Recently, Kirstie Clements, the former editor of Vogue, revealed in her book some shocking secrets about the modelling world, including how models undertook crazy ways of weight loss. The most bizzare of them was about models eating tissue paper to kill hunger pangs and thereby staying in shape! The tissues apparently swelled in the stomach and made one feel full. Well, it can’t get crazier, can it? If that’s what you think, then get set for some more surprises.
From injecting tapeworms in the stomach to staying on sedatives in order to curb binging, and even being on drips for months — there is a host of bizarre weight-loss formulas that people opt for. “In simple words, a diet plan that’s not balanced, i.e. does not contain the required amount of nutrients for the normal functions of the body, is a bizarre diet. There is nothing healthy about these diets and can often be life-threatening,” says clinical nutritionist Sandhya Pandey of Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon.
The maker’s diet
The Maker’s Diet is based on the idea that certain foods are either forbidden or unacceptable to God. The forbidden foods of this diet include meats such as pork, bacon, ostrich, ham, sausages, emu and imitation meat, fish and sea foods, such as fried fish, breaded fish, eel, shark, crab, clams, oyster, mussels, lobster, shrimp, scallops, and craw fish. Even rooted vegetables such as potato, onion, beetroot, carrot, ginger and garlic is prohibited in this diet.
Side effects: There is immense protein and omega 3 fatty acid deficiency in the body that results into low BP and weakness. Carbs also go missing, as most rooted veggies are prohibited.
Rasberry supplement diet
This is being promoted by many shows in the US as a fat burning supplement that prevents weight gain. “It is true that raspberry ketones did alter fat metabolism in very high doses in lab animals. However, it seems unlikely that the same effects will translate for humans without causing any harm,” says nutritionist Neelanjana Singh of PSRI Hospital.
Side effects: The stimulants in raspberry ketones cause a sudden increase of blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and jitteriness.
You’d have heard of the Cabbage Soup Diet, Grapefruit diet and the Hollywood Cookie diet. In all these diets, only one food item is allowed during the plan, and this food replaces all the other food groups. There is bound to be rapid weight loss, but this happens at the cost of precipitating nutrient deficiencies.
Side effects: Well, firstly, it’s boring and there is an increased risk of other medical problems such as ketosis. “Often, the person following such a diet is left overtly hungry at the end of the day. Providing a very low input of 600 calories, as happens in such a diet, is not medically acceptable. Cutting calories below 1000 a day is not an appropriate method of losing weight,” says Singh.
Low-Carbdiets less than 100g/day
A Low Carbohydrate Diet recommends a high intake of fat or protein but a very low or no intake of carbohydrates. These diets are popular because a rapid weight loss occurs right away. In this diet, instead of using carbohydrates as the energy source, fats from foods and fats stored in the body are used for energy.
Side effects: The body needs carbohydrates to completely oxidise the fat. “The short supply of carbohydrate causes the fat to break down incompletely, forming ketone bodies. When the body produces more ketones than the kidneys can get rid of, ketones accumulate in the blood, causing ketosis that leads to weakness and poor stamina,” says dietician Komal Malik of Columbia Asia Hospital.
Brides-to-be seem to be in love with this diet. In fact, Kate Middelton, the Princess of Wales, reportedly undertook this diet plan before the royal wedding. It is a high protein diet, but is more liberal in terms of its carbohydrate content. In this diet, there is an attack phase, which lasts for one week, and allows consumption of lean meat (egg whites), low fat dairy products and oat bran. In the next stage, which is the cruise phase of this diet, one non-starchy vegetable is added to the allowed food list.
Side effects: This diet tends to raise cholesterol levels, and increase the chances of suffering from gout — an acute form of inflammatory arthritis.
Fruitarianism is again one of those extreme measure diets whereby nothing but fruit — 75% raw fruit by weight, is consumed. It has been found that people followed a fruit-only diet from time to time, but eventually gave it up due to it being unsustainable.
Side effects: A fruitarian diet can cause deficiencies in calcium, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin D, most B vitamins (especially B-12), and essential fatty acids. The food restrictions in general may lead to hunger, cravings, food obsessions, social disruptions and social isolation.
The craziest measures that people opt for to stay thin
It’s hard to believe that some people would rather risk their lives than go to the gym, work out or eat a salad now and then. Yes, there are people who believe that purposely ingesting a tapeworm will allow them to eat whatever they want and still lose weight. They believe that the tapeworm will ingest their food and save them from gaining the weight.
Side effects: A tapeworm is a parasite and it can cause a whole host of problems. “It will eat some of the food, but it will also take your vital nutrients. The parasite could cause diarrhoea, nausea, and bloating; the tapeworm could reproduce and spread throughout your system causing seizures or meningitis,” says Malik.
Liquid formula diets
The liquid formula diets are supposed to supply all nutrients needed at a controlled calorie level, usually around 400 calories like Liquid Formula Preparations — orally or even through drips.
Side effects: Depletion of lean body tissues, fluids, mineral, and vitamin supplies. Side effects commonly seen include anaemia, kidney stones and gout, as well as weakness, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and emotional disturbances.
The sleeping beauty diet
The idea behind this diet is: if you are not awake, you will not eat. Therefore, it calls for taking heavy sedatives and sleeping for days at a time in order to curb the urge to eat, and thereby lose weight. The diet was reportedly popular with singer Elvis Presley who was finding it difficult to bend down and tie up his blue suede shoes, and hence opted for this diet to lose weight.
Side effects: One does lose weight initially, but it is one of the unhealthiest approaches to weight loss, leave alone the harmful effects of sedatives.
Well, in this diet, you eat NOTHING! You basically survive on your breath. Practitioners believe that they are sustained by energy from the Sun and the vital life force called prana. The Breatharian Institute of America promotes this diet. Occasionally one gets to eat a cheeseburger or a diet coke claiming that consuming them once in a while adds balance.
Side effects: No prize for guessing — you lose weight, and you die! In fact, people have been reported dead whilst they were on this diet.
Spot the early signs of an eating disorder
Being aware of the fact that you are going overboard with your weight-loss programme is important to nip the obsession in the bud, say doctors. “These are more of a psychological disorder than an eating disorder, and the biggest responsibility to correct this lies in the hands of the family members,” says clinical psychologist Dr Poojashivam Jaitley of Moolchand Medcity. “When people don’t eat well, it affects their mind as well... they become jittery and there are frequent mood swings. Family members will have to spot these signs and make the person aware that it’s really not the best way to stay in shape,” adds Dr Jaitley. Most importantly, if weight issues are becoming a cause of depression, then the family must talk more about the talents of individuals instead of always discussing about weight issues. Meanwhile, they should seek an expert help to initiate a healthy way to stay in shape.
Some weird diets that celebs follow
For her role in Dreamgirls, singer Beyoncé opted for a Maple Syrup Diet to shed weight. It involved surviving solely on the detox drink for 10 days. The drink is made by mixing Natural Tree Syrup (i.e. maple syrup) with lemon juice, cayenne pepper or ginger in water.
2. Liz Hurley
Actor Liz Hurley goes for a Kid’s Cutlery diet. She feels that eating on a nursery plate using Kids’s Cutlery is a great way of reducing food intake, as it tricks her into thinking she’s eating more than she really is.
3. Demi Moore
Actor Demi Moore swears by the Raw Food Diet, whereby she consumes everything raw — even raw meat!