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

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/2/2013 6:00 AM   :  579 comments   :  46,632 Views

See More: weight loss, poll,
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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  • 529
    "Just stop drinking soda and Starbux and you'll lose weight and have extra $$!"

    I never WAS drinking either of those - why am I still fat and where's all my extra $$? - 8/20/2013   6:41:59 PM
  • 528
    My mother had a doctor in the late 1950's tell her to take up smoking to help control her calorie intake. YIKES! It took her forty years to kick the habit. - 8/20/2013   6:38:50 PM
    Fasting diets, I can't imagine because I get the shakes with too little nourishment especially exercising. I like to exercise soon after a meal not close to one. Exercise improvement is so satisfying. I can go longer or lift more. I love it. - 8/20/2013   6:38:12 PM
  • 526
    That anything you eat past 6pm will turn into fat. Another, just don't eat anything white. - 8/20/2013   6:32:02 PM
    Worst advice I've received?

    That saturated fat, red meat and dietary cholesterol are my mortal enemies (even though I'm literally made of these things)

    That [morning] breakfast is essential and "skipping meals" dangerous.

    That a majority of my calories should come from grains and starches and other high-profit margin agricultural byproducts.

    That achieving & maintaining a healthy weight is largely a matter of conscious willpower directed toward "portion control" and forced physical exertion.

    Arrogant reductionism in general--ie, gyms training a specific muscle in isolation, doctors treating a pure abstraction (such as one's LDL number) with powerful drugs, or the media hyping weak correlations between specific foods and relative risk of disease into the next reactionary diet-du-jour.

    Yep, lots of awful advice to choose from out there. - 8/20/2013   5:53:57 PM
  • 524
    My mom and I tried the Beverly Hills Diet, way back when, 70's or 80's I guess. There were days when you just ate watermelon all day (as much as you wanted, but nothing else.) Sometimes it was only chicken all day. It was really horrible, definitely not a sustainable thing as a regular way of life. Portion control and calories that correspond to the amount of exercise I do works great, and I can still plan for whatever foods are in season or whatever I am really in the mood for. This will work long term! - 8/20/2013   5:48:41 PM
  • 523
    The liquid protein diet craze of the late '70s. That was just insane.

    I know this is a trick a lot of people use, but it makes me ill to see someone dipping a fork into the dressing before every bite of salad--I want to say, "Stop playing with your food!" - 8/20/2013   5:41:33 PM
  • 522
    I was told I could eat what ever I want as long as I worked out. Not true, itís the quality of foods you eat + your intake VS output. - 8/20/2013   5:36:45 PM
  • 521
    My daughter was told by a gynecologist ( saw her ONCE and found another) that if she did the diet with the shakes , then greens and a lean, she would lose weight, cure her hypothyroidism, would allow her to go off coumadin, get normal periods and cure PCOS...she was pushing so hard, then turned to me and said "If you REALLY cared about your daughter, you'd not worry about how expensive it is" Yeah, this woman had just gotten back from a trip to Spain and bragged she took her shakes and didn't eat any spanish food...she was unhealthily thin..nope..weight watchers is working for both of us ( she was sanctioned soon after BTW) - 8/20/2013   5:29:48 PM
  • 520
    I honestly can't say that the 5/2 fasting diet is a bad one for some people - it is backed by a lot of pretty thorough research. However, I don't think it's suitable for very active people or people looking to add muscle mass, not just lose fat. I tried it for a few weeks, but I did not cope well with feeling hungry, and my activity level is such that only 500 calories on the fast days left me weak and dizzy. I might suggest it for people who are not intense exercisers who have elevated risks of diabetes, cancer, or high blood pressure. - 8/20/2013   4:47:55 PM
  • 519
    I think the word "moderation" is a bunch of hooey. It's like telling an alcoholic to moderate their alcohol intake. Seriously? Once my blood sugar starts to swing, moderation is out the window. I have to completely eliminate trigger foods for me. That means a strict diet...& possibly for the rest of my life. That's why the high protein, low carb diet is working for me. No more blood sugar roller coaster. - 8/20/2013   4:34:53 PM
    I think the 'shake' craze, I still cannot look at someone drink one (powder added to water and yum?) - 8/20/2013   4:07:33 PM
  • 517
    Frozen peas are yummy! My kids call it pea candy. - 8/20/2013   4:00:11 PM
  • 516
    Worst diet advice I ever heard was to drink 2 TBSPs of vinegar (regular vinegar) in an 8 oz glass of water 3-4 times a day. Asked my doctor about it and he said all it would do would be to rip out your stomach lining and get you sick fast! Of course, there is somewhat of a weight loss with that "diet plan"-- it just usually involves a lot of doctor visits too! Ugh! - 8/20/2013   3:54:44 PM
  • 515
    HCG Diet. Did it. (lost 25 lbs which is a lot for me) but gained it all back plus. with only 500 cal a day it really slows down your metabolism regardless of what the diet says. I also remember when i was in my teens (80's) my mom and I were going to go on this diet that you had to eat onion soup and a lot of it. YUCK! - 8/20/2013   3:52:12 PM
  • XFLIPS2013
    someone started telling me about some diet that uses horse urine. I quit listening when they said urine, LOL, no way I was going there... - 8/20/2013   3:50:34 PM
  • 513
    I think the grapefruit diet was the worst diet I ever tried. I figured that since I loved grapefruits that it would be easy - right? WRONG!!! Although I did lose weight (which I promptly gained back when I quit the diet), I had stomach pains almost everyday and really bad diarrhea most of the time.

