7 of the Worst Health Tips We've Seen on Pinterest

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Since launching in 2010, Pinterest has evolved into so much more than a place to post handicrafts, DIY projects and dream homes. These days, it's also a top online destination for those looking to lose weight and embrace a healthy lifestyle. You can find thousands of inspirational pins linking to nutritious recipes, effective workouts and motivational quotes. Pinterest can be a great complement to the SparkPeople community.

Most of the time.

Like any free social media network, Pinterest isn't always a reliable resource. For every handful of high-quality, expert-endorsed pins, there are likely to be a couple of bad apples with false, exaggerated or possibly even harmful information. If something sounds like it could be damaging, dangerous or just too good to be true, don't try it unless you've vetted it with a trusted professional.

Among the thousands of pins available, these seven specifically should be avoided at all costs. You've been warned.

Mono Meals: The "Freelee Banana Girl"

This Australian mono-meal advocate eats 2,500 to 5,000 calories a day, mainly consisting of single-fruit meals, to maintain her slim physique—but is it a healthy approach to weight loss?

Why It's Bad: The simplicity and low calories of the mono diet may be alluring, but experts agree that eating the same thing for every meal isn't a healthy or sustainable weight loss strategy. To lose weight safely and sustainably, you need to provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform activities of daily life, which includes a variety of nutrients plus protein, fat and carbohydrates. While it certainly takes the guesswork out of meal planning, that might be its only benefit—experts caution that the mono diet can lead to a metabolic slowdown, malnourishment and loss of energy.

Cardiac Diet: Lose 33 Pounds in 15 Days

Supposedly designed for patients going into surgery who needed to drop pounds quickly before their procedure, the so-called "cardiac diet" claims to trigger a weight loss of up to 33 pounds in 15 days.

Why It's Bad: Doctors agree that any weight-loss program labeled as "easy," "quick" or "extreme" is not likely to be healthy or sustainable. Becky Hand, a registered dietitian nutritionist with SparkPeople, recommends losing at a pace of one to two pounds weekly, which is five times slower than the diet recommended here. And weight-loss therapist Dr. Candice Seti warns about the drawbacks and dangers of using "quickie" weight-loss plans of poor nutritional quality. "Rapid weight loss schemes are almost always unhealthy and not maintainable," she says.

How to Wear a Waist Trainer

Waist trainers are 1950s-inspired, corset-style undergarments marketed as a quick way to "whittle" away your waistline. Programs are popping up all over the internet with day-to-day guidelines for "safely" using them to achieve a smaller midsection.


Why It's Bad: Not only do experts dispel the myth that these torturous-looking garments actually reduce the size of the waistline, they warn that they could do permanent damage to internal organs. In fact, some blogs have shared images of how waist trainers compress the stomach, intestine and colon, which can lead to a multitude of dangers ranging from impaired digestion, blood clots and difficulty breathing.

Thigh Gap

This pin claims to offer a series of exercises that, when performed every day, could supposedly help obtain what's known as a "thigh gap." Yes, it's just as it sounds: a visible space between the thighs. Through the power of social media, the idea of achieving the thigh gap became synonymous with the epitome of being thin or petite.


Why It's Bad: While we certainly have no qualms with the basic exercises listed on the pin (and, in fact, do many of them ourselves here at SparkPeople), we do have a big problem with encouraging women (or men, for that matter) to aspire to unrealistic and unhealthy body image standards, including the thigh gap. Just a quick internet search reveals that desirable body traits such as this one are unattainable for many due to genetics and bone structure. More concerning is that an obsession with the impossible can lead to negative body image issues or even an eating disorder.


Military Diet: Lose 10 Pounds in Just 3 Days

Followers of the military diet adhere to a strict diet for three days in an attempt to lose weight quickly. The linked page also advocated "exercising as much as you can" while sticking to the low-calorie diet.

Why It's Bad: Beyond the likelihood of regaining any weight lost as soon as the diet ends, Toby Amidor, nutrition expert and author of "The Greek Yogurt Kitchen," points out that the diet could actually be dangerous. "The listed acceptable foods have no rhyme or reason, and if someone was to follow this plan for a long period of time, it could possibly result in insufficient nutrient intake." Hand agrees, noting that the diet does not instill healthy habits for long-term success.

