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Dumb and Dangerous Ways to Lose Weight

I'm a Southern California-based writer and former teacher covering pop health, relationships, and spirituality.

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Desperate and dangerous dieters

Weight loss should be a priority for one's health and well-being but many people are concerned only about their appearance. Because of this, they'll do anything to lose weight even if it risks their health. Here are some of the craziest things people try to drop the pounds, why they might work, and what dangers they pose to the human body.


Eating tissue paper

Fashion models starving themselves to get thin before they walk the runway isn't exactly news but have you heard of eating tissue papers (aka Kleenex tissues) to lose weight? A former editor for Vogue magazine revealed some disturbing secrets of the fashion industry in her 2013 book titled, "The Vogue Factor," including the so-called tissue diet.

Models reportedly refrained from eating food for three days and in order to quiet the screaming hunger pains in their empty bellies, they would ball up wads of tissue paper and stuff them into their mouths, chew, and swallow with glasses of water. The tissues filled their stomachs, true, but the zero calories left them dangerously weak which didn't seem to faze them as long as they could strike a pose before the cameras.


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The dangers of the Cotton Ball and Tissue Paper Diet

Eating a "no-calorie food" sounds like a quick weight loss trick but there are serious problems with this idea. Before you think about trying it, it's important to understand that tissues are not a food. They are made from wood pulp or cellulose fibers that are processed with chemicals to soften, scent, color the product. Cotton balls aren't always pure cotton but are usually blended with polyester fibers as well and bleach and other chemicals. They are not designed for human consumption. The chemicals can cause digestive issues, liver problems, and even cancer. Eating tissues and cotton balls can cause blockages in the intestines, too.

Going on a cotton ball or tissue paper diet for any length of time results in starving your body of necessary nutrients and calories that feed the cells in your brain, blood, and every component of your body. The misconception about starving oneself to lose weight is that the body will pull the calories it needs from the stored fat first but studies have shown that those who go on starvation diets to lose fat also lose lean muscle mass. They also regain more weight quickly.



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Tapeworms, anyone?

The so-called "Tapeworm Diet" is not a diet. It's an infection. Yet, desperate dieters resort to these parasites to cause them to lose weight. How do they get the tapeworms into their bodies? Aside from the typical yet unintended way to ingest these which is through parasite-infected foods, dieters buy pills filled with tapeworm eggs. The FDA banned these pills that are still found outside of the US.

There are numerous accounts of people using these pills to their own peril. The tapeworm eggs hatch and the worms grow and multiple rapidly. The belief is that the tapeworms will consume the foods eaten by the host (person) so while the dieter can eat what he likes, the calories will be consumed by the tapeworms and not converted and stored as fat.

But that isn't the whole story. The tapeworms attach themselves to the host's intestines and absorb nutrients from the host's body. Again, the misguided belief is that the tapeworms will suck out the host's fat reserves. Remember that tapeworms are NOT selective in where they attach and what food sources they use. This means...

1. The tapeworms will attach to any part of the human body and not only the intestines. They often attach themselves to organs and tissues OUTSIDE the digestive tract, and that is called an "invasive infection." They can cause bacterial infections and neurological problems, including brain complications that result in dementia and blindness.

2. The tapeworms can cause blockages in more than the intestines but also the bile and pancreatic ducts and even the appendix.

3. Essentially, this "diet" is starvation PLUS infection. This weakens the body and other organs to a dangerous degree, and death is likely without medical intervention.

Even if you can endure the fever and sickness that come from the initial tapeworm infection, you may not see the desired results of weight loss as the tapeworms can trigger a voracious appetite for carbohydrates. The body is experiencing starvation so it causes a huge appetite for food. Some dieters will eat excess food thinking that the tapeworms will counter but they don't always keep up. That still can cause weight gain. You could end up fat, sick, and nearly dead.

Fat, sick, and nearly dead? That was the title of a documentary and health juice movement by a man named Joe Cross. His story of being fat, sick, and nearly dead and how he turned himself into a healthy, vibrant person is worth watching, especially if you're considering a drastic, dumb, and dangerous "diet" such as these in this article. You can find it on Netflex, too.

Mom Feeds Daughter Tapeworm Pills to Lose Weight

The Master Cleanse

The word "cleanse" sounds like it would be great for the human body. After all, who wouldn't want to be clean inside? The proponents of this "diet" paint cringe-worthy filthy pictures of your intestinal tract and how your clogged pipes prevent your body from absorbing necessary nutrients while storing fat. Their answer is a "lemonade" concoction of salt water, herbal laxative, and lemon juice. It's just a laxative, really, and it causes your body to be in a state of constant diarrhea so whatever you eat goes right out the other end.

Like the other "diets," The Master Cleanse Diet is a starvation method. It does not give your body the time it needs to digest properly, and your body needs food and calories. It will use the fat stores if food is not provided, true, but not providing sufficient calories for daily function puts severe stress on your body's organs resulting in all of the damage that starvation causes.

