Poll: What's the Worst Diet Advice You Ever Heard?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  657 comments   :  80,088 Views

We subscribe to a half-dozen health and fitness magazines, and most of the editors here receive daily and weekly email newsletters from dozens of healthy living sites. We walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to health.

Whether it's celebrity interviews and workout secrets or the latest health news, we love finding stories to share with you.

Sometimes though, we're surprised by what we read. There's some plain old bad advice out there! Some of what we read really makes us want to scream!

The worst I've seen lately: Eat frozen peas and corn for a tasty, fiber-filled snack. I won't name names, but a popular magazine suggested that eating frozen veggies was a way to satisfy a craving. For what? Who craves frozen vegetables--still frozen?

They said: "The high-fiber and low-calorie-density combination means they're filling and satisfying, and the frozen part makes them interesting. They're firm, but not rock hard, and they melt in your mouth. "

Seems a little odd to me. Now I want to know: What's the worst diet advice you've ever heard?

Let's not incriminate the guilty parties, but share the details. Was it a magazine, a doctor, a friend? Did you hear about it on TV, read it in the newspaper, or find it on a blog? Dish the dirt on dumb diet directions!

Share yours in the comments below. Here's another one: A famous trainer once said that women should never lift anything heavier than three pounds--even though she said her client's main workout was lifting her baby (who weighed much more than that)!

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See More: weight loss, poll,
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
NEXT ENTRY >   Motivated to Move: Exercise to Feel Alive


  • 607
    I've recently started bringing a week's worth of fruit with me to work on Mondays, and gradually eating my 5/day throughout the week. One of my coworkers noticed how many clementines I had on my shelf and proceeded to lecture me on "the dangers of eating too many oranges (and other citrus)". She said they made her break out in welts. Even if I ate a whole bag of clementines (which I have done over the space of 3 days), I don't have that reaction...which means she's probably allergic to citrus and should avoid it anyway. Of course I ignored pretty much every word she said. - 9/23/2014   1:17:10 PM
  • 606
    Ok, so I know that indiscriminately and blindly noshing on frozen peas or corn without abandon can be as bad as chips if not measuring out a portion first, but really? We are going to fail to mention this fact in the article?? Really? Substituting frozen veggies as a snack instead of chips or sweets is smart diet advice in my book as long as it is in moderation... like anything else.

    My craziest diet advice was a diet plan that I was on that a coworker had me do. It was through a "center" and it was a super low carb diet that was crazy restrictive in which you went into ketosis and had to pee on a stick, drink a gallon of water a day, and get a B vitamin shot twice weekly. I lost like 60# in 3 months but it was horrid. The diuretic component in the shots gave me horrid leg cramps, possibly are why I now have a heart murmur years later, and when I gained the weight back it came back in spades.