3-Day Detox Diet

Advocates of this three-day detox diet promise that by limiting yourself to just five foods, you could lose weight and get clearer skin.


Why It's Bad: While the specific foods in this diet—blueberries, Greek yogurt, spinach, red onion and almonds—aren't unhealthy themselves, the mindset behind a detox diet doesn't lend itself to a long-term healthy lifestyle. According to Hand, any weight lost by restricting certain foods and drinking specific beverages will primarily be from water loss and dehydration, and will not be permanent.

"There is no medical evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body," Hand says. "And although they are not necessarily unsafe, they are far from being nutritious and healthy for the body. They are a terrible way to lose weight."

Colon Cleansing

This site claims that by cleansing the colon with this "miracle juice," you can lose weight, prevent fluid retention and promote easier digestion.


Why It's Bad: Put simply, Hand says the colon doesn't need to be cleansed, and that doctors advise against it. "These cleanses can disrupt the normal functioning and balance of the large intestine, resulting in electrolyte imbalances, diarrhea, dehydration and damage to the protective bacteria in the large intestine," she warns. Hand says it's best to let the body purify itself, which happens naturally when eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
What terrible tips have you seen on social media? Share them in the comments!

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CECELW 3/17/2021
I believe I have read this before Report
DIVAGLOW 2/5/2021
It's sad that people believe these things. Thanks for sharing. Report
SNUZYQ2 1/16/2021
Lots of ideas to be found on the internet. I’m so glad to have the Spark filter! Thank you for sharing! Report
DEE107 12/3/2020
thank you Report
CD1260471 7/27/2020
What’s hilarious to me are the images for “thigh gap.”
The contorted postures in the original photos (I always assume digital darkroom is involved as well) are slightly wide stance, pelvis tilted anteriorly and maybe shifting right or left.
Basically, only people with certain angles between the pelvis and femur can ever see a gap.
When I’m under 120 and toned, I have an obvious one. Add five pounds or slack off exercising and it’s so much less. Above 130 and nope. (I learned the term about a decade ago, and thought, huh. Is this a legitimate thing? And paid attention on me.)

It’s a tiny space, and honestly the obsession with it borders on body dysmorphia. Report
PLCHAPPELL 7/10/2020
So interesting Report
Well presented! Thank you! Report
Only healthy way is eating whole food diet and exercise imo. Report
It took a long time to gain weight, it will take a while to lose it. Nothing is a quick fix. These are just nonsense quick fixes for someone trying to make a name for themselves Report
Thank You...……... Report
The first time I saw "Thigh Gap" issue was in the early 1980's with Callan Pickney's book "Callanetics" (she later on came out with a VHS video, and about 20 years later, the CD came out.).

And I pinned this article to my SparkPeople board on Pinterest! Hee Hee! Report
I like the saying that "Too much of any one thing is not good" and it's true here. Slow weight loss is best, be consistent. Report
I personally call our now society "The microwave society" ever since the microwave came out (yeah I am old) suddenly EVERYTHING NEEDS to be DONE NOW!! NOW!! NOW!!

