Let me just start off by saying, I never wanted to try the Whole30 diet.
Once people find out that you’ve made a hobby of testing out miserable fad diets just so you can write about the trials and tribulations, they start lobbing all kinds of ideas at you. Among some truly horrifying suggestions (the potato diet), and a few that I actually considered tackling (still the potato diet), the Whole30 diet always seemed to pop up.
I had a handful of go-to excuses prepared for when it inevitably came up: too mainstream, too similar to keto, too boring, etc. But much like death, taxes, and the nervous breakdown I’ll likely suffer as a result of numerous fad dieting experiments, Whole30 seemed to be inevitable. And while none of my stock answers were especially wrong, none of them really touched on the true reason I avoided the Whole30 diet up until now, which was, quite simply, that I thought it would fucking suck.
Well guess what? I was right. It does fucking suck.
But before we get to that let’s rewind a bit, because maybe some of you live truly blessed lives and don’t know exactly what this hellhole of a program entails. In short, it’s an elimination diet. Created by Melissa and Doug Hartwig in 2009, the Whole30 diet is a regimen that emphasizes “whole” foods while cutting out sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes, and joy. The logic here is that any one of these things, either on their own or collectively, could be negatively impacting your health, and therefore cutting out every single one without any rhyme or reason will cleanse your body, letting it heal and recover from whatever shit you’ve been putting it through for the last 26 or so years.
Rather than just help you lose weight, the Whole30 diet’s aim is to ultimately change your relationship with food. It’s not just trying to teach to you abstain, but to eventually forget about the foods you love that are supposedly ruining your life. Because of this, they have zero tolerance for cheating and don’t support any kind of alternative replacement treat.
Clearly, I have a few issues with the ideology. For instance, say I were so unfortunate as to be cursed with a dairy intolerance but was unaware of the exact cause of my ailment. By cutting out all the things that the Whole30 diet forbids, I would know that dairy could potentially be the problem, but it could also have something to do with the four other categories of food that I stopped eating cold turkey. At the end of the 30 days, re-introducing these foods to my diet would be akin to traversing a minefield, just waiting for the meal that would send me sprinting to the bathroom for an extended period of time. Honestly, I think a trip to an allergist could save you a month’s worth of suffering and provide you with a definitive answer to your problems.
But hey, that’s just me.
Me: Wow I kind of wish I could have some cheese right n-
Also, as a rule of thumb, I have an instinctive distrust of any diet that allows you to eat potatoes. I appreciate it. I respect it. But I don’t trust it. It is the diet equivalent of “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.”
You would think my general hatred of Whole30 stems from the restrictive nature of the diet, but that’s not even it. I get restrictive, it kind of comes with the territory in these experiments that I voluntarily put myself through. Do I miss dairy and alcohol? More than I’d like to admit. But if I’ve learned anything by this point, it’s that I can put myself through some pretty heinous shit if I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s also usually the added benefit of generally losing some weight, but that’s not the case this time around.
The Whole30 diet has been a miserable experience thus far, in large part because the effort I’ve exerted and suffering I’ve endured aren’t being offset by any kind of benefit. In fact, the results are negligible at best. I’ve withstood sugar withdrawals, blinding headaches, extreme bloating, borderline narcolepsy, mood swings, general malaise, and verbal abuse from friends who find out that I’m abstaining from alcohol for an entire month, all for what? Losing a measly four pounds? Rumored benefits that have yet to kick in? Widespread resentment from every barista in Portland that I’ve grilled over the sugar content of their alternative milk? Cool. Thanks, Hartwigs. My life has truly changed for the better.
In fact, my biggest qualms with the Whole30 diet have come down to the two beverages that have essentially defined my life up until this point: alcohol and coffee. While I’ve had two weeks to come to terms with that single sentence, I’m still not crazy about it. I don’t say it to sound pathetic or try and draw parallels to those Hemingway fanboys who write about drinking whiskey and hating women. I say it because, like most twentysomethings who are trying to reconcile their hopes, dreams, and aspirations with the current climate of the world and their place in it, it’s true. Also, I like drinking. Sue me.
First and foremost, I hate black coffee. I would say 30% of that hatred is due to the actual taste, and the remaining 70% can be attributed to what black coffee stands for. People who pride themselves on drinking black coffee are the same people who list “sarcastic to a fault” in their Hinge bio. The level of pretentious it takes to think that drinking black coffee makes you enlightened is the same level required to loudly discuss your cryptocurrency portfolio at a bar. We all drink this stupid, acidic bean water to make waking up and existing every day just the slightest bit more tolerable. You’re not special because you can stomach it without cream.
