Photo by Dimitrije Tanaskovic via Stocksy
From juicing to cayenne lemonade to classic counting calories, the world is full of dubious fad diets prescribed by experts both real and imagined. But what happens when people strike out on their own, compiling their own dieting plans out of a frothy mixture of stereotypes, something they read in a magazine once, and ingrained parental advice? Broadly spoke to people about the stupidest diets they've ever tried—and whether they worked.
*Names have been changed.
When I was a kid, my mother wanted to make sure that my siblings and me were healthy, so she forced us to drink Carnation Instant Breakfast. But along with being delusional about what constituted a healthy meal, she was also incredibly cheap. Instead of shelling out for the individual bottles, she decided to replicate Carnation Instant Breakfast by pouring Nesquik and a whole raw egg into the blender. Every morning, she handed it to us as we were walking out the door. It tasted fine when you first drank it, but after about 15 minutes, the aftertaste kicked in. It's the most disgusting thing I've ever had to taste.
Read more: People Explain Their Reasons for Cheating
I went to high school in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. We had our own definition of the Master Cleanse: Instead of eating, you smoked cigarettes and snorted cocaine. Everyone called it "The Olsen Twins Diet."
I had a friend who wanted to lose weight and be healthy. Every day during lunch, he went to Wendy's or McDonald's and bought a salad. I didn't have the heart to tell him that those salads have more calories than a Big Mac. I don't think the diet lasted very long.
When I was in high school I tried the South Beach Diet, but I don't think I fully appreciated how the diet worked. I ordered pizza all the time and only ate the greasy cheese off the top. (I tossed the crust in the trash.) I often ate six slices of pizza cheese to get full. It was a sad life, but somehow I did lose a little weight.
When I was in college, I subsisted on a diet that was literally taquitos, jalapeño chips, and Slurpees. One day, I decided to cut out all carbs, caffeine, and fried foods. It's not a weird diet, but after four hours, I pitched a screaming fit because I felt "hungry and tired." To calm myself down, I made myself a giant bowl of pasta. I was unable to keep a diet longer than the time between regular meals.
My mom is Middle Eastern and fairly confused about nutrition. We went to a nutritionist in a town that was far away, and my mother swore that my sister was eating a healthy diet at home, but she couldn't figure out how why my sister wasn't losing weight. After every nutrition appointment, my mom would take us to the Lebanese grocer to eat a bag of fried meat pies. She justified this by saying it was the closest Middle Eastern grocery store to our house. As for her own diet, whenever she wanted to lose weight, my mom would only eat mujaddara, Lebanese lentils and rice, for lunch and dinner. I don't think it ever gave her results.
In college I had morning class with a guy who was beanpole skinny. Halfway through the year, he started bringing in a tiny jar of baby food that he'd eat with a spoon. He claimed that he was "cheating the system" and it was a cheap way to get nutrition (trust me, this guy did not need to save money), but he just looked like a giant baby. I think he ate baby food less as a diet and more for attention, but either way he choked it down every day.
*Names have been changed.