Junkfood Science: December Diet Wackiness

December 30, 2006

December Diet Wackiness

We were inundated by diets this month — and it’s not even January! Some diets were variations on oldies, others took eccentricity and whimsy to entirely new dimensions. But they all demonstrated what Shmuley Boteach wrote in the Jerusalem Post:

If you want to make a quick buck, just pen a book about a new diet you’ve conjured up, give it a sexy name and presto, you’ll be an instant millionaire. No previous writing experience needed. You might try and call it something like The Emaciated Scarecrow Look or Thin is In. Better still, name-associate the book with something really chic like The Rodeo Drive Diet or The Fifth Avenue Starvation Plan and you'll be retiring in six months. [Maybe, that’s my mistake. :)]

The Compliment Diet is a creative plan that directs husbands to give their wives a daily compliment telling her how slim and beautiful she is (being sure to turn off the TV first). Within weeks, it promises, women who’ve been “letting themselves go,” or compensating for lack of affection by eating, will start working out and go on a diet.

The SOS Desperation Diet promises you’ll lose a dress size in a week, just in time for your holiday party. It also promises better skin and sparkly eyes, that you’ll feel more energetic, “and all the things you want when you are going to a party.” It assures prospective customers that it was devised by a naturopath so “it’s perfectly safe...and has been very carefully thought out.” It’s secret is “just good, healthy food, a little light exercise and some herbal tonics to help kick-start your metabolism and flush out any toxins.”

The Wine Diet is not about drinking any old wine, it’s about being selective and choosing wines from older vines grown at high altitudes which are claimed to have more beneficial compounds. The idea is to combine wine with a “healthy lifestyle” and a 1400-calorie diet which includes wine, dark chocolate and fruit.

The Nasal Spray Diet promises to treat obesity by eliminating the sense of smell and taste. The company already has a patent on its nasal spray which they say works to reduce food intake. This is called a “forward looking statement.” Don’t look for their spray until 2010, as clinical trials won’t begin until 2007 and then it has to get FDA approval. But the developer expects to raise $50 million with an initial public stock offering.

The George Orwell Diet describes “newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime and now, coming to a city near you, dietcontrol where the ‘thought police’ decide your every move and your diet.” The idea is to ban foods that Big Brother of Oceania thinks might be fattening or bad for you. This diet is for people who “believe government is looking out for our good.”

The All-Beer Diet is essentially a low-carb diet geared for guys who drink beer. For “real,” there’s a book. The author says he did his own research for 25 years of trial and error, losing and gaining back 593 pounds, and says he now has “conclusive proof” of what worked to lose 114 pounds.

The Hypnosis Diet promises to teach you a simple hypnotic technique that will eliminate cravings for “junk” foods and make you exercise more.

The Beauty and the Beast Diet claims that Candida yeast causes cravings for sugar and starch, depletes your body of nutrients and releases toxins that make you fat. It offers a yeast test and promises that with anti-fungals and natural supplements, you too can lose 180 pounds, 125 without exercise. This diet isn’t new, as beliefs of yeast-related sensitivities, allergies and health problems have been around for years, along with that candida questionnaire.

The Master Cleanse Diet is so risky and ridiculous I hesitate to even describe it. By living for ten or more days on nothing but a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water — up to 12 glasses a day — along with salt water in the morning and laxatives in the evening, it says you’ll wake up thinner and no longer grumpy. This 650-calorie diet actually isn’t new and was created in the 1940s but given new life recently on the Oprah Show. The Internet is filled with claims it fights disease, clears the mind and skin, and increases energy. Dieters are warned that it’s best to stay close to a restroom.

The Oomph Diet includes an online “Rollover Calories” tool to help dieters track their unused calories throughout the week, sort of like rolling over minutes on your phone service. It’s for calorie theory believers only.

The Diet Detective’s Count Down Diet is another one for calorie theory believers who think calories are like money and can be balanced like a checkbook. It lists 7500 foods and tells what will be needed to burn the calories in those foods.

The Ultimate Sex Diet is also along those lines, promoting weight loss through “sexercise,” since it says that a half-hour romp under the sheets burns the same number of calories as a 30-minute brisk walk.

The Idiot Proof Diet promotes itself as a revolutionary web-based diet that computes everything for a dieter in seconds and “creates a personal daily menu that ensures ideal calorie shifting” to guarantee weight loss. Its guiding principle is that people are fat because they eat the wrong foods, the wrong types of calories and at the wrong times of the day. Its solution is a new “shifting calories theory” that promises by constantly shifting from one type of calorie to another, the scales will keep dropping.

The Skinny Me with Green Tea Diet creator claims that by simply drinking green tea and eating a “healthy, whole food diet” she lost 170 pounds in about a year. Her secrets include eliminating processed foods, pastas, breads, meats, fried foods and drinking lots of water. She sells an assortment of weight loss products, including a special cream she claims eliminates stretch marks and wrinkles, and a greener green tea (Uji Gyokuro “Gyoku-Hou”).

The Grapefruit Diet which prescribes a grapefruit before every meal to lose weight is still going strong after 40 years. The most amazing thing about this diet’s longevity is that its mythology continues to be believed, even by registered dietitians, and that they are actually getting funding for research.

The Purina Diet is the funniest diet circulating the internet this month. It is well worth a read! Believe it or not. :)

But there is one wacky diet that so many people are being taken in by, and believe is credible and scientific, that it has become the subject of a major ethical inquiry. We’ll reveal that tomorrow in “The newest diet ‘science.’”

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