    On another note, I wanted to comment on the diet tip to eat 5x a day. I now eat 5-6x a day and I've lost 60+lbs. Yes, it's true that they have to be small, snack sized meals but it really does work.

    When I started my weight loss journey, I knew that any diet that called for any type of deprivation was not going to work for me. Been there, done that. In the past, whenever I did that, I would end up binge eating because I was so hungry (of course, I was also working out and exercising too).

    By eating 5-6 small meals a day, I never feel like I'm starving myself. It also works well for me because I typically exercise hard in the morning and much lighter in the evening. By having snacks before and after exercising, I feel it improves not only my workout but my metabolism too.

    So while this particular tip may not work for everyone, it does work for some and that is one of the best things I love about SP. We're all on our own journey and we all just need to discover what does and does not work for us. Whether or not it works for others is their business. Heck, I have no doubt there are those who love the grapefruit diet and think it's a great diet. - 8/20/2013   3:32:32 PM
  • 512
    I've received advice to make/serve food I don't like, theory being "if it doesn't taste good you won't eat too much of it" = weight loss? Don't think so! I have never ascribed to any regime that suggests bad/yukky/bland "diet" don't get bonus weight-loss for making the calories-in unpleasant or unpalatable, no bonus points for suffering! - 8/20/2013   3:25:48 PM
  • 511
    the NO-fat diet of the 90's. Ruined my metabolism, ovaries, and thyroid. - 8/20/2013   3:22:33 PM
    I had bar guests that were telling me about their new diet where they don't eat anything for 2 days and then gorge themselves for 2 days. According to them, they lost a ton of weight doing that but it seems to be the most unhealthy way to get to a weight loss goal. - 8/20/2013   3:00:23 PM
    Frozen veggies! My son's girlfriend was doing it for a bit until she got tired of having just frozen veggies for 2 meals each day. Now she's doing something more sensible - Weight Watchers and exercise. It's working!!
    also know someone who did vinegar several times per day. Yuck! - 8/20/2013   2:46:38 PM
  • 508
    "Five Day Fasting." You're supposed to eat 500 calories Monday through Friday and then "whatever you want," on the weekend. I've never tried it - with my 6-7 hours of exercise per week, I have to have sufficient daily fuel. - 8/20/2013   2:21:40 PM
  • 507
    One of the strangest questions that I ever answered on a nutrition hot line was when a person called to tell me that her skin was completely orange and someone told her she could have a liver problem!! After a few questions and answers I learned that she was on a "carrot diet" and had been for over a week. All carrot diet lead to orange tinted skin!! I had a hard time not laughing on the phone and had quite a chuckle when I got off!! Not sure if she lost any weight but people sure noticed that she had been on a diet!! Hahahahaha! - 8/20/2013   2:03:19 PM
  • 506
    I bought a set of exercise videos that came with a "free" meal plan. I read the meal plan just to see if there was any new information and was horrified by their suggestion. They wanted people to work out for almost an hour a day and only eat their shakes . They even said it was okay if you feel dizzy, weak, and nauseous; it is just your body getting used to working out and eating less. I think you were supposed to start eating some regular foods again after 3 days or a week, but why would you want to starve yourself like that even for 1 day? - 8/20/2013   1:53:28 PM
  • 505
    Eat at the max 5 times a day with never more than 300 calories at a time. I gained weight because I couldn't figure out how to do it without overeating or starving.
    - 8/20/2013   1:49:43 PM
  • 504
    Mcaskey6 - that's the Dr. Bernstein diet. My GP says it works, as long as you're on it. Not for me, thank you :-)

