With your January resolutions poisoned to sticky death by a week of post-exam sin and a sugar fuelled fortnight of university, let Lifestyle editor Robert Firth rejuvenate you, by looking at some of the more bizarre regimes you may have been following.
The Seven Day Colour Food Diet/Seven Colours of Health Diet
Who: Generally attributed to Dr. David Heber, and then appropriated by artist Mindy Weisel for her book The 7-Day Color Diet in 2003.
What it claims: Following the diet should allow you to lose weight and improve your complexion. A diet lacking in the different colours of fruit and vegetables can cause you to miss out on vital phytonutrients. A lack of these can allegedly leave you vulnerable to obesity related illnesses including heart disease and cancer.
What you do: Devote each day of the week to a specific colour. You can only eat fruit and veg of that specific colour on that particular day, e.g. yellow on Tuesdays. Each colour family contains special phytonutrients such as the anthoxanthins found in white fruit and veg (bananas, onions, cauliflower), which supposedly reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. All very clever until you realise that ‘phyto’ is just Greek for plants, so all we’re on about here is plant nutrients.
What actually happens: You end up eating in the same as you would if you were following a healthy balanced diet, but make it unnecessarily difficult for yourself, the horror if you have a strawberry on Tuesdays!
Juice Diet/Juice Fasting
Who: Has been around for a while now and multiple companies have squeezed as much money as possible from the idea by developing their own concentrated super juice fortified with nutrients and vitamins to make you even healthier.
What it claims: Juicemaster.com, a website which fulfils every conceivable juicing need of yours including juice recipe books, blenders, even juice retreats in Turkey, promises a 7lb weight loss in seven days with its juice detox. You’ll also have higher energy levels, clearer skin and be freed from the dieting trap forever. Fans even deny that it is a real diet, preferring to call it a ‘reboot’.
What you do: Stop eating and just drink juice for a period of time lasting from as little as a few days to a few weeks.
What actually happens: Unless you’re juicing meat as well, fruit and vegetable juices lack essential nutrients including calcium, protein and iron. You’ll also probably end up taking laxatives to replace the non-existent fibre in fruit juices, not to mention the issue of salt deficiency and your teeth liquidizing in all that sugar which is going to turn into calories.
The Maple Syrup Diet/The Lemon Detox
Not quite true, although she is responsible for its explosion in popularity. Originally started around thirty years ago by a guy called Stanley Burroughs with the magic ingredient of Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup (made from sap of maple and palm trees).
What it says: The reason you’re not losing weight is that normal diets involve eating (duh). You just need to drink maple syrup (along with some water and seasonings), as anybody who has ever downed a souvenir bottle of maple syrup will tell you. Beyoncé lost 1 and a half stone in two weeks on the diet for her movie Dreamgirls, not surprising when you consider that nine glasses contains under 500 calories, around a quarter of your RDA.
What you do: Mix maple syrup with lemon juice, warm water and cayenne pepper. Six to nine glasses a day should be enough yet beginners should stick to it for five to seven days: less is always more with this irresistible tasting concoction.
What actually happens: Like my housemate (a recent convert to the fad) you’ll start waltzing around with pre-made plastic beakers full of peppery liquid and scream at your housemates after your high intensity YouTube workout, because someone dared borrow a drop or two of your sacred maple syrup. Yet that’s completely understandable since you’ll be left hungry, irritable and tired from being deficient in essential nutrients. Also, Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup sees an extraordinary sales increase from 500 tins a year to 2000 a month.
Cotton Ball Diet
Who? Uncertain. Believed to originate with models wanting to stay thin.
What it says: Food is a necessary evil and juices are packed with sugar. Replace all those hideously calorific meals with cotton balls—cheap, tasty and calorie free.
What you do: Consume up to five cotton balls in one sitting (no more, don’t be greedy!) and you’ll feel full without the fat.
What actually happens: You’re eating bleached polyester pieces of cotton—not healthy. Would you eat your tie dyed t-shirt from two summers ago? Never mind malnutrition (there’s none of them super phytonutrients in cotton). You also risk choking to death and potential obstruction to the intestinal tract through the build-up of cotton balls.
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