The things we do for love(handles)

Oh, boy. 🙂 This topic is going to be fun.

A while back, I remember reading some funny article called the “ALL DONUT DIET” (yes, in all caps). Can you guess the punch line? Those undertaking the donut diet pledge to eat only donuts for thirty days.

“Discovered” by “doctors at the University of Miami”, The diet is backed by an interesting premise: if one eats nothing but donuts for a month, they will get sick of donuts and under-eat during that month, creating a caloric deficit. Furthermore, after the month is over, they would never want to look at another donut again.

Don’t believe me? Just listen to this testimonial from the diet’s fictional creator:

“‘Donuts are the perfect diet food,’ said Dr. Moses. ‘They’re almost 65% air, which means there low in calories and won’t clog your arteries. They contain sugar, flour, and oil – all of which come from vegetables products.’

‘They’re essentially a well-balanced meal in the shape of tasty, deep-fried circle,’ added Dr. Moses” (Smitts, “ALL DONUT DIET”).

So, to pay tribute to the donut diet, I’d like to rattle off my personal list of the 10 craziest real diets.

(Today’s comedy brought to you courtesy of this old blog, where I managed to dredge up the “ALL DONUT DIET” article.)

10. The Tapeworm Diet

This is the lowest item on the list because it can help you lose weight, and has actually been advised at multiple points throughout history. Still, this is the only item on the list that actually suggests infesting yourself with a dangerous parasite. Tapeworms have been used for hundreds of years to slim down. The parasites can grow up to three feet(!) long and dwell in the intestines, munching on your leftovers. While it is technically true that a tapeworm can help you lose weight, tapeworms can also spread throughout the body, going on to infest more than just your intestines.

Honestly, the weight loss probably isn’t worth it in this case.

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9. The Baby Food Diet

Another diet a little farther down on the crazy scale. Scores of Hollywood celebrities have embraced the Baby Food Diet, pointing out that baby food comes in healthy varieties such as split pea and banana. The reason this diet is so far down the list is that dietitians do admit that baby food contains healthy vitamins and comes in multiple varieties. So, yes, eating baby food will keep you healthy. After all, baby food is made to sustain humans, albeit smaller humans.

The only advantage to eating baby food comes in the way it’s packaged. Eating out of smaller containers has been shown to help people eat less: portion control is a great way to start on the road to weight loss. An issue with the baby food diet is that liquid and puréed foods may not satisfy the appetite as well as a solid foods, leading the dieter to eat more later (or worse, binge).

Because this diet can be replaced with a small tupperware container, I’m going to say that subjecting oneself to endless Gerber is not the ideal adult diet. Still, it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

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8. The Cigarette Diet

Interested in trading one health issue for another?

We all now know that cigarettes cause a host of health-related issues, many of which are life-threatening, but did you know that cigarettes were once widely marketed as a weight loss supplement? “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet” was the slogan touted by the Lucky Strike Cigarette Company in the 1920s to take advantage of the appetite-curbing properties of nicotine. This ‘diet’ is still in use today, though its popularity has declined since cigarettes became colloquially synonymous with cancer. Not exactly what you want from a diet plan.

You would be hard pressed to find a dietitian who would recommend taking a cigarette with every meal. Next!

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7. The Werewolf Diet

This is also known as the Moon Diet, but that’s less fun. Honestly, the name is half of the reason the diet made it so high up on this list, and 100% of the reason for which I would ever try it. “Sorry, I can’t go out to dinner. I’m on the werewolf diet.” Just being able to say that would make this entire diet worth it.

Or it might, if the diet itself weren’t so complicated. It advocates eating different foods corresponding to the cycle of the moon, and fasting for the duration of the full moon. The idea is that the moon’s gravitational exertion on the tides should exert a similar force on the watery makeup of your body, helping you detoxify, or… you know, I’m not sure. But the werewolf diet! That’s cool enough that I don’t care.

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6. Fletcherizing

“Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.”
– Horace Fletcher, the man, the legend

Born in 1849 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Horace “The Great Masticator” Fletcher strongly preached the dominance of the denticle. He believed that you could chew your way to health by following his special technique: chew your food. A lot. No, more.

