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


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/2/2013 6:00 AM   :  629 comments   :  62,520 Views

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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)!

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  • 579
    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
  • 571
    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
  • 557
    Unless I specifically ask someone for diet advice, they'd best not give it.
    That's the best advice I have to offer... - 8/21/2013   8:54:06 AM
  • 556
    I think any kind of "fad" diet isn't a good idea for long term weight loss. Realistically you can't spend the rest of your life only eating, or not eating certain foods. Also, humans need a wide variety of food to insure good health and most fad diets don't allow for that. The only exception I think is a Vegetarian diet, it's not really a fad. If you do your research and make sure you're getting adequate protein it's a good diet for some people to follow.
    By the way, when I was a child one of my favorite things to do was to sneak frozen peas out of the pan or the bag and eat them. I still like them. - 8/21/2013   8:48:08 AM
  • 555
    I once had a person tell me that calories are just calories and calories and you can lose weight just as easily eating a low calorie diet of junk food as you can eating healthy food. So you should instead diet eating the foods you enjoy. This same person I had known for over 8 years and he was extremely overweight. He had been trying to lose weight those whole 8 years I knew him and instead of losing, he had been gaining. Definitely not someone who's "advice" I would follow about dieting. Especially since I knew how wrong he was. - 8/21/2013   7:59:33 AM
    Atkins and other high-protein diets left me socially unacceptable in an air quality kind of way if you know what I mean. Love the "sleeve of crackers" story. That's a good one! - 8/21/2013   7:28:47 AM
    I did HCG diet and took off 80 pounds in 3 rotations of the diet. Not every thing works for every body. I think the most important thing I learned from this program was to document everything I ate. This showed me what are my triggers and trouble items. I will never be able to just eat everything I like again, but being a size 4/6 (formerly size 22) is worth the "sacrifice". - 8/21/2013   7:03:58 AM
  • 552
    I love frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn and, most of all, frozen broad beans. The taste is so much fresher and they do melt slowly in your mouth, and take longer to eat because they're cold. - 8/21/2013   3:30:15 AM
  • 551
    I love frozen pea salad - 8/21/2013   1:30:24 AM
    My nine year old daughter loves peas, often as a "frozen" snack. It's not a diet for her, and I can think of a lot worse things she could snack on. I don't know about frozen corn though. - 8/21/2013   12:00:45 AM
  • 549
    When I was 19 I asked my doctor what would help me lose weight u know what kinda diet. (i was 200 pounds then) she said I did not need to go on a diet that I was healthy but if I wanted to go on a diet I could and that I should just eat healthy and cut down on my food and the weight would fly off..same doctor that told me to take antibiotics for 3 years to get rid of acne all it did was make me sick. - 8/20/2013   11:41:24 PM
  • 548
    A doctor told me that I shouldn't drink any milk while I was breastfeeding because "some babies are allergic to cow's milk" - 8/20/2013   11:39:17 PM
    I hate vegan diets. I am a weightlifting man who likes meat. Birds were meant to eat grass. Iíll keep to turkey, chicken breast, fish, lean beef, and the occasional fatty reds. Adkins would be perfect for me. Vegan, not so much, but truthfully, there are few things I would eliminate from my diet instead of simply maintaining proper proportions. - 8/20/2013   11:20:39 PM
  • 546
    My all time favorite was this plan. Eat 1/4 cup of dry cereal in the morning, and nothing else the rest of the day - then eat a sensible dinner. Yeah right! The other advice I always loved (usually said very smugly) is "You just have to cut down." Gee did you think?? - 8/20/2013   11:17:11 PM
    I tried the grapefruit diet and all of the acid caused me to break out! - 8/20/2013   11:15:06 PM
    The worst - cut your calories to 500 or less per day because "no one came out of a concentration camp fat" - 8/20/2013   10:20:05 PM
    I was told that you should never eat raw vegetables and cooked vegetables at the same time. Just plain weird! - 8/20/2013   9:39:43 PM
  • 542
    ***** WHAT IS THE TAPEWORM DIET??????*********

    The worst diet I have ever heard of is the Atkins [?] diet, where the person eats nothing but meat, and maybe a little cheese thrown in.

    As a vegan, I am appalled! And the few people I know who have stomached the diet, and actually lost the pounds, could not "stomach" it for long; and gained ALL the weight back, plus more as soon as they stopped the Atkins approach.

