Your Jaw Wired Shut
Most people find the biggest challenge of dieting is avoiding their favorite (and often fattening) foods. Well, making it so it’s impossible to eat them, is certainly one way to fix that. Having your jaw wired shut is an extreme measure people have taken in order to do just that. The public got to see this first hand during the second season of MTV’s original reality show, The Real World when Tami, who was already quite thin, had her jaw wired shut in order to lose more weight.
6. The hCg Diet
There are two hCg diets – the old version and the modern version. With the old version of the HCG Diet, participants received hCg (human chorionic gonadotropin) injections and stuck to a strict 500-calorie-a-day diet. You were also restricted from using any body oils or lotions and exercise was forbidden. What could possibly go wrong? Despite promising a pound-a-day weight loss, the diet fell out of favor when people became savvy to just how unhealthy it was.
But then came the revamped version, and it’s been picking up steam again. The problem is, the new version isn’t really that much different from the old version. It’s still touted as a 500 calorie-a-day diet with daily hCg injections. The rules are a little more lenient but still extreme in comparison to what is outlined as a healthy lifestyle by medical professionals.
5. Ear Stapling
Based on the principles of acupuncture, ear stapling supposedly works by pressing on the nerve points of the ear which control the appetite. The procedure involves having the cartilage of your ear stapled for anywhere from six weeks to three months. While this one isn’t necessarily as dangerous as most of the others, it definitely goes beyond cutting down on calories or hitting the gym a little more. Ear stapling and acupuncture techniques of the ear have been used for years, for things beyond weight loss, though, including quitting smoking.
4. The Feeding Tube Diet
The Feeding Tube Diet began making a mainstream splash when headlines touted it as a recently popular weight loss method for brides looking to shed a few pounds before their big day. It was obviously met with an onslaught of criticism, though, as it entails being fed by nothing other than a liquid diet, via a tube inserted through your nose. Every bride wants to look nice on their wedding day, but The Feeding Tube Diet definitely takes that desire to an unhealthy level.
When the drug Fen-Phen hit the scene in the 1990s, it was marketed as the miracle weight loss drug and the public took the bait. Looking for the fastest and easiest way to lose those unwanted pounds, Fen-Phen became the next big thing in the weight loss industry for years, and many users did shed weight while using it. The problem arose, however, in a paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996, which claimed to prove a correlation between Fen-Phen use and mitral valve dysfunction. Later that year, a 30 year old woman developed the same condition after one month of using the drug and died, which resulted in a media storm of the dangerous side effects and, obviously, a major drop in Fen-Phen supporters.
2. The Last Chance Diet
As far as dangerous diets go, The Last Chance Diet tops the charts. It hit the scene in 1976, when a book of the same name was published by Dr. Roger Linn. The book basically promised rapid weight loss, based on a very low calorie diet of liquid proteins full of collagen. Dieters were only allowed to consume the drink, which contained fewer than 400 calories per serving, basically making it a starvation diet. The plan also included no exercise.
Disgustingly enough, the collagen in these drinks was made from the hooves and hides of animals from the slaughterhouse. Sadly enough, there were 60 sudden deaths that were reported of Last Chance Dieters.
1. The Tapeworm Diet
Perhaps the craziest, and definitely one of the grossest extreme diets around, has to be the Tapeworm Diet. What it entailed was, people knowingly infected themselves with a tapeworm parasite in hopes that it would absorb all of the calories that were ingested, thereby losing weight or remaining thin. Notorious waif supermodel of the 1960s, Twiggy, was rumored to have an intentional tapeworm, which was defended as being safe since when you reach your desired weight, you could just take an antibiotic to kill off the tapeworm. However, what defenders forgot to mention was that the tapeworm could kill you first.