    I also am constantly annoyed when people ask me how I am currently losing weight (by healthy clean eating in moderation and counting calories, I also can't eat FODMAPs and am severely lactose intolerant) and when I give them the brief rundown of my moderate plan, they have to tell me what I am doing wrong, then tell me what they are doing and how I have to do it like them. While everyone has their own tips and tricks, some people have horrible diets! as a CNA and nursing student, I am fully versed on basic nutrition and know that eating only lettuce and only 20 grams protein a day is not healthy (or similar crazy plans). While I respect others diet advice and know that I just have to smile and nod, when I am asked to explain mine (and keep it short and sweet at first) why can't others learn to just smile and nod in return and understand that I did not ask for their advice and that if I am losing 3-5 pounds a week, I must not be in need of tips??? lol. - 9/21/2014   5:01:04 PM
  • 605
    Cabbage soup diet! suggested by a friend, who received the diet from her doctor. - 9/21/2014   3:02:47 PM
  • 604
    I had a manager once, a very thin man, who told all of the girls who worked for him, very loudly, that the best way to keep "skinny" (his word for optimal fitness) was to eat only once per day. He says, "You can eat whatever you want, but only once per day." His normal diet: A Supersized McMeal on his way to work. - 8/21/2014   3:12:29 PM
    Eat. 1,000 calories a day--or less - 8/7/2014   6:32:26 AM
    Worst diet advice I've heard was all from an in-law. My husband is slowly getting back to a healthy weight and one of the things he's doing is he stopped drinking sodas. Instead he drinks sparkling water. One of his relatives told him to stop drinking sparkling water and unsweetened tea and drink diet sodas. Because "It says diet so that means it make you lose weight faster"
    Other advice from this genius includes "Skinny french fries aren't fattening" and that the 'right' kinds of exercise can make a 30 year old man grow taller. Not look taller, but actually grow taller. And that hypoglycemia can be cured by fasting. Seriously scary, bad, advice. - 8/5/2014   9:18:55 PM
    I was scoffed at by a physician when I stated I ran a half marathon. "You're only doing a half?" Like it wasn't an accomplishment in itself. Granted, I have run full marathon's before, but I was just getting back into running so a half was a major accomplishment! - 8/5/2014   8:30:09 AM
  • 600
    To use laxatives and diuretics - 8/1/2014   4:39:51 PM
  • 599
    My GP told me I would have to choose between controlling my hypoglycemia or losing weight -- that I can't do both! - 8/1/2014   4:31:09 AM
  • 598
    To do a colon cleanse so you can lose weight rapidly...because we are all full of poop - 7/24/2014   2:35:07 PM
  • 597
    I was told not to work out because muscle weighs more than fat and I would in fact gain weight rather than lose it.
    Now that's just plain old crazy! - 7/1/2014   7:34:14 PM
  • 596
    eat less-a doctor who I didnt even go to for a weight issue told me "you need to eat less" I was already only eating one meal a day! then a trainer at the gym told me to graze like a gazelle and not eat just one large meal like a lion - 7/1/2014   4:19:46 PM
  • 595
    To substitute all real foods with fake meal-substitutes. Gosh, that' s one of the worst things you can do to your body. - 7/1/2014   2:39:55 PM
  • 594
    I think the worst advice I ever heard was to cut all carbs (Adkins style). A good diet balances carbs, proteins, and fats. Oh, also that stupid HCG diet. Actually had an athletic trainer try to sell me the drops - crazy! - 7/1/2014   11:53:10 AM
    I went to a weight loss doctor who claimed to be up on all the research. Most of his advice was spot on, except he took me off carbs and put me on two protein shakes a day. The shakes were full of artificial ingredients and the lack of carbs made me constipated. They told me I wasn't drinking enough water (I was saturated in the stuff) and said to take laxatives. I ate plenty of fruits and veggies. I was hungry all the time though and rebounded pretty fast after the first 20 lbs came off. - 7/1/2014   11:33:52 AM
  • 592
    Any diet that severely restricts something- carbs, or fat, or whatever. Or "drink this weird juice that tastes horrible, then eat whatever you want the rest of the day". Yeah, how is a binge going to help someone? - 7/1/2014   3:39:02 AM
  • 591
    For me it was low carb. I can't do that. I get sick, tired and then I eat everything in sight. If I eat carbs normally but cut calories I lose fine and am ok. - 6/30/2014   8:51:16 PM
  • 590
    My Dr.s have always insisted less, less, less. eat less. I started Weight Watchers and tripled my food intake. I have lost 82 lbs so far. So much for less. - 6/30/2014   8:22:13 PM
    Actually, frozen peas are delicious on a hot summer day! My kids used to beg for them and thought they were the best treat! - 6/30/2014   7:58:23 PM
  • 588
    I dunno. I do have a friend that insists you just have to drink 3 gallons of water a day and lift like a bodybuilder (he specified cardio was a 1-2 times a week thing) to lose weight. - 6/30/2014   7:51:35 PM
  • 587
    OMGoodness...I've tried sooo many different "diets". I have had a weight problem for 40 of my 53 years. The past couple of years I finally got it....don't cut anything from your eating plan....eat in moderation, weigh your food and get off your butt and move!!
    The worst me and my BF did was adkins...I was exercising everyday and struggled to get through an hour. I was sooo constipated. I felt like I had a cheese log in my a$$.
    - 6/30/2014   7:46:48 PM
  • 586
    My mother-in-law thinks that, to lose weight, you should eat lettuce on toast. That's it. Like...eat that a couple times a day.