    The WORST diet I ever tried was when I was in collage. I weighed 123 pounds and thought I was obese [!!!!!!! -- Now I would KILL to weight 123!!] Anyway, I tried the grapefruit and boiled egg diet. I HATE eggs in any form, but love grapefruit. I think it lasted long enough to get down to 118; that was all the eggs I could stand.

    Isn't SP wonderful? No craziness here! - 8/20/2013   9:28:29 PM
  • 541
    Worst UNSOLICITED advice ever -- can't believe I didn't crack up in his face: "If you get hungry, just eat a sleeve of crackers. And, they'll make ya thirsty, but just wash it down with lots of water -- water's good for ya, anyway. I'm tellin' ya, it'll fill you up and you won't want to eat anything else for the rest of the day." - 8/20/2013   9:26:08 PM
    And, I can't believe that I just heard a news story about a doctor warning against the tapeworm diet. Is this still being done? - 8/20/2013   8:55:03 PM
    UGH I'm so sick of people offering advice when I tell them I'm losing weight. Everyone has an idea, but for me it just comes down to the stuff that we already know - portion control, lots of fruits and veggies, less fat and sugar, exercise, drink water and eat a balanced diet.

    And if one more person tells me that I should do the Paleo diet . . . . - 8/20/2013   8:53:10 PM
    The one bit of advice over all the horrible ones I've heard that did stick in my mind was not to drink ice water with your meal. Why? The cold temperature of the ice solidifies the fat you just ate thereby staying in your stomach and making you fat.

    Obviously internal body temperature keeps ice frozen. Why didn't science not tell me the stomach was a freezer?! - 8/20/2013   8:42:24 PM
    I think the worst diet I tried, along with a LOT of others, was the Scarsdale Diet back in the 70's. And my mother-in-law tried the HCG diet, which didn't work either. By the way, I followed the 5/2 Fast Diet earlier this year, (it's only 2 days of fasting/500 calories) and had no problems. I worked out every day and never felt like I lacked energy. The key is to eat the 500 calories in protein and complex carbs like vegetables/fruit/greek yogurt. And it's easier to manage if the 500 calories are split into two meals, but some people allot calories for small snacks too. It's only 2 non-consecutive days a week, and no, that does not send the body into the fabled "starvation mode". - 8/20/2013   8:41:51 PM
  • 536
    Drink glasses of plain hot water(not warm but HOT) throughout the day to help you burn fat. That's ridiculous!!! - 8/20/2013   8:23:53 PM
  • 535
    Did someone really say the worst advice they've ever received regarding diets is that breakfast is essential and skipping meals is dangerous? Really?

    Breakfast IS essential! It's called BREAK-FAST for a reason. Breakfast is necessary to get your metabolism properly moving for the day. Notice our fit elderly counterparts ALWAYS eat breakfast! Why skip the meal that fuels the day?

    Also, skipping meals can contribute to fluctuations in blood sugar, your body going into "starvation" mode and consuming muscle, and increases the risk of Type II Diabetes.

    So, if that's the worst advice you've ever received, you clearly are new to the world of nutrition. Let's not use the word "diet." I hate that word. - 8/20/2013   7:25:14 PM
  • 534
    My doctor (at the time), who was overweight, put me on the grapefruit diet. I don't think it lasted long enough for me to even actually lose any weight. - 8/20/2013   7:21:33 PM
  • 533
    How about, I think it was called, the Pritikin Diet. It came out in the 90s and one day you would eat all the fruit you could eat. The next day you would eat all the vegetables you could eat. My mother, sister and I never felt so hungry in our lives! Neither fruit alone nor vegetables alone satisfied us at all. There was very little nutrients that keep us satisfied. - 8/20/2013   7:00:45 PM
    The HCG diet! A relative tried it and I couldn't believe how insane it was. The "science" isn't sound at all and eating only 500 calories a day isn't good for anyone! - 8/20/2013   6:54:38 PM
  • 531
    Day one. Eat nothing but a slice of peanut butter toast
    at each meal.
    Day two. Eat nothing but a boiled egg at each meal.
    Day three. Eat nothing but a small can of tuna in water
    sprinkled with vinegar at each meal.
    - 8/20/2013   6:52:40 PM
  • 530
    Load your plate, but cover at least half of each dish with
    black pepper to make it inedible. - 8/20/2013   6:49:58 PM

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