He was famous for coming up with elaborate justifications for his belief that food – including liquids – had to be chewed thoroughly in order to mix properly with the mouth’s saliva. He also believed that food should not be consumed while angry or sad (which is a problem, because 90% of the food I consume is eaten while I’m angry or sad).

Most of the sources I encountered disagreed on how exactly to follow Fletcher’s advice. claims that you must chew each piece of food 32 times (once for each tooth) and then not swallow it. Wikipedia claims that the food must be chewed 100 times per minute before being swallowed. The Listverse version of Fletcherizing claims that the head must be tilted forward while chewing, and afterward, the head should be tilted back to allow the food to slide down the throat. Most sources agreed with the WeightLossForAll version of Fletcherizing, but at least everyone could agree that it is extremely silly by all accounts.

Fletcher died a millionaire due to the popularity of his diet.

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5. Ear Stapling

Oh God, please don’t do this.

Ear Stapling entails piercing the cartilage of the ear – ouch – with small staples that will remain in place for weeks or months. The staples allegedly poke at a pressure point in the ear that controls appetite, helping participants of this ‘diet’ control their cravings. Not only has this not been proven to be effective, the risk of infection makes this ‘diet’ dangerous, especially when performed by a less-skilled practitioner.

Let’s be honest: it will probably be very difficult to find a skilled ear stapler. I repeat: please don’t do this.

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4. The Cotton Ball Diet

This strange diet arose in the modeling industry, where the thin covergirls would consume cotton balls soaked in juice to feel full without taking in calories. Not only do cotton balls contain few calories, they contain no useful nutrients, and are in fact indigestible by the human body, leading to various health complications such as intestinal obstructions and malnutrition. To make matters worse, many cotton balls are treated with bleach and other chemicals since they’re, you know, not meant to be eaten.

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3. The Vision Diet

What could be less appealing than a tasty bowl of pasta? A tasty bowl of blue pasta.

Participants of the Vision Diet wear blue- or green-tinted glasses while eating in order to make their food appear less appetizing and, as a result, eat less of it. The creator noticed that red and yellow foods appear appetizing (which may be why so may fast food logos incorporate these colors), so blue-tinting foods could hopefully make them appear less tasty and make dieters less likely to engorge themselves. Unfortunately, testing of this diet has revealed no change in the amount participants wearing the glasses will eat.

Interestingly enough, there is a vision-related diet that does help dieters eat up to 10% less. Reportedly, dieters wearing special augmented reality glasses that make their food appear larger will eat less food, and dieters wearing glasses that make their food appear smaller will eat up to 15% more.

Unfortunately, only the first pair of glasses is actually on the market.

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2. Breatharianism

The easiest way to lose weight is to eat nothing. Just ask Tom Hanks in Castaway!

Breatharianism is the belief that humans can subsist off of sunlight and prana. While some Breatharians recognize prana as the force of life in Hinduism, some believe that the major source of prana is generated by an immense invisible spaceship hovering over North America.

This diet has become notable for the number of deaths of its practitioners by dehydration, starvation, and malnutrition. According to the RationalWiki article on Breatharianism, “anyone claiming to live on light and/or air alone is most certainly lying. In 1983, most of the leadership of the movement in California resigned when Wiley Brooks, a notable proponent of breatharianism, was caught sneaking into a hotel and ordering a chicken pie. Under controlled conditions where people are actually watched to see if they can do it without sneaking some real food, they fail.”

Don’t invest your time in impossible diets. Hey, speaking of impossible diets…

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1. The Slimming Soap Diet

This diet makes the top of the list for being both ludicrous and exploitative. Yes, a soap was actually marketed as a ‘slimming soap’: that is, as a soap that will make you slimmer if you wash with it. Fat sits right under the skin, so slimming soap could ideally penetrate through skin and smooth you down from the outside in. This would be much easier than the inconvenient alternative: eating well and exercising.

You can’t make this stuff up!

Well, that’s obviously not true, considering someone fabricated this entire diet trend. Believe it or not, it actually caught on, and it’s still in use today. I’m sure you’ve heard of anti-cellulite cream.

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So there you have it, my list of the top 12 least effective, arguably silly diet trends that people have actually used in hopes to shave off weight.


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