Eating A Tapeworm To Lose Weight And Other Weird Diets From History (VIDEO)

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Published on April 26th, 2014
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The Cabbage Soup Diet

The Cabbage Soup Diet is a quick fix -- you can only follow the diet plan for seven days at a time. During that week, you can only eat fruits, vegetables and, of course, cabbage soup (staying true to the diet's moniker). Although followers of this diet often do lose weight, according to Cheryl Forberg, R.D. and resident nutritionist for NBC's The Biggest Loser, most of that loss consists of water weight. Not only will the pounds come back on easily, but ultimately, who wants to eat cabbage soup for a week?

The Grapefruit Diet is also built around limiting calories by greatly minimizing the foods that one is "allowed" to eat. This eating plan, which has been around since the 1930s, sets out a specific set of foods that dieters can eat for meals, which include unsweetened grapefruit juice, black coffee, non-starchy vegetables and some fish and meats. This diet is hooked on the belief that grapefruit possesses a "fat-burning" quality -- on top of being a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. "The problem with [this] idea is that no science supports [this] claim, and the weight loss the diet triggers is due to the low calorie intake. This ... can rarely be maintained," says Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., L.D., FADA, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. Besides proliferating false information, the Grapefruit Diet -- and other diets that rely on a limited list of foods -- take the fun out of eating. When a diet is boring, we tend to get bored with it, which doesn't bode well for making a long-term lifestyle change.

Although it's been around since the 1950s, the HCG Diet has received quite a bit of press over the past year. Requiring dieters to take in only 500 calories a day -- while the lowest intake recommended by the U.S. Committee on Dietary Allowance is 1,200 calories -- HCG couples caloric restriction with injections of the human choriogonadotropin (HCG) hormone. The hormone is supposed to stimulate weight loss. However, the FDA has approved the hormone treatment for women having fertility issues at this point, but not for weight loss. Although some experts, such as Dr. Oz, have stated that the diet plan should be researched further, others argue that it is wholly dangerous. "[The HCG diet] features hormone injections ... that are as useful as Dumbo's feather, but that justify a very high cost. The real reason for weight loss is a starvation diet ... which can, in fact, be lethal," says Dr. Katz. Forberg cautions against trying any diet where the caloric intake is so low that exercise is inadvisable. "You don't want to lose your muscle," she says.

The images conjured up by the Sleeping Beauty Diet's name turn out to be fairly accurate. The plan encourages people to sedate themselves for a few days to "sleep off" weight. The King of Rock 'n Roll himself, Elvis Presley, reportedly was a fan of this diet plan. While there is evidence that suggests that sleep deprivation hinders weight loss efforts, the answer isn't to jump to the other extreme -- especially when you need sleep aids to do it.

We've all heard that "French Women Don't Get Fat," but French women's magazine, Grazia, reported on a diet that takes this assertion to an extreme -- "L'Air Fooding" or "The Air Diet." Apparently inspired by photographs of stars and models holding food near their mouths without actually ingesting it, this "diet plan" suggests miming eating without actually following through. Starvation is obviously not a healthy diet plan. Perhaps this magazine feature was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but anorexia is no laughing matter.

Created by Dr. Alwin C. Lewis, the Five-Bite Diet is all about portion control (i.e. very tiny portions). Dieters are told to drink lots of water in between meals, while only eating five bites of food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is largely ignored. LIVESTRONG.com qualifies the Five-Bite Diet as a "crash diet," which can ultimately cause your metabolism to slow. Besides being ineffective for weight loss in the long-run, this eating plan just isn't healthy. "The Five-Bite Diet is one more example of a very low calorie diet," says Diekman. "As with many other diets, the Five-Bite Diet does not meet all nutritional needs, is not designed for long-term adherence and actually promotes poor eating behaviors."

We've probably all heard horror stories of friends traveling internationally and coming back with a parasite. Turns out, some people are catching parasites -- such as tapeworms -- in a desperate attempt to get slim. This "trend" was even profiled on "The Tyra Banks Show" in November 2009. According to the CDC, tapeworms can cause an array of infections, leading to serious symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, muscle damage and seizures. We think it's safe to say that the weight loss just isn't worth it.

Although the Baby Food Diet might pass Dr. Katz's golden rule -- as it's ideal for babies -- it isn't quite as wonderful for adults. The diet involves eating meals of pureed food (primarily fruits and vegetables) often throughout the day. As fad dieting goes, it's not half bad, as baby food is generally devoid of added sugars and fats -- unlike many processed adult foods. But at the end of the day, eating baby food all day is not sustainable for most adults. Eating pureed food doesn't allow for the enjoyment of chewing or the experiencing of various textures of food. "[Following the Baby Food Diet] would take half of the enjoyment out of eating," says Forberg.

The Cotton Ball Diet is another self-explanatory fad: you eat cotton balls before each meal. The theory is that eating cotton balls before meals -- which are high in fiber and not so high in calories -- will prevent you from overeating and will curb food cravings. In a mini-series for "The Cut," model Amy Lemmons talks about seeing other models, many of whom were as young as 16, dipping cotton balls into orange juice and eating them. Curbing hunger in this way not only prevents individuals from gaining all of the essential calories and nutrients that the body needs to function properly, but cotton balls are also simply not meant to be ingested. Eating cotton balls can cause an array of digestive problems.

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Eating A Tapeworm To Lose Weight And Other Weird Diets From History (VIDEO)

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