The word “diet” is one of modern culture’s most loaded terms. Everyone has one, whether strict vegan or Supersized, yet it’s nearly always associated with pain, sacrifice and the fear of replacing delicious things with food that appears to be made from chalk and hippy nightmares.
Here at Fit, we try to take an intelligent approach – eat whole foods, raw vegetables, animals that lived happy lives, or at least limit the amount of food that comes with a paper crown. While we attempt to be open-minded, hopefully we can all agree that anything taken to an extreme is, well, extreme. It’s all about perspective.
And holy, sweet, sweet cannoli are there some strange-ass diets out there. Your friend who told you he could survive on nothing but double-meat pizza? That’s reasonable nutritional theory compared to some of the gibberish we uncovered. Find something stranger and I’ll eat my words, though even forcing magazine pages down my throat would be better than consuming ground-up cattle horns. Yep, people did that.
Fletcherism At the turn of the 20th century, Horace Fletcher, aka “The Great Masticator,” advocated for a diet in which participants chewed their food, shall we say, rigorously. This visionary recommended chomping each mouthful between 32 times and more than 100, including liquids, then spitting out the sludge. Though excessive, it’s probably the most effective of these diets. Eating slowly has been shown to help with weight loss/weight control, and at least he told people to eat actual food…
The Cotton Ball Diet For instance, this cotton-soft insanity in which some high-profile models allegedly ingest bits of fluff to help them feel full rather than resorting to calories. Sometimes they get decadent and soak the balls in orange juice. No word on whether or not they remove makeup with large slabs of prime rib.
The Tapeworm Diet Fun fact: parasites make you look amazing. Or so you would believe if you were a proponent of the tapeworm diet, parodied brilliantly by Mindy Kaling on The Office a few years back. The tapeworm diet is exactly as simple and terrifying as it sounds – eat a baby tapeworm (called a cyst), and in turn it eats all your food for you. Which is great except eventually you have a three-foot monster living in your intestinal tract. Part diet, part horror movie.
The Prolinn Diet In the 1970s, Robert Linn invented a diet that involved nothing but fasting and drinking his proprietary elixir, Prolinn, which consisted mostly of slaughterhouse byproducts like pulverized cattle horns, hooves and bones. Unless it’s whiskey (and even then be careful), don’t drink things people name after themselves, especially if that thing includes all the ugly bits the butcher throws away.
The Vision Diet Like the inverse of the childhood joke about the “see food” diet, the vision diet claims that the color blue will suppress a person’s appetite, so donning a pair of sunglasses with blue tinted lenses will cause the wearer to shed pounds. An even more effective method would be to dump blue food coloring on everything you cook and eat, thus turning your life into a Dr. Seuss-style adventure but also making you the jerk who ruins entire meals you never had any intention of eating.
The Sleeping Beauty Diet In what has to be the laziest, most luxurious diet ever, this weight-loss program calls for people to undergo heavy sedation for days at a time in order to completely halt calorie intake. To everyone’s complete lack of surprise, Elvis was a big fan of this diet, which he combined with his love of peanut butter-banana-bacon sandwiches to create Fat Elvis. Otherwise it’s a great plan, though nearly indistinguishable from just being an opiate addict.
The Breatharian Diet From the King of Rock and Roll to the King Idiot of Dietland, here comes this merry band of morons, the Breatharians. They believe humans can abstain from water and food and live on only sunlight and air. Until fellow Breatharian and self-proclaimed prophet Wiley Brooks upped the crazy ante by preaching that McDonald’s Double Quarter-Pounders with Cheese and Diet Cokes are fifth-dimensional food items and are therefore safe for consumption. I’m not making that up. He said that. In public. World’s worst dieter? Probably. World’s most corporate-friendly huckster? Most likely.
And that brings us full circle. Compared to tapeworms and cotton balls, cheeseburgers seem pretty healthy, and compared to starving to starving to death on a diet of air, they’re practically kale-encrusted quinoa.