    May as well put that up there with starvation. - 6/30/2014   7:35:00 PM
  • 585
    Im sorry .. i think the worst advice I get is:.. "you dont have to give up ANYTHING to lose weight".. BS.. you have to give up bad habits.. you have to reduce intake of calorie dense foods and keep your insulin down. I know everyone is different.. maybe SOME people can eat a little bit of cheese cake and lasagna and still stay sanely on track.. but not I.. - 6/30/2014   7:07:45 PM
  • 584
    My sister-in-law's doc told her to boil her food (no seasoning or anything) and only drink black coffee, cuz if it tastes bad you wont eat so much!

    PS - frozen peas, carrots and corn is delish! - 5/21/2014   1:25:28 AM
  • 583
    The worst diet advice I ever saw was in a diet book from the 70's (I think) that I picked up from a rummage sale years ago. They wanted you to eat a lot of salads which in itself is not bad, but in their list of greens to add to the salad was rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous.
    The next worst came from an ex-fiancÚ who was trying to get me to follow some fad diet he had read about - "If it's in print it has to be true. They wouldn't be able to publish it if it wasn't true."

    As for the Atkins "diet" if you can follow it, it works. But you have to follow it, and follow all the phases, including the part where you gradually add more carbs until you find out how many carbs your body can tolerate without gaining again. It is a lifestyle change not a diet to use until you lose what you want and go off cold turkey. But it's not for everyone. - 5/20/2014   11:54:15 AM
  • 582
    A friend was on a no carbohydrate diet which shall remain nameless. She suggested I go to the website to check it out. When I checked recommended snacks, one was to fry chicken wings coated in crushed pork rinds. They suggested making ahead and keeping them with you to eat any time. REALLY?!? That is demanding that you throw out all common sense and everything you've ever learned about healthy eating and all diet knowledge ever gained. No wonder that friend's weight never went down... - 5/20/2014   7:49:38 AM
  • 581
    My daughter's favorite snack from age 3 to age 7 was frozen corn - straight from the freezer. She would beg for it. So, I'm not sure eating still frozen veggies is really that weird.

    I know people mean well when they tell you "the only thing that worked for them" (and, therefore, it should work for you). Case in point, Weight Watchers. I know it's helped hundreds of thousands of people. But I gained weight (while very strictly following their diet... the leader even had my (then) sister-in-law spend a weekend with me to try to catch me cheating, which I wasn't).

    Set mealtimes are the bane of my existence. I lose weight when I only eat when I'm hungry, regardless of whether it is a "mealtime" or not. Some days this means I have a single meal, other days it means I eat twice. But that's what works for *me*. - 5/20/2014   1:30:27 AM
  • 580
    I did a presentation about some of the weirder fad diets out there. There is one called the "Air" Diet. I don't think I need to continue, but my goodness! - 5/20/2014   12:22:23 AM
    My (overweight) mother always says "If you want something, just eat it. That way you won't keep eating other things to compensate." So when she wants cookies, she eats cookies, because she thinks it is stopping her from eating anything else. - 4/3/2014   11:31:05 PM
  • 578
    I think the best food to each day is from all food gropes in moderation Your body need milk bread whole wheat some meat lots of vegetables and fruit
    Fat Food is not bad the amount you eat is - 3/16/2014   2:05:05 PM
  • 577
    Worst diet I ever read about was the color diet. You only eat one color of food for a specified length of time and then switch to the next color. Absurd! - 1/17/2014   9:53:15 AM
  • 576
    Worst advise: 1. Eat junk food for breakfast. 2. Go to bed hungry. - 12/16/2013   1:02:57 AM
  • 575
    As someone's already pointed out, it's frustrating to hear advice about stopping a bad habit that you don't have. I hear a lot of people boasting about the weight they lost by reducing their intake of soda and alcohol. That's great for them, but I've been drinking water for years... What am I supposed to do? - 11/21/2013   3:51:22 AM
  • GUIN66
    I know a little girl who will only eat peas if they are frozen and straight out of the freezer! They taste great, too, in my opinion. - 8/23/2013   12:50:53 AM
    the worst advice I was given was to eat 6 small meals a day to make it easier to digest. while this is logical, it also got me used to eating when I wasn't hungry. so I found myself eating just because I was told to, NOT because I was hungry. i'm finding this difficult to stop. - 8/23/2013   12:18:56 AM
  • 572
    I was shocked and horrified at the thought of eating frozen peas! Then last night when I got a bag of frozen peas out the the freezer for dinner, I thought "Oh, what the heck?" and tried some.


