Diets You Should Always Avoid

There seems to be no limit to the number and types of diets just waiting for us to sink our teeth into. Many of their claims are hard to swallow – and for good reason.

Some of these diets should be avoided at all costs because they put your health at risk or they are impossible to maintain.


A good weight loss plan is one that provides real foods, one that doesn’t cut out a single ingredient or food group, and one that is doable for life. We offer such plans here at


We could easily have listed dozens of bad diets, but we’re offering up just seven of the worst diets out there. You may have tried one or more – and most likely you know someone who has tried to lose weight with one of these plans – but our advice is to steer clear of these unsavory seven!

For a more thorough listing of bad diets, check out this feature at


The not-so-magnificent seven, according to Cooking Light:

Master Cleanse

“Known by many names, but most commonly the Master Cleanse, this diet involves surviving solely on a concoction of water, lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for over a week. For 10 days, dieters shun all solid foods to drink the strange spicy tea mix. Not only are you getting almost no nutrients or calories during this time period, some users experience nausea and weakness as the days progress.

“Almost all weight loss from this will be either temporary water weight or muscle mass, which will cause your metabolism to slow down. So as soon as you start eating solid food again, expect to gain back what you lost and then some.”


Cabbage Soup Diet

“A true classic in the fad dieting realm, the cabbage soup diet seems to have been around forever. It’s quite simple really, which is maybe why it has such lasting powers. You simply make a pot of fat-free cabbage soup and eat it. And only it. Until you’re miserable and skinny. While it sounds easy, and will make this week’s batch cooking much simpler, there’s no positives that come from eating the same food over and over.

“Along with lacking in nutrients, the cabbage soup diet is short on protein and heart-healthy fats, both of which contribute to feeling full and satiated. Balance is key.”


The Military Diet

“Often touted as a way to lose 10 pounds in one week, this extreme meal plan isn’t just miserable, it’s also dangerous. With no actual association with any branch of the military, the Military Diet is something that seems to have sprung to life on the internet. Meals are small, unvaried, and include bizarre combinations. Example meals include ‘1 cup cottage cheese, 1 hardboiled egg, 5 saltine crackers’ or ‘1 cup tuna, 1/2 banana, 1 cup vanilla ice cream.’

“The Military Diet suggests using the meal plan for three days, eating normal for four days, and repeating as necessary. This is a risky cycle that could easily become a habit of restricting and binging each week. Although not drastically low calorie, the high-fat foods that the diet requires, like cheddar cheese or hot dogs, won’t fill you up like a similar caloric portion of fiber-rich vegetable or fruit would.”


Tapeworm Diet

“Just about extreme as diets can get, the tapeworm diet pushes the boundaries of how far people are willing to go to lose weight. The concept is that the dieter orders a tapeworm eggs capsule online. Once the pills arrive, they swallow the pill and proceed to magically lose weight. What they don’t tell you about it is the various health issues that can arise from choosing to swallow a parasite.

“While the tapeworm grows and absorbs the calories, it also absorbs all of the nutrients you consume. Severe malnutrition, debilitating stomach pain, and constant nausea and diarrhea are just some of the common side effects. Other risks include the eggs spreading to multiple parts of your body and causing life threatening issues. The tapeworm is hard to kill and usually requires a hospital visit to remove.”


The Flecherizing Diet

“Ever been yelled at by your mom to chew your food? Well Horace Fletcher, founder of the Flecherizing Diet, took it to a whole new level. The idea is to chew all foods 100 times before swallowing.

“While this might help you lose weight because you can’t finish your lunch without committing at least an hour to masticating, there’s absolutely zero science showing that thoroughly chewing does anything for weight loss.”


Baby Food Diet

“Created by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who services clients like Gwyneth Paltrow, this diet requires you to buy jars and jars of baby food. The diet’s concept is to replace two meals each day with baby food.

“With each jar coming in at about 20-100 calories, the calories on this diet are dangerously low for adults. Plus dieters will feel unsatisfied slurping up pureed peas and bananas next to co-workers who are enjoying their solid food lunches.”


The Cookie Diet

“Possibly the most tempting sounding diet on this list, the Cookie Diet has the same problem as the Cabbage Soup Diet: man cannot live by one food alone. But you’re not eating just any cookies. Multiple brands, like Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet or The Hollywood Cookie Diet, suggest that you replace your breakfast, lunch, and snacks with their ‘specially formulated’ cookies.

“Although most brands supplement their cookie products by adding in vitamins and minerals so you’re not solely living off of sugar and refined carbs, you’re still missing out on consuming fresh foods to fuel your body. Cost is also a big issue, with most programs clocking in at over $200 for four weeks-worth of cookies. Any weight loss achieved by this will often be regained when users return to regular meals, unless they plan on eating cookies for the rest of their life.”


Have you tried a zany diet – one you are willing to admit? Please drop us a line and let us know so we can share it in a follow-up feature.



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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