Dangerous diets

Danger Diets: crash and burn gimmicks to lose a few pounds

Aug 4 • BEAUTY/HEALTH • 18275 Views • 2 Comments

Dangerous dietsIt’s unfortunate that our society today places so much emphasis on thinness, rather than healthiness.  This type of perspective can create a lifestyle that encourages weight loss, however, the weight is lost in a way that is just really unhealthy. We are being tricked into believing we’re being healthy, because we’re losing the weight, when really the way we’re losing the weight is just as unhealthy as if we’d just gone to our local fast-food joint for a burger and fries.

These unhealthy diets, also known as “crash diets” are often promoted by celebrities, fashion magazines, and entertainment news broadcasters.  We buy into them because of our societies’ obsession with celebrity.  Yet, what we seem to consistently forget, is that these celebrities usually only do these diets because they need to for a role or other performance and when they’re not doing a short-term crash diet, they have professional chefs and personal trainers working with them constantly.  Here’s a list of some popular but unhealthy celebrity diets and why you should avoid them:

The Master Cleanse

Beyoncé apparently followed this diet of water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and lemon juice, and lost 20 pounds in two weeks.  A healthy rate of weight-loss is one to two pounds per week.  On the Master Cleanse, you’re supposed to consume this drink 6 to 12 times a day  and perform salt-water and herbal laxative expulsions twice a day. Not only are you depriving yourself of many necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins and fatty acids required to make your body and mind function at their peak, but you’re also flushing your internal organs with salt water, stripping them of important bacteria and moisture.

Of course you’ll lose weight on this diet – you’re starving yourself and flushing anything that resembles food or life from your system.  You may also cause your body to break down muscle for energy, you may suffer from light-headedness or faint, and it puts undue stress on your heart and other internal organs.

 Cabbage Soup Diet

The cabbage soup diet was developed by doctors for morbidly obese people who needed to lose a significant amount of weight before going in for gastric-bypass surgery.  It was not developed as a means to a healthy lifestyle.  It doesn’t include any lifestyle changes or exercise suggestions and it depends on a strict adherence to a watery soup made up of (you guessed it) cabbage, as well as onions, tomatoes and other low calorie foods.  And you’re restricted to doing this diet for one week at a time.  Doesn’t that say something about the diet right there?  If it’s not sustainable, it’s probably not worth your time.

Skip the boredom of living on cabbage and cranberry juice for a week and just make the shift to a healthy lifestyle instead.

Grapefruit Diet

This diet is based on the super-powers of the humble grapefruit to combat those nasty fat deposits that you want to get rid of.  Just eat half of a grapefruit before every meal and the pounds will begin to fall off.  Does this sound too good to be true?  That’s because it is.  The catch is that your post-grapefruit meals need to add up to 800 calories or less (Canada’s Food Guide recommends a daily caloric intake of 2000 calories, for an active adult).

Any diet that requires you to cut your calorie intake by more than 500 calories can rob your body of the energy it needs to operate normally, leaving you irritable, light-headed and drowsy, which can cause you to have cravings that will sabotage your intended weight loss.

Macrobiotic Diet

The Macrobiotic diet is the diet of choice of music, production and film powerhouse, Madonna.   While this diet sounds pretty healthy, focusing on a diet of whole grains, raw and cooked vegetables, beans and miso soup, it also lacks in protein, iron and calcium.  This can leave you with decreased energy levels, pale skin and more serious problems, like anemia, which is caused by a dangerously low level of life-sustaining iron in the blood.

Juice Diet

Gwyneth Paltrow is said to have followed the Juice Diet for three weeks to cleanse and detoxify her body and to lose a few extra pounds (though from looking at her, I can’t tell where she would lose them from).  To follow the juice diet you essentially have to do exactly what it sounds like: drink juice for three weeks straight.  Like the other restrictive diets outlined above, you’re withholding much of the essentials required by your body to perform your daily tasks.  By not consuming your daily required amounts of complex carbohydrates, proteins, dairy, iron, and other vitamins and minerals, you’re starving your body and your mind.

Not to mention, doesn’t it seem a little unnatural to go three weeks without chewing anything?

Cookie Diet

All I should need to say here is “oxymoron”.  If you think you can lose weight in a healthy way by eating Kim Kardashian’s cookies everyday, then I’m sorry but you’ve been fooled.  By submitting yourself to this so-called diet, you replace each full meal with two low-calorie cookies (800 calories total).  Again, this is just another gimmicky diet plan that avoids any real behavioural or lifestyle changes, giving the perception that weight loss can be achieved simply by eating cookies.  Come on; just use your common sense on this one, please.

There is no “easy way” of losing weight; it takes hard work, dedication, will-power and self-preservation.  Our society is fixated on the quick and easy.  And where has that led us?  It’s led us to a lifestyle of super quick, nutrient-deprived junk foods and to socially deprived individuals.  It’s true, the saying “everything in moderation except for moderation.”  Depriving our bodies of nutrients, minerals and other essentials like amino acids and omega-3’s is just as unhealthy as pumping them full of sodium, cholesterol, trans fats, and processed starches and sugars.

Honestly, why do you think those diets got the name “crash” diets?  It’s because when you do one, your system actually crashes and when you start eating real food again, your body automatically stores what you consume as fat because you’ve convinced your body that it’s starving and needs to store any calories you take in for this primal emergency.

Scientific research suggests that unhealthy diets, both those that restrict your consumption and deny you of essential vitamins and minerals and diets that include too much fat-, sugar-, and salt-ridden foods, may be linked to depression and anxiety disorders in women.  The same research indicated that, in contrast, women who consume a variety of healthy foods showed no such association.[i]

The key to a healthy body and mind is a holistic diet and adequate exercise.  The easiest way to do this is to follow Canada’s Food Guide[ii] and do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.  Eat more whole grains, more complex proteins (not necessarily meat, but alternatives as well), avoid added sugar, especially of the refined variety and get more than your fill of a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Go for a walk or run, do yoga or pilates, take a Zumba class, go skating, or run around with your kids.  By embodying a healthy lifestyle, you’ll notice positive changes that will stick for good and you’ll set a great example for your friends and family.


[i] Daily Mail Report: Mail Online. Unhealthy diets could fuel female depression. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1243125/Unhealthy-diets-fuel-female-depression.html (Accessed March 1, 2011)

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