    Next trip to the grocery store, I am getting the extra large bag! Really, they are like "pea candy." Next, I will try corn! And broad beans!

    On reading all the posts below, it is amazing to see how truly bad doctors there are out there! In order to survive in our health care system, you have to be own advocate! - 8/22/2013   10:08:27 PM
    Low fat/low carb everything! I gained all of my weight doing that! Went from a heavy (for me) 145 to 245 lbs eating all the bread and pasta I could want. This was all over the TV and I was a true believer. Not cool at all.

    I went Vegan for awhile. Next!!!

    Another gem, think of the food you want while crunching on celery sticks. Crunching celery while thinking of chocolate chip cookies or ice cream doesn't work.I saw this one on TV and the girl demonstrated. This does not work. At all. - 8/22/2013   6:57:49 PM
    One time, my sister claimed her doctor told her it was okay to eat no more than one McDonald's Quarter Pounder per week. I suppose that falls under the category of moderation, but her triglycerides were high so I can't imagine a doctor saying that was okay. - 8/22/2013   3:15:36 PM
  • 569
    I think that what is bad diet advise (lowering carbs for example) for some people or maybe even the majority of people is not bad diet advise for others. I am diabetic and controlled with what I eat so I don't have to use insulin and stuff, but it means I have to be careful how many carbs I eat. So my diet looks a lot like the Atkins diet, and he never claimed that you could skip veggies! I eat more veggies now (but low carb veggies like leafy greens and cabbage and cucumber) than I did before. I do eat more carbs because I like fruit and my blood sugars don't react to fruit as badly as to processed foods (I measure to see how things react) so I use extra carbs just for fruit.

    What I notice is that reading through the mentions of bad diets, that most people mention diets they've heard about from others but that were not meant in the way that they have become known. People oversimplify. Atkins is not just meat and bacon and cheese. THe large amount of carbs that are advised are not 'necessary', smaller amounts works just fine and there are quite a few people who feel very good on a moderate carb diet, because it works for them. But others have higher carb needs and feel cranky on it. The 'hour a day' diet and the rest of the day low carb is the 'Carboydrate Addict's Diet' and they were very clear in the book that you were not supposed to just have an hour-long binge, you are supposed to eat one third of your plate protein, one third veggies, and one third carbs you really wanted that day, and not overeat on the carbs. I tried that and I know it works great for some, because you limit the insulin spike that way to one a day. For me it caused bad cravings if I eat chocolate, candy or bread, even as dessert, so sticking with fruit is the best for me. The six meals a day is from a diet that started as body building diet, and it is supposed to be small meals, and works for some and not others. I think that though doctors seem to think there is one metabolism (with exceptions for diabetes and stuff), really there are many variations out there, and what will work for some is not a 'fits all' for everyone.