Now to the arguably biggest drawback to the Whole30 diet: no alcohol. If you want to get yelled at by your friends for a month straight, boy do I have the diet for you. As if being the designated sober person for 30 days isn’t hard enough, you will also have to deal with every possible drunk person you come into contact with telling you that you’re making the single greatest mistake possible. This isn’t hyperbolic. That is what every one of them will say.
If I’m being honest, the alcohol restriction was the biggest draw of this diet for me, largely in part because it was so challenging. After you do stupid things like eat ice cream for a week straight, food challenges start to lose their gravitas. But a month long abstention from drinking? That’s new territory. In fact, that’s probably the longest I’ve gone without drinking since I was 18 years old, another sentence that truly makes me hate myself.
And while avoiding hangovers for four weekends in a row is definitely a plus, what I didn’t realize is how much I would miss casual drinking. A glass of wine after a long day of work. A cold cider at happy hour on the first sunny day for the year. A vodka soda to cling to at the bar when you find yourself separated from your friends and attempting to avoid eye contact with creepy guys.
In all fairness, I am only two weeks into this ordeal and thus can’t accurately report on any real results. By breaking my experience into two installments, I’m hoping that my thoughts will be easier to both outline and digest. Perhaps two weeks from now I’ll be 10 lbs. lighter, eating my words alongside a bowl full of grilled vegetables and tahini dressing (the only ray of light in this otherwise dreary experience). But right now, I’m not convinced.
Week One: Sleeping (Not) Beauty
Week one is supposed to be a rollercoaster of emotion, starting with a far too confident “what’s the big deal?” phase, which quickly declines into a roaring hangover from the carbs and sugars you stuffed into your body immediately before starting out under the pretense of “well…I’m going on a cleanse.”
After that, you’re likely to fall victim to mood swings that can be very easily mistaken for PMS, followed by two to three days of a full-body tired that you haven’t felt the likes of since high school. If you just read all that and thought to yourself, “but when do the good things start to happen?” you and I have a lot in common. Which means you’ll also be devastated to find out that no real benefit of this diet is due to kick in until around day 12. And yet here I am at day 15, wondering when my will to live will return from war.
My first week of the Whole30 diet can be summed up in a single word: exhausted. I have truly not been this tired since the tender age of 16, when my body was growing at an inhuman rate and required every ounce of energy within me to keep my knees from disintegrating. In fact, on day three I almost fell asleep at lunch, and then crumbled into an absolute pit of despair when I momentarily believed that the reason I was suddenly succumbing to narcolepsy is because I was going through another growth spurt at 26.
Me on Day One: I’ve tackled keto. I drank spicy lemonade for 10 straight days. I ate Halo Top for a week. I’m invincible.
Me on Day Six: *Googling whether or not it’s physically harmful to sleep for 48 consecutive hours*
I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t muster the energy to pretend to be interested in things that I didn’t even remotely care about. But it wasn’t until I cancelled a workout class, six minutes before it started and with zero regard for any kind of cancellation fee, that I realized something was amiss. It was at this point that I finally decided to do some research into why it felt like I was dying, and discovered the Whole30 diet timeline.
They do caveat that the timeline is subjective and everyone’s experience is unique, but I still decided to blindly trust it. This meant that I was at least marginally justified in sleeping about 30 hours over the course of the next three days, but was still full of dread for what I knew was to come.
There were many lows of week one. Usually that kind of sentence is followed by “but there were also a handful of highs.” There weren’t. Not a high in sight. Every morning that I woke up and remembered that I had to force down black coffee just so I could make it to work unearthed a new level of rock bottom that I personally was not prepared for.
“But what about coconut milk? Almond milk? Any form of alternative milk that is available in Portland, OR—the home of alternative milks?” Great question that will inevitably show up in the comment section. Here’s the thing: most alternative milks have some kind of sugar or preservative in them that isn’t Whole30 diet compliant. If you read the label on any given food item and don’t recognize, or can’t pronounce, one of the ingredients, odds are it’s not allowed. So, short of making my own almond milk, I was out of luck. Did that stop me from having a painful conversation about the sugar content in my favorite coffee shop’s house nut milk trio? No. Did I feel good about that? Also no.
