I think we can all agree that January is bullshit, and it’s time we stop pretending otherwise. Between the insufferable “I’m coming for you 2018” Instas and my boss’s vague insistence that I should be “refreshed” from my time off (if refreshed means hungover, then sure), I’m honestly just confused with how people are meant to spend the holidays. Personally, I’ve spent the past two weeks playing “can I eat more than I did yesterday,” which means my general January sadness is compounded by the fact that sweatpants are actually all that fits me right now. Since I’ve crash-dieted enough to know certain eating plans will do nothing but leave me fatter and crankier than when I started, I’ve compiled a list of the worst diets you could start right now.
(And by right now, I obviously mean Monday.)
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
This diet, while disgusting, has the benefit of requiring very little real effort, so it’s tempting to give it a shot. The basic principle here is that you drink three glasses of an apple cider vinegar mixture daily (one before each meal), in the hopes of improving your metabolism and suppressing your appetite. Apple cider vinegar does have certain good uses—like helping with liver function or clearing your skin—but these uses are achieved by incorporating a tiny bit into your diet, not by full-on drinking watered-down vinegar three times a day. While you’re welcome to find this out on your own, I can assure you that all you’ll achieve from this diet is feeling nauseous, gassy, and maybe even damaging your stomach lining. You might lose a few pounds from legitimately feeling too sick to eat, but at that point you might as well just pick up some gas station sushi and try for the “food poisoning diet.”
2. Intermittent Fasting
Overall, I think this diet has the potential to be effective and work for some people—I just also think, if you’re anything like me, this diet is not what you want to try right now. With various options for how to portion out your fasting (you can choose certain days of the week, or 12-18 hours every day), the restrictions on when you can eat are meant to lower your overall calorie consumption (makes sense). And while I’m told that the hunger cravings do eventually die down during those fasting periods, I’ve never quite made it to the other side of that tunnel. Instead, I end up fasting for maybe 8 hours, ruining half my friendships from hanger, and sucking down an entire pizza at night (so basically, what my diet is anyway). The bad thing about trying and failing at this diet is that you get into a fasting/bingeing cycle, which is terrible for your metabolism, will likely cause stomach pain, and overall instills bad food habits. If you know yourself and you know you won’t stick to the fast, cut your losses and don’t try this.
3. Low-Fat Diets
I find it alarming that people still do this, but there’s a lot of confusing nutrition data out there (I still can’t figure out if salmon is supposed to give you cancer or cure it), so I guess I get it. But you know what’s a low-fat food? Twizzlers. Twizzlers actively advertise themselves as a “low-fat snack,” which should give you a good sense of how healthy most food that advertises itself similarly actually is. A “low-fat” label is basically announcing that a lack of fat is the most nutritional value that food can offer—so it’ll be filled with sodium, sugar, artificial ingredients, and almost nothing that actually keeps you full/healthy/etc. I’m not telling you to dive headfirst into bacon mac n’ cheese, because fat is the best and makes you so skinny (though tbh how good does that sound), but don’t kid yourself that you’re making healthy choices if the only thing you’re looking at is fat content, and don’t expect to see any change beyond some sodium bloat and new cravings—flavor created without fat is weird and not to be trusted.
4. Not Eating Solid Food
If you’re like Lala Kent and you’re gearing up to join your “man” on his jet in two days, then sure, juice it out—but for any time window longer than that, you already know that any variation of a food-free cleanse will end in pain. What’s even more annoying than the speed with which you gain back the three pounds it took half your life force to lose is the overall self-hatred that this kind of diet instills in you. Whether you cheat halfway through, or are just eating your first regularly scheduled real meal post-cleanse, something now feels dirty and bad about the food you once loved, and no one deserves that. And with liquid diets like the Beyoncé master cleanse, you get the added bonus of essentially announcing to the world that you’ll be shitting out your holiday weight in the communal bathroom over the next five days. Everybody knows what cleanse means, and it isn’t cute. Also, you somehow end up spending even more money on weird-ass ingredients or juices than you would on food anyway (and that’s saying a lot), so there’s literally no win to be had here.
If you’re truly desperate about your holiday belly situation, the best general advice I can offer is drinking a ton of water, moving as much as you can, and practicing portion control. At the end of the day, just try to cut down
how much candy you eat after 10pm on your worst eating habits, and make restrictions that don’t ruin your will to live—they’ll last longer, I promise, and you still have four months before you have to think about wearing shorts again.
Images: Charles Etoroma / Unsplash; Giphy (2)