    I remember one of my old head nurses - somebody told her she could lose weight by eating yogurt, so she had a yogurt after every meal - for some reason it didn't work! - 8/20/2013   12:51:21 PM
  • 503
    When I was 17, my pediatrician told me that I should weigh about 140 pounds. The kicker is that I was 6' 1" at the time! I carried that number around in my head for many years as my "ideal" weight--even though I continued to grow, topping out at 6' 2". Thankfully, I now know better! - 8/20/2013   12:50:45 PM
  • 502
    If you need to eat sugar, only eat it in the morning so you can burn it off throughout the day, and you can only get it from fruit. If you eat sugar any other time of the day, your body won't have a chance to burn it off. - 8/20/2013   12:26:02 PM
  • 501
    - Very low calorie diets
    - Diets that completely exclude entire food groups
    - Diets that consist of a shake for breakfast and lunch and a healthy dinner.
    - 8/20/2013   12:24:15 PM
  • 500
    HCG. Lost a lot of weight but then gained it all back (plus some)! And to make matters worse... I tried it again... lost a lot of weight and gained it all back (plus even more)! - 8/20/2013   12:21:22 PM
  • 499
    "Just don't eat until you aren't fat anymore." - 8/20/2013   12:16:31 PM
  • 498
    Reading a diet protocol once where they said, "We don't recommend exercise while trying to lose weight as it only makes you hungrier." - 8/20/2013   12:16:20 PM
  • 497
    My former doctor once told me that to lose weight I needed to cut back to 500 calories a day and stop exercising. That was the last time I saw her. My new doctor is reasonable and supportive of my balanced, conscientious eating. - 8/20/2013   12:09:18 PM
  • 496
    The worst advice I got came from my former doctor. When I asked him for tips on how to lose weight, he said "Just don't eat ! Worked for me !". I asked if he was kidding, and he said "No, really, I stopped eating. I would pass out occasionally, but apart from that, it worked !". Awful advice, absolutely awful. - 8/20/2013   12:02:32 PM
  • 495
    Oh there's so many! Top of the list has to be "eliminate carbs." It sounds like such a good idea, unless you know anything about biology. Next that I immediately think of is eating processed, frozen diet food. Gah! No thanks. It's filled with mystery chemicals, and is ages old. I'll stick with fresh food, thanks! The last one that immediately comes to mind is, "don't eat after such and such time of day." So, absurd! Again, a basic understanding of biology will tell you is is nonsense. - 8/20/2013   11:52:20 AM
  • 494
    "if you strength train BEFORE you lose the excess lbs, your muscles will trap the fat in your body and you won't be able to lose the fat"
    this was from a co-worker (if you watched The Carol Burnett Show, this woman looked very much like Mother Marcus - Harvey Korman in a dress). - 8/20/2013   11:41:21 AM
    No sugar or sugar equivalents ever (honey, etc.). Not the tiniest amount. - 8/20/2013   11:40:37 AM
    Back in the day, when I was 17 and looking to join the Army, I had my enlistment officer tell me that I needed to lose the couple of pounds that I was over the "limit" by eating nothing but grapefruit and eggs. Luckily for me, I had a father that didn't believe in fad diets. - 8/20/2013   11:40:14 AM
  • 491
    had a trainer tell me once that working your obliques is not good for a woman because you'd lose your waist! - 8/20/2013   11:40:04 AM
  • 490
    When I used to teach aerobic classes I had a woman call me anonymously to ask if it was OK to use speeders while doing my class. I told her that no only was that very dangerous but that it wasn't the correct way to lose weight either. OMG, I think I was in shock and was forever watching the class to see who could of made the phone call. - 8/20/2013   11:39:04 AM
  • 489
    My coworker once told me to suck on hard candy all day as a way to keep my calorie count down. She said, "it's less calories than a meal, and the sugar will give you enough energy for the day." I thought there was no way she could be serious, but her skinny butt did it! Eating disorder? I think so! - 8/20/2013   11:33:24 AM
  • 488
    The frozen veggies can sound a bit odd...
    But, one of my favorite after school snacks when I was a kid was a handful of frozen Brussels sprouts - right out of the freezer! - 8/20/2013   11:33:18 AM
  • 487
    -- duplicate -- - 8/20/2013   11:33:18 AM
  • 486
    TiaSlim Diet......drink their shake for 2-3 meals a day, you could add fruit then eat a "skinny" twice a day with a glass of water so it would "swell up" to curb your hunger. If you only had the shake 2 times a day eat a low carb, low fat, low calorie meal. - 8/20/2013   11:32:54 AM
  • 485
    fasting for 3 - 7 days
    on the other end of the spectrum
    have your cheat day and eat ALL OF EVERYTHING YOU WANT - both of these are absurd - but guess what - when you're desperate you try anything. - 8/20/2013   11:29:53 AM
  • 484
    I had a roommate in college who was studying to be a Nutritionist. But she was constantly going on the celery diet, the strawberry diet, the water fast, etc. She was a very beautiful petite girl, who was very fit. But she had a large chest and always thought she was fat. She would also lay out in the sun (and this is Arizona) for at least 2 hours every day, hoping to get burned across her nose and cheeks, because she thought she looked cute with that pink/red line. (apparently, blush didn't cut it.) - 8/20/2013   11:28:21 AM
  • 483
    Actually, just yesterday a woman in my office told me her Dr has her on a "Less then 1,000 calorie diet". She said she has to receive some sort of shots to keep from becoming ill, like the other patients under this Dr's care. I would try and talk her out of it, but she's extremely insistent that this Dr is the best and this is the only way she can lose weight. - 8/20/2013   11:25:11 AM
  • 482
    The cabbage soup diet. Yes people lost weight on it -- but the weight rolled right back on as soon as then gave up on the ultra restrictive diet. - 8/20/2013   11:16:51 AM
  • 481
    One of the worst is that Sensa scam. Sprinkle that on your Big Mac and you'll lose weight! Riiiiight! I looked at a box, and the main ingredient is maltodextrin, what you'd get in Molly McButter, for a lot less. - 8/20/2013   11:12:27 AM
  • 480
    I sometimes see people talk about a "cleansing fast" to rid their bodies of "all impurities." It concerns me that they're eating a very small amount of food for several days and drinking some concoction to act as a laxative. Just doesn't seem safe or healthy. - 8/20/2013   11:11:16 AM

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