Certain canned coconut milk is allowed, but it’s the kind you cook with. Was I ready to become the girl who came to work with coconut milk and a can opener just because my high-maintenance ass wants something slightly resembling a latte? Idk, talk to me in a week in a half.
Week Two: The Great Bloat
After lamenting the lack of coffee creamer in my life the entire week before, I remembered that there’s a work-around for this: bulletproof coffee. By replacing grass-fed butter with ghee or coconut oil, I was able to drink something that was at least marginally more enjoyable than the black coffee I’d begrudgingly come to tolerate. Just throw 16 ounces of coffee and one tablespoon of your fat of choice into a blender, and mix until nice and frothy. I found that coconut oil coffee was lighter than Ghee and an ideal start for the first sunny day in Portland this year, with the added benefit of keeping your lips moisturized all morning. Ghee provided a richer taste, which I found paired perfectly with the cold, dreary mornings that immediately followed.
Week two was when I really hit my stride with meal prepping. Make no mistake: The Whole30 diet requires an outrageous amount of meal prep. Eating out isn’t easy, so I spent three hours of the last two Saturdays preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week ahead. I didn’t expect to enjoy this part, but I’ve actually begun to find it kind of soothing to know that I don’t have to worry about coming home and cooking anything after work.
Week two meal prep, however, was almost entirely derailed when I woke up Saturday morning feeling like I’d consumed six vodka sodas and absolutely zero water the night before. In my early morning haze, I quickly accepted the fact that I’d waste my morning lying in bed hungover before I realized that there was zero reason to be feeling this way. I hadn’t gone out the night before, definitely hadn’t had any alcohol. In fact, I was asleep by 9:30pm. After an hour of deliberation and the slightly irrational conclusion that maybe I had contracted salmonella, my roommate pointed out that I was very likely going through a sugar withdrawal.
This was news to me because I really don’t consume that much sugar in my normal diet, certainly not enough for the migraine that was slowly blinding me. But some quick research verified her claim, which is how I found out that some health and wellness professionals assert that sugar withdrawals are on par with cocaine in terms of severity. Now, I’m not saying that a cocaine diet would likely have better results for just about the same level of suffering, but I’m also not not saying that.
Throughout week one I developed a heavy dependence on almond butter. It became my life, my love, my reason to be. I went through an entire jar in the first week, usually accompanied by some kind of fruit. Why does a diet that wants you to cut all sugar out of your life allow you to have fruit? Great question. All I can say is that, after what I experienced, it probably shouldn’t.
The closest I’ve come to a peak is when I discovered a Whole30 diet compliant recipe for banana chia pudding, which became my nightly treat. With just three ingredients (banana, coconut milk, and chia seeds), it was easy to make and a relatively guilt-free indulgence. Or so I thought.
I’ve been eating bananas all my life and up until these past two weeks, there have been zero negative side effects. But since starting Whole30, I can’t eat bananas without becoming comically bloated. Like, we’re talking post-Thanksgiving levels of discomfort. At first I thought this might be a fluke, a weird side effect of the diet. But after I (illegally) whipped up some fake banana ice cream the other night and went to bed looking four months pregnant, I realized something was very, very wrong. So in line with the logic of the Whole30 diet, I’m cutting bananas out of my life for the next two weeks. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can never have them again, but I can promise it won’t be rational.
The thing is, even when I wasn’t suffering from banana-induced weight gain, I have yet to feel good throughout this experience. You know when you start a diet and after two days, despite any discernible difference in your appearance, you just feel amazing? You’re confident to the point of hubris, breaking out jeans that haven’t fit in months “just to see,” walking around with a pep in your step, generally just happy with your outlook? Yeah, that has yet to happen, and I’m two weeks into this mess. In fact, I feel worse.
Logically, I know I’ve lost weight—four pounds, to be exact. But that’s considerably less exciting when you take into account that halfway through week two, I was one pound above my starting weight. So I’m technically netting four pounds, but only three below where I started.
Probably my biggest lesson so far is that knowing I’ve lost weight and feeling it are two vastly different things. I understand that there’s more at stake here than just weight loss, but if a diet doesn’t make you feel good, especially one that requires so much effort and upkeep, then what’s the point? Usually you’re miserable and dropping weight left and right, or you’re making slower progress but feeling stronger and energized than usual. I’m not succeeding at either of those things, and it’s even more frustrating when I remember how much money I’ve spent on groceries over the past 14 days.