    The only thing that I think is unwise is to eat only one or a few foods throughout the day and week, so cabbage soup, or just oranges, or just cookies would probably lose you weight because you'd be sick and tired of the food soon, but it's not healthy. And anything that adds substances that are not naturally found in the body at your stage in life (or gender, so any added hormones, amphetamines, anything like that) I would have to say I think would probably be unhealthy, unless you were missing the substance and then it becomes a medical thing. - 8/22/2013   1:54:51 AM
    Adding my vote for "frozen peas and corn was a part of my happy childhood". Also, frozen fruit. In the summer, it really is super lovely. It's not so much craving frozen veggies and not being able to bear cooked veggies when it's butter-meltingly hot outside *and* inside. - 8/21/2013   9:48:23 PM
  • 567
    I remember as a kid seeing an ad in a magazine from some sugar marketing organisation about how if you eat a tablespoons of sugar a half an hour before meals you will eat less. Even then I thought it was hooey. - 8/21/2013   9:44:58 PM
  • 566
    Actually, my daughter loves eating frozen corn as a snack. She asked me yesterday to get her a bag she can keep for her own so it's there when she wants it. Sure enough, I came home today and she had a bowl sitting with her!
    Worst advice I've ever heard was from a trainer at a huge national gym. They said "it doesn't matter what you eat during a day, just as long as the calories are spot on." I overheard this in answer to "can I still eat some candy bars every day?" - 8/21/2013   8:21:29 PM
    Worst advice are the unsolicited comments, especially at a pot luck dinner. Knowing that I am going to one means I watch what I eat in advance so I can splurge on a treat. A lot of times there are plenty of oily, drenched in mayo, high carb sides. Those aren't my thing so I pass them up. Yet if I take just a sliver--a few bites worth of one of my absolute favorite sweets that will leave me feeling happy and satisfied, people will tell me to eat the greasy sides and leave the desserts for "the skinny people." - 8/21/2013   3:27:24 PM
  • 564
    A friend of mine went to a doctor who prescribed her Adipex and a low-carb diet. He never expanded on the diet, and with each visit, harshly criticized her weight. And when the low-carb diet left her constipated (because she clearly wasn't getting enough fiber in the process... she doesn't care much for fruits or veggies), he told her to go to Walmart and buy Alli, because, in his words, "it won't allow your body to absorb fats and should help loosen things up." And it did. As soon as she ate anything, she couldn't make it to the bathroom fast enough. So her body basically wasn't getting anything except a drug that left her wired and moody. She was strict and obsessed and after about four months, she was down 55 pounds. But people kept telling her she looked tired. Her skin looked terrible and she had no energy. I tried to get her to join Weight Watchers with me because it's a true lifestyle-changer, but apparently I don't know what I'm talking about. I've only lost 45 pounds with them... *eye-roll*... The doctor eventually lost his medical license, and my friend gained back everything she'd lost, plus some. And now she suffers from multiple health issues, many of which could be from the crazy dieting she's done through the years. It angers me that someone in the medical field, someone whose very job is to help heal people, would not only suggest, but profit from a method that's so dangerous.

    As for me, I once dated a guy whose idea of support was actually an infuriating form of embarrassment. We went to a restaurant once, and when I ordered, he asked, in front of the waiter and other patrons, "Do you really think you should eat that?" I guess he thought he was advising me well, but really I just wanted to kill him, and would have too, had the waiter not reacted by promptly removing all utensils from the table. Allowing someone to embarrass you into avoiding unhealthy foods is, a crappy way to "diet," and I was NOT havin' it. - 8/21/2013   1:23:41 PM
    I was so surprised to see this article running again! I am also surprised that articles are not proof-read before posted. The worst advice you've read is to eat your peas & corn? Seriously? My favorite scene in the movie Baptists At My Barbeque was when Tartan came out of the kitchen with a bag of frozen peas & sat at the table & started popping them! The article would have been good were it not for that statement. The comments, however, were very good! - 8/21/2013   1:16:44 PM
    I, too, used to give my little kids frozen peas or corn as a snack, and they liked them. Slightly sweet and better than processed stuff. - 8/21/2013   12:43:00 PM
  • 561
    I'm cracking up reading the comments. I thought I'd tried every diet out there, but I see I've missed a few -- thank God!
    To me, the latest craze is the nuttiest one I've heard: The Wrap. Really? Wrap your fat and it will go away. If you're dumb enough to believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. Soon as you remove the wrap, your fat pops out again. Puh-leeze! - 8/21/2013   11:56:31 AM
  • ANGEL10456
    I saw an ad on the Internet for PGX tablets. They were supposed to help you lose weight, but you had to take as many as six huge tablets at a time and I didn't lose any weight. - 8/21/2013   11:27:34 AM
  • 559
    The worst advice was from my mom where she was starving herself, but it was okay apparently because when she got to her goal weight, THAT was when she was going to start eating right. Okay... - 8/21/2013   9:50:26 AM
  • 558
    Back in the late 70's when I was a teenager and still going to my pediatrician, my mother mentioned to him that I wanted to lose weight. He wrote a prescription for diet pills. Nothing about exercise, no questions about my diet, just "here, take these pills." I took the pills exactly once. I got so jittery and weak, shaky, lightheaded etc. and I hated that feeling, so I just didn't take them again. Looking back on that time, and reviewing pictures etc. I wasn't even heavy. I was normal to thin actually, and I can't believe he didn't discuss that, much less that he prescribed diet pills. - 8/21/2013   8:56:18 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Suggested Stories

x Lose 10 Pounds by December 8! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.