11 Fad Diets I've Tried And Failed (So You Don't Have To)

If you've been hanging out at littlefoolbook for a while now, you already know that I'm a little bit crazy when it comes to food and weight loss and my body, and so the fact that I'm a reformed serial dieter should come as no surprise to you.

Spoiler Alert: I don't diet anymore. Not really. I have taken a very keen interest in eating mostly healthy because it makes me feel really good, but I still treat myself and I'll never say never to pizza.

And for the record, I'm not saying diets are bad, per se.

Obviously, I'm not a doctor and pretty much everything I say (or write) should be taken with a grain of salt (or not? Maybe that's bad for your cholesterol? I'm not sure. Like I said, I'm not a doctor), but I will go on record saying diets have been bad for me.

Because that's just the type of person I am. I go a little overboard (read: this).

If I fail (and I almost always fail when it comes to fad diets), I overwhelm myself with guilt.

If I succeed, well it might be good for a few weeks, but sooner or later someone shows up with pizza and I'm headed for a downward spiral into guilt and a gluten-induced bloat.

 Why, YES, this is me in the midst of one of my aforementioned downward spirals: Drunk, naked, and eating pizza in bed. Whatever. It happens.

Why, YES, this is me in the midst of one of my aforementioned downward spirals: Drunk, naked, and eating pizza in bed. Whatever. It happens.

Okay, this is getting dark.

Here's the silver lining: I've been there, done that so you don't have to. (I'm realizing, that's kind of the theme of littlefoolbook, as a whole). BTW, YOU'RE WELCOME.


11 Fad Diets I've Tried And Failed (So You Don't Have To)


1. The Weight Watchers Diet (modified)

Modified in the sense that my cousin and I both attempted this diet together, but because we were both University students and purchasing the program was something neither of us could actually afford, we sort of...*made it up*...as we went along. We guessed that we could probably eat about 20 points per day (this just seemed like a nice round number), and from there, anytime we ate, we would google "how many WW points in _______?". And that's how it went. 

Verdict: Naturally, since we basically pulled this diet out of...ahem...*thin air*, with no proven scientific basis surrounding it, neither of us lost any weight. Needless to say, we weren't actually following the Weight Watchers program. Maybe it actually works? Lots of people on the internet say it does. 

2. The Subway Diet

Because it worked for Jared, the Subway Guy, and also because Subway was a 27-second walk from the basement suite I lived in during my first year of University. Except I don't think I followed it right. I always ordered 12-inch Spicy Italians, not the suggested 6-inch turkey breast on wheat. In my defense, I also always took off the top half of the bun. I figured that sort of evened everything out? (It didn't.)

Verdict: I can't eat Subway anymore. I can't even smell Subway anymore. And also, turns out Jared the Subway Guy wasn't that great of a guy. 

3. The A-B-C Diet

Calorie restriction in its most extreme form. Seriously unhealthy. Anything that promotes starvation should just generally be avoided. (Unfortunately for me, anything that ends with the word "diet" is something I have a really hard time avoiding.) 

Words commonly associated with this real-life hunger games diet include malnutrition, fatigue, obsession, paranoia, depression, anger, danger. I survived 5 days on this diet, and when I say “survived," I mean it in its exact dictionary definition form: I continued to live or exist, especially in spite of danger (hanger) or hardship (when you're used to eating 500 calories for breakfast, 500 calories in a day is total hardship). I didn’t do much of anything during those 5 days because anytime I stood up, I felt instantly dizzy. This diet also isn’t very conducive to having a social life, and we all need one of those.

Verdict: I’m pretty sure this diet should be illegal.  

4. The Dr. OZ Smoothie Diet

Smoothies shouldn’t taste like garlic. That said, I tried out this diet in anticipation of a fast approaching* hot holiday in Costa Rica with the fam-jam, knowing I'd be spending majority of my time in a bathing suit. And while I found the lunch and dinner smoothie grotesque, the diet, in general, provides you with enough energy and calories to cope with normal, everyday life. It’s a 3-day thing, and shouldn’t be abused. At the end of the day, your body craves, wants, needs solid food.

Verdict: When on day 2 of my Dr. Oz Smoothie diet, my dad asked me if I wanted to go for Chinese food with him, I said YES, and we split a whole BBQ Duck between the two of us. I don’t even like duck. I didn’t lose any weight.

 *By "fast approaching" I mean, we were flying out in 3 days, and I had left my "body prep" to the very last possible moment before the trip. 