Today begins week three, and morale is at an all-time low. I know things are getting bad because I found myself watching Tasty videos for 45 straight minutes last night. If you ever find yourself at the point where you’re salivating over the idea of a crunchy taco ring or lasagna chips and dip, you’re in bad shape.
I don’t know what the next two weeks hold for me, but I can promise that I’ll be angry for at least 90% of it. Stay tuned for the second installment of the Whole30 Diet Diaries, and maybe consider pouring one out for my sober ass on St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow.
Images: Giphy (5)
Just when you thought I might have learned my lesson about dabbling in fad diets for the sake of creative expression, I’ve made my miraculous return to the stage of questionable eating habits. It may have taken me two years to recover from the debacle that was the Cabbage Soup Diet, but I only came back stronger, more stubborn, and single-mindedly dedicated to destroying my body by any means necessary.
When I was asked to return for another installment of the Fad Diet Diaries, I thought about my previous experiences in the way I’m assuming mothers think about past pregnancies: a little nostalgic and blissfully remiss about the suffering that I’d incurred because time has a funny away of glossing over severe trauma. Except instead of being fat, happy and in the possession of a baby at the end of this journey, I am sitting here thin and angry with a bag of Cheetos that I can’t open until tomorrow morning. Still probably the better scenario, tbh.
So with rose-tinted memories and a new bathing suit that I needed to lose about two pounds to comfortably fit into, I agreed to attempt another fad diet in the hopes that people would read about it, laugh, and then never follow in my footsteps. Because how bad could it actually be, right?
Some background for those of you who aren’t hip on the diet dessert scene: Halo Top is a low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein ice cream that doesn’t taste like shit. In fact, it tastes really, really, good, which makes it a dream come true for people who want to stay in shape but actually enjoy life once in a while. A single pint boasts a mere 240–320 calories depending on the flavor, with anywhere from 20-24 grams of protein. For some context, the average woman is supposed to get 46 grams of protein a day which means this miracle ice cream is providing half of that, given that you shamelessly eat the entire thing. (Spoiler alert: I did that and more).
While researching potential diets I happened upon this article from GQ that was published in January 2016 about one man’s journey to death by Halo Top ice cream. This guy Shane ate nothing but five pints of Halo Top a day for 10 days straight. Wild, right? Shane’s experiment spawned a wave of copy cats like this one from some editors at Yahoo, this one from a reporter at Spoon University, and now me, a staff writer at Betches with an unquenchable thirst for suffering.
While not necessarily a fad diet, I was sold. Not because I wanted to live out some far-fetched childhood dream of eating ice cream for every meal or because I was inordinately passionate about sweets, but because it sounded fucking ridiculous. Ice cream and nothing else? Can you imagine having to explain that to people? The premise alone was so funny that I immediately reached out to Halo Top, asking them for a generous donation to supply my experiment without taking a minute to think about the ramifications or even the logistics of eating nothing but ice cream for an extended period of time.
After a few days, the kind souls at Halo Top got back to me, undoubtedly psyched that another writer with zero regard for their health wanted to give them a platform to discuss their product. With almost no questions asked other than my flavor preferences, they shipped me a box of about 30 pints, packaged up with their well-wishes and quick caveat that they definitely don’t recommend an ice cream exclusive diet for anyone. Add them to the long list of people I didn’t listen to.
While this may have been my third bout of fad dieting, this experience was truly unique in that everyone I know was aware and accepting of what I was doing. In the past, I’ve either lived at home or worked at places that didn’t foster the kind of office camaraderie that would let me divulge this weird-ass habit. That was not the case this time around.
My roommates, albeit nervous to have to live with me throughout the process, were on board. My co-workers were more excited than I was, not that there was a high bar for that. More strangers, friends of friends, random professional acquaintances, and assorted baristas knew about my Halo Top diet than the people I told about the Master Cleanse and Cabbage Soup Diet combined. It was like I had a small, supportive, highly concerned village around me at all times, which was equal parts comforting and nerve-wracking. Best yet, it held me accountable; there was no way I wasn’t seeing this through, not with an audience like that.
With my ice cream en route, it was time to start laying out a game plan. One thing I knew for certain: There was no way in hell I was eating five pints of ice cream a day. Sure, that’s how many it takes to get a healthy number of calories into your body, but I’ve never taken health into consideration during these experiments and I wasn’t about to start now.