An occasional cleanse may have some health benefits if done wisely. It is not intended for an extended period of time nor as a diet method. Many health products are available for this type of cleanse but do not consider them without discussing with your medical professional.

Urine from Pregnant Women

This weight loss method has been around for a while now, and there are many who claim it works. Dieters receive injections of the urine of pregnant women. The urine contains HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy and typically used to treat fertility issues.

The FDA warns consumers against using over-the-counter pills that contain HCG, and its effectiveness for weight loss has never been studied. People who have found weight loss success on this diet ignore the fact that their weight loss undoubtedly comes from its 500-calorie food plan.

In addition to the injections, dieters must follow a strict 500-calorie-a-day eating schedule. Anyone restricting their intake to only 500 calories will lose weight. HCG does not act as an appetite suppressant nor does it stimulate the body to burn more calories so they serve no purpose in this weight loss method at all.


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Tongue Patch Plan

When you think of surgery for weight loss, what cones to mind? Gastric bypass or stomach stapling, right? Originating in South America and now brought into the US is a shocking procedure during which a scratchy piece of hard plastic mesh is sewn onto a dieter's tongue. The intention is to make eating and swallowing so unpleasant--even painful--that the dieter can consume only liquids. They are put on an 800-calorie restricted liquid diet along with an exercise routine.

Any weight loss is the result of the low calorie diet and exercise plan, its proponents admit, but the tongue patch is a helpful aid when their own willpower lags. Pain is a known deterrent but only you can decide if this extreme measure is worth it. The cost is around $2000, and follow-up reports have found that the dieters end up resuming their old eating habits when the mesh is removed.

Would you sew plastic onto your tongue to keep yourself from eating?

Cigarettes (Nicotine) and Energy Drinks

Chain smokers tend to be thin. Why? When they're stressed, they reach for cigarettes instead of food. Furthermore, nicotine has been known to suppress the appetite while increasing the resting metabolism rate. Because of this, kids are turning to vaping nicotine in order to lose weight.

Dieters might think that they can avoid the cancer risks of smoking because they're only doing to for short periods but using nicotine for weight loss has dire consequences, putting stress on the heart and lungs. Smoking also deprives the body's cells of oxygen which affects every vital organ including the skin.

"Smoking for weight loss is like turning to meth to lose weight," one dieter said. "Meth heads are skinny but everything else is a wreck."

Diet pills and energy drinks all bring on weight loss from the appetite suppression and increase in metabolism. Artificially inducing these processes always come with great risk to one's health. Dieters who turn to diet pills and energy drinks have been rushed to the emergency room with heart palpitations and stroke-like symptoms. Doctors have to counter the effects with medications. Some end up struggling with lifelong cases of anxiety.

If diet pills and energy drinks are so dangerous, why are they still sold in the US? Good question. Just as not every person who smokes will get cancer, not every person who takes a diet pill will have a heart attack and not every person who drinks an energy drink will have dangerous heart palpitations. The health care and supplement industry is driven by profit-motivated companies who pay large financial contributions to those who make the laws. When money is involved, lawmakers and CEOs will ignore the public well-being and instead put the onus upon the consumer. Even though the risks are high, and desperate dieters are willing to take their chances in order to drop the pounds while companies still make money.

If you're desperate enough to try this method, please talk to your doctor or check the product reviews first and follow the guidelines. As for energy drinks, there are no guidelines but you should never drink more than one a day, if that much. My own son had to be rushed into the emergency room after he consumed just three energy drinks in one morning. He now suffers from anxiety whenever his heart rate increases, even during exercise.


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Cabbage Soup Diet and Other Oldies But Goodies

One food type diets like the Cabbage Soup Diet have been around for many years. They all rely upon the same process: Calorie restriction. The Cabbage Soup Diet is based up a soup recipe that uses very low calorie ingredients, mostly liquid/water/broth. Cabbage is high in fiber, and its bulk takes a lot of space in the stomach which means the dieter will be filled or satiated easily with low calorie foods. If the dieter consumes only this food for a period of time, he or she will lose some weight due to calorie restriction.

The Apple Diet is also a one-food diet. Apples, like cabbage, are high in fiber and water. Dieters have a hard time sticking with one-food diets out of boredom which is a good thing because eating only one food leads to malnutrition.

Another oldie is The Water Diet which is based upon drinking large amounts of water to fill the stomach and suppress the appetite. While drinking water is an important and positive health habit, drinking copious amounts of water comes with its own risks. Too much water can cause an electrolyte imbalance which can be fatal.

Today, there are some better versions of these methods. The Water Diet by Andrew Robbins outlines the importance of water in our diet and using it properly for weight loss and other health benefits.

There are new Cabbage Soup recipes that use a host of other nutritional ingredients and not solely cabbage and water. Try them for better health and weight loss.

Are you desperate to lose weight?

More Crazy Diet Tricks?

What desperate measures have you heard about or have tried yourself? Please share in the comments below!

Here is another article about some of the crazy tricks people use to lose weight. Some really work in a safe but silly way.