5. The Dukan Diet

Tolerable for…like…2 weeks? The somewhat-personal/somewhat-spammy online coaching is sort of nice, and despite the fact that the entirety of it is online and therefore impersonal, they do a decent job of personalizing your program to meet your needs (granted you don’t lie on the questionnaire). Also, if you’re ever so bold as to try this diet on for size (pun intended) I suggest NEVER making the tuna tartare from the recipe suggestions. VOM.

Verdict: Naturally, being the body-conscious female that I am, I lied on my questionnaire — heaven forbid whatever automated analysis program my answers went to know my true weight — and while I maybe only lost a pound, I felt fairly healthy the whole while I was on it. That's gotta count for something, right?

6. The Chicken Broth Diet

Stupid. An active, mentally engaged, semi-adult woman needs more than chicken broth to get her through the trials and tribulations, the drama and crisis of everyday life in college and thereafter.

Verdict: The only situation in which I see this diet being mildly beneficial is the day after you have your wisdom teeth removed. Otherwise, save your organic, free-range, low sodium, chicken broths for meals that you can actually chew.

7. The Baby Food Diet

That awkward moment when you’re on an already bad first date, and he asks you why you have jars of baby food in your purse…

Verdict: See above.

8. The Mono-Meal Diet


I'm pretty sure I saw this on Instagram, proceeded to do absolutely zero research on it — like didn't even confirm that it was an actual "diet" and not just some IG influencers weird eating habits — and tried it on for size. The trick to this "diet" (according to me) is that, instead of eating a normal breakfast of say...eggs, avocado, maybe a piece of toast, you eat only one food until you're full. I think it's supposed to be easier on the digestive system or something (maybe I just read that in an IG caption?), but if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Like instead of my body having to digest all these different types of foods, it only has to digest one type of food and really, that's just the kind of holiday my body could use. 

Verdict: I went with bananas. I ate three bananas, one after the other after the other. Then took this (see above) artsy pic of the bananas with my iPhone, so I, too, could Instagram about my #monomeal. And that was that. I never mono-meal'd again. Unless you count that time I ate seven different types of cheese in one sitting. IT'S CALLED CHARCUTERIE. AND IT'S POSH. 

9. The Master Cleanse

Otherwise known as the Lemonade Diet, it involves drinking a concoction of diuretics and nothing else. This diet gained some traction when celebrities like Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow endorsed it, but if there’s one thing I know about celebrity endorsements, it’s that Paris Hilton probably doesn’t eat at Carl’s Jr.

Verdict: Sure, you may lose a few pounds, but you’ll also be severely hangry, with a pounding headache and an inability to do much else but sit or lay or sleep. I lost 3 pounds in 2 days and gained back 3, plus 1 more for good measure shortly after I traded my “lemonade” for solid foods (read: pizza).

10. The Military Diet

Pretty sure I found this on page 6 of Google, which is the first red flag. Is it just me or should almost anything beyond the 1st page (and definitely anything beyond the 2nd page) be heavily fact-checked? Needless to say, I didn’t fact-check anything and I can’t say for sure if it is indeed an official “military diet”, but it did include vanilla ice cream every day, so I obviously had to give it a go.      

Verdict: Food was bland but plentiful. Think: boiled eggs, dry rye toast, vegetables without dip, plain chicken breast, etc. But there was the ice cream…I didn’t lose any weight.

11. The Yogurt and Granola Diet

Disclaimer: I made this one up all by myself.

Probably after I had seen one of those Activia commercials on TV, where a skinny white girl shakes her skinny hips. (Have I mentioned, I’m a sucker for hyperbolic/idealist marketing?). This diet included effectively attempting to eat only fat-free yogurt with sprinkles of granola for breakfast lunch and dinner. 

Verdict: I collapsed on the basketball court during practice on day 3. Don’t try this at home. Or anywhere. Ever.


Actually, don’t try ANY of these at home. Let me be your example of what not to do, k?

I think the bottom line should be that women are people (not just objects to endorse things like cheeseburgers or yogurt), and people need real, whole, fresh, healthy food to not just survive, but to thrive. 

Diet culture is constantly offering us a "quick fix", or some celebrity's six-pack in six weeks if we just sign over our souls (and appetites). Diet culture offers us fat-free, and zero-added-sugar, and 100-cal meal replacements in a bottle. What it doesn't offer us is nourishment, or an environment in which we are actually capable of reaching our body goals in a healthy way.

This is the do as I say, not as I do part: Take it from me, ditch the fad diets for good and feed your body what it actually needs—real, whole foods. 

And also, if we can get to a place where we're properly nourishing our body, maybe we should just stop caring so f&$king much what the scale says. Maybe, we should just throw those scales out the window — not literally, of course…we don’t want to hurt anyone. But you get what I’m saying, right?


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*feature image by Sarah Bahbah.