Would I be able to ever look at myself in the mirror again knowing that I was physically capable of eating five pints of ice cream in a single day, let alone for a week straight? Better yet, would I want to? Turns out I would never have to worry about it, because I can’t do it. While I was determined to at least get four pints down on day one and then figure out my regimen from there on out, I tapped out at 3.5. I also may have started hallucinating, but that’s a story for later on.
In hindsight, the fact that I was already struggling to meet any kind of health standard on the first day should have foreshadowed how the rest of the diet would go. The three already published articles about this very experience probably also could have served as an indicator, but whatever.
If I managed four pints a day, that would mean I would be in the range of 1,120 calories and 80 grams of protein a day. As previously stated, the average woman needs 46 grams of protein a day and at least 1,500 calories (if she’s trying to lose one pound a week). With no medical education or any real reasoning behind it, I figured I could probably manage this routine for a week before I died, either from lack of nutrients or by my own hand.
While the food portion was strict, I was lenient with beverages. On top of an insane amount of water, I allowed myself coffee and alcohol because there needed to be some motivation to keep living.
Over the course of the next week, I would proceed to lose six pounds, my will to live, and any semblance of a functioning metabolism. In return, I gained the begrudging respect of my peers and a newfound sense of entitlement this Aquarius both didn’t need and didn’t even know was possible. Buckle up, losers.
One pint Oatmeal Cookie
One pint Chocolate Mocha Chip
One pint Cookie Dough
Half pint Pistachio
Total calories consumed: 1,080
Total protein consumed: 74 grams
I learned a lot on this first day, and while some of the discoveries were helpful, not all of them were things I really wanted to know about either life or myself.
Thanks to some handy advice, I learned that Halo Top is at its best when left out to thaw a bit. I don’t have time for things like nature to take its course, so I microwaved all my pints for 20 seconds before eating them. At that point, the consistency is that of average ice cream and slowly melts to an almost soft-serve like treat. It’s perfect.
I also found out it only takes me 30 minutes to eat an entire pint of ice cream. While I was horrified in the moment, this is laughable now. Day One Me would quake in fear before Day Seven Me, who managed to eat a single pint of ice cream in 10 minutes this morning because she was running late to work.
I learned that in some people, good manners and patience run miles deep. On the first day of this venture, I sat in a office-wide meeting, smack dab in the middle of the eye line of a man who had been asked to come in and talk about his illustrious career and instead got to sit and make eye contact for 30 full minutes with a girl who was shamelessly elbow deep in a pint of ice cream at 9am in the morning.
He had to have had 100 questions. Who is this animal? Why did they let her into the office? Why is everyone else ignoring the fact that she’s finished an entire carton of ice cream for breakfast? Why doesn’t she seem to feel any remorse?
But instead of asking a single one, he just smiled at me and continued on with his lecture. This entire saga is my formal apology to him.
Last, but certainly not least, I learned that it only takes 3.5 consecutive pints of ice cream to start hallucinating dead horses in the middle of the sidewalk that are, in fact, just sleeping dogs. No amount of attempted explanations will make anyone feel better about that.
One pint Chocolate Almond Crunch
One pint Birthday Cake
One pint Chocolate
Half pint Cookie Dough
Total calories consumed: 1,060
Total protein consumed: 74 grams
I would like to say that Day Two was rock bottom when in fact, each new day that I woke up and committed to eating nothing but ice cream was a new level of rock bottom that I had never thought myself possible of accessing.
I can tell you that it only takes two days of this diet to start contemplating additives like salt and hot sauce. I can also tell you that, no matter how sound your logic is on this, no one will agree with you.
It bears mentioning that I’m not necessarily a sweets person. I love salt. I love cheese. I love a good vegetable. I thought I loved ice cream, but clearly it was an infatuation more than anything else, a summer love gone horribly awry.
However, while I may have lamented this diet and spent many long afternoons dreaming of quesadillas, I couldn’t deny that the Halo Top tasted good. Not “oh, this is passable for diet” good, but legitimately enjoyable. No matter how angry I was in the moment, I always recognized that it could have (and absolutely has) been worse because, bottom line, this shit was delicious. I hope that one day I recover from my newfound aversion aversion to ice cream in general, because it’s the obvious choice for a treat yo’self kind of day.
In one of my weaker moments, I ended day two by asking one of my roommates to eat Cheetos so I could watch. Not something I’m proud of, but also not the last time it would happen.