Sadly many people buy into the "ME NOW" attitude. But, to be healthy takes away the ME NOW NOW NOW to me be healthy no quick fix. I am down 120 lbs and it was NOT over night, it was NOT without a ton of struggles, but it's lasting. It's been over a year. Report
In high school many of my friends were on the baby food diet. They ate 2 jars for breakfast, 3 for lunch, and 4 for dinner. None of them lost any substantial weight and though they may have been eating from the various food groups, I am sure they were missing out on fiber and some nutrients
I have done the 3-day diet twice. The only thing I found good about it was that I got to eat vanilla ice cream on the 3rd day. I lost 7 pounds both times but I didn't see any point in starving myself for 7 pounds. I gained the weight back within 2 weeks so it wasn't worth it. I eat vanilla or any kind of ice cream when I want and I don't put any restrictions on myself except to stay within portion sizes and eat healthy so my blood sugars stay in range. Report
I worked with a woman who was going to a wedding. She wanted to look her best and thought she needed to lose weight. Her solution was to eat nothing but salad. What happened? She lost weight but ended up hospitalized. It's not worth it. Eat normally. Eat balanced meals, just smaller portions. Report
Thanks! Report
Great article! Report
Thank you. great info Report
Thanks no more DIETS for me just plain old fashion healthy eating Report
Great article Report
Gotta be carefeul, guess you could get dangerous dieting! Report
interesting info Report
Thanks for the heads-up. Report
Thanks. Report
I thank you so much! One of my doctors told me that I needed the "thigh gap" and it has remained on my mind. I'm going to forget it now. Report
Thank you Report
We would not fall for these things if we were not so impatient. I am trying to teach myself that slow works in many things. Report
If this article were a fable it would end with: never kick discernment and/or good research to the curb. Report
Great article Report
For the past 3 years I have been affiliated with a company that advocates Clean Eating, and a 30 day plan to get you established. As you said, it is all about eating good, nutritious food that gives your body what it needs to operate in full health. Our society is so 'instant' focused that many folks don't want to take the hard road, even though it can mean a better, more full, life in the long run. Thank you for addressing this issue of fad diets. Report
One of the worst diets I seen is the "Eat What You Want During The Week But Fast On The Weekend (only drink water)". Report
I have never gone for a "fad" diet. It's seems to good to be true, it probably is!!
Thanks for sharing. Report
hard to believe how many people go for these type diets. I remember my mom and me doing a banana diet back when I was a teen. Glad SP is here to set things straight Report
Great article, hopefully none of us sparkers will try any of them. Report
Thanks Report
This is a great article and a reminder to me to discuss these types of false claims with my teenage daughters. They both love to try things they find on Pinterest and other places online. I remember doing the same thing with magazine articles when I was a teen. Most of it is fun and harmless - snack recipes, crafts, and beauty tips. But these ridiculous diet and exercise claims are mixed in with the fun girly stuff. I need to remind them that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is no shortcut to a lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising sensibly! Report
What it's difficult to understand is how people can still fall for all of this crap. Report
It's not just the internet. These horrible health tips can be found in every single one of the grocery store rags you see at checkout. They all say the same thing, shed weight fast. lose 10 pounds in 10 days. In Woman's World magazine, there is an article that praising the grapefruit diet. The title is,"The grapefruit diet hack that blasts belly fat in days". It says that if you do the grapefruit diet, you can lose 9 pounds in 7 days. You eat a half a grapefruit at every meal.

What makes the grocery store rags bad is that they all say "Dr Oz" endorses X, Y or Z diet. I stopped watching Dr Oz ages ago because he showcased far too many of these hack diets.

What makes me feel bad is how many people believe these tips work. Too many people are still looking for a quick fix. Report
Thanks for the warnings Report
I wish I could say I am amazed how gullible can be, but i'm not surprised at all. We didn't get overweight over night, we're not going to be able to lose weight over night. Some people can become so desperate, they are illogical. Quick fix writters are not interested in your health. We have no face in their mind. They won't care. Report
thank you Report
Thank you SO MUCH! Virtually all of the diets you listed (in particular "cleansing" diets) make me crazy! Report
I would hope that Spark member are smarter than to fall for any of these fads. But , there's always a but, some people just want a quick answer and will try almost anything, In the long run they will discover that it's not the way to go. Hopefully no damage and they will find a sensible eating plan and exercise programs is the answer. Spark On.!!! Report
There are no miracles... Report
The Cardiac diet and Military diet are the same thing. Funny, people will never stop looking for the 'miracle' solution to losing weight when the answer is usually as easy as careful with what you eat in the first place. Unless there is a medical condition that could be influencing weight, balanced, healthy meals in appropriate portion size is the best approach to long-term success Report
Great advice. Report
Thanks for the alert Report
Wow, if you’re gullible enough to believe any of the pins you’ve included in this article...yikes. Clearly loads of misinformation and bad information abound. It’s our responsibility to research, review, and use our own best judgment. Report