One pint S’mores
One pint Mint Chip
Half pint Pistachio
One pint Salted Caramel
Total calories consumed: 1,000
Total protein consumed: 70 grams
This was the first day that the diet started to take a toll on my body. I wasn’t constantly hungry, as expected, likely due to the insane amounts of protein I was consuming. 70 grams may not sound like a lot to Wolverine or people from the midwest, but considering that I’m a hapless cook who has in her 25 years just managed to perfect cooking vegetables and the odd egg or two, it was way more than I got on a normal basis. However, because of the low calorie intake, I was exhausted.
I probably should have asked a doctor what kind of havoc over-indexing on protein and depleting my daily calories would have on my body, but instead I decided to see if I was still capable of exercising like normal. Guess what? I wasn’t.
If being able to continue your workout regimen like normal on a diet of high protein ice cream is what it takes to work at GQ, it looks like I’m never going to make it. Hats off to Shane, who somehow managed to do more than sleep and yell at people while undergoing this experience. I was just barely able to drag my lifeless body to one Barre3 class, where I told them I’d just recovered from a two week long bout of the flu so that my reputation wouldn’t be ruined by my performance.
The truly pathetic part is that, while it was a poor showing, this was not my worst class, which is a testament to how out of shape I was before I started going to Barre. Sure, it didn’t kill me, but it was definitely my last attempt at fitness that week.
What no one tells you about eating ice cream for seven straight days, as if there’s a manual for this kind of thing, is that people are going to think you’re insane. It seems like that would be a given, but it’s not.
Because your friends and coworkers are (skeptically) supportive and it seems like word has started to spread, you’ll forget that the entire city of Portland didn’t receive a press release about your endeavors. You may become so comfortable in your new lifestyle that you think it’s socially acceptable to arrive to bars or restaurants with a pint of ice cream in tow and casually dig in while everyone else eats normal food. You’ll likely make eye contact with people you’ve never met before but who you will certainly never forget, because the awe/horror/pity/fear in their eyes as you polish off a pint of Birthday Cake ice cream in a beer garden is the kind of thing that sticks with a person. This is part of the experience. Accept it, embrace it, and move on.
One of our writers tried the Halo Top diet, where she only ate Halo Top ice cream for a week straight. These are her stories. Catch up on part one of the Halo Top Diaries here!
One pint Birthday Cake
Half pint Cookie Dough
One pint Oatmeal Cookie
Half pint Strawberry
Half pint Chocolate
Total calories consumed: 1,020
Total protein consumed: 70 gams
Day four was monumental for two reasons.
It was the first day that I woke up actively craving ice cream.
It was the day that my body turned on me.
Up until this point, the first couple seconds of the morning were a time of naive bliss before I remembered what I had signed myself up for. I’d wake up and imagine heading out to brunch before being hit with the brutal reality of a pint of Vanilla Bean ice cream.
Also up until this point, I was confident. Overly confident. The ancient Greeks might have described it as hubris. I knew the diet would be hard. I knew that I would be mad. I knew that it was more sweets than I was accustomed to. I also thought I knew the limits to which my body could go.
When I first started telling people about this idea, most had the same initial reaction which was something along the lines of “Holy shit, that’s a lot of dairy. Isn’t that going to hurt your stomach?”
I laughed in their faces.
I thought that I was unequivocally prepared for this diet because my body thrives on dairy. Things like lactose intolerance and Osteoporosis are a myth in my family. Our bones are made of steel and our stomachs are lined with milk and while that’s a horrifying mental image, it’s just the way it is. My friends affectionately call me the Dairy Queen, partially because they don’t want me to be in a functional relationship anytime within the next 30 or so years, but also because my love of dairy-based products and my ability to process them knows no bounds.
In the Halo Top diet, I had finally met my match. One and a half pints into Day Four, I experienced a stomach cramp that I can only describe as cataclysmic. Were I not 100% sure that my appendix had been removed just a year before, I would have been sure that it had burst all over again. I was lying on the floor of my room, writing my will and Googling things like “can you have two appendixes???” before my roommate reminded me that I had consumed nothing but dairy for the past 72 hours. It took a minute for the implication to set in that my beloved dairy had somehow betrayed me but once it did, everything changed. From that point onward I was a broken woman.
A bottle of Pepto Bismol and a lot of praying later, the pain finally passed. As did my innocence and sense of youthful invincibility. I finally understood exactly what it was I had undertaken, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.
But it wasn’t until this moment that I realized the phantom cramp never returned, so just kidding I’m back to being untouchable.
DAY FIVE (Also Known As The 4th Of July)
One pint Vanilla Bean
Quarter pint Lemon Cake
One pint Cookie Dough
Total calories consumed: 660
Total protein consumed: 45 grams
While most Americans spent their 4th of July eating hot dogs and getting drunk in the hopes of collectively trying to forget the dumpster fire that we’re currently living in, I spent mine huffing chicken skewers on a beach. I was at a BBQ surrounded by friends and knew the people who had cooked the skewers, but that didn’t seem to make me feel any better.
I don’t know if it was the great Dairy Attack of the day before or if I had just finally hit my breaking point, but I couldn’t seem to force myself to my regular 3.5 pints. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to hit that mark again before the diet ended. Logically I knew I needed to eat more, but my body just seemed to shrug in the face of that particular bit of information. It was ready to die before it consumed anymore ice cream, which was dramatic and severely on brand.
There was a doctor in attendance at this BBQ and he didn’t immediately punch me in the face after I explained the premise of this ordeal, which I took as official medical approval to continue on. In a half-hearted attempt at being festive, I made a float out of the Vanilla Bean ice cream and some Marionberry cider. I’ll include the recipe for anyone who wants to try it out at home.
Step One: Pour the cider of your choosing directly into a pint of Halo Top Vanilla Bean ice cream. Don’t even pretend to be human enough at this point to experiment with cups.
Step Two: Cry.
One pint Mint Chip
One pint S’mores
One pint Vanilla Bean
Total calories consumed: 800
Total protein consumed: 60 grams
This was my first day back at work since kicking off the diet and the point at which I truly recognized how exhausted I was. I did a lot of contemplating and broke my experience down into three distinct phases.
Days One & Two: Curiosity meets hunger. Sure, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my diet, but it still had a sense of novelty to it. Look at how quirky I am! Just a girl and her industrial size box of ice cream!
Days Three-Five: Complete mania. I had no filter, no social graces, and not a single care other than letting the world know just how dissatisfied I was and potentially taking them down with me.
Days Six & Seven: Resigned exhaustion. I was still miserable, but had transcended mania into just a general sense of tranquil numbness. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was shaped like a breakfast burrito.
I went straight home afterwork and locked myself in my room with one of my now trademarked Marionberry cider floats (patent pending) and proceeded to scour the internet for documentaries about North Korea. No red flags here.
One pint Pistachio
One pint Birthday Cake
One Pint Mocha Chip
Total calories consumed: 840
Total protein consumed: 64 grams
This last day was a victory lap. Nothing notable happened other than the fact that I repeated the sentence “I’m almost there,” upwards of 70 times, sometimes to people, sometimes to myself, and sometimes to blank walls.
I had to reassure the dentist that I wasn’t dying when she counted my exceptionally low blood pressure, which lead to a conversation about why I thought it was a good idea to eat ice cream for seven days straight before my first dental appointment in years. Again, there wasn’t an abundance of foresight involved in this.
As I sit here on my final night of suffering, a pint of Chocolate Mocha Chip in hand and a tasty video for Pineapple Swinedogs on perpetual repeat in the background, I’ve come to reflect on the past week.
If you’re looking to lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, this may be the diet for you. However, I think I have to attribute the weight loss to a total lack of nutrients rather than the magic of the ice cream itself. I averaged a measly 922 calories a day combined with a whopping 65 grams of protein. I don’t know what that means for my body, but I’m hoping I wake up with superpowers and not a stroke.
Despite it all, I do need to recognize that there were some perks here. I didn’t starve for seven straight days like I expected, which I’m assuming had something to do with the excessive amount of protein I was eating. I was also more hydrated than I’ve ever been in my life, because in moments of desperation two bottles of water can pass as a satisfying meal. But these minor victories don’t outweigh the fact that, for the most part, I was a ravenous monster with little to no impulse control whose only saving grace was the fact that I genuinely enjoyed the single food item I allowed myself to eat for an entire week and had four days off of work to support a nap-heavy schedule.
If the single metric of success for this diet was weight loss, I guess you could chock it up to a win. That being said, I would not recommend it as a viable option for the five pages of reasons I just listed above. I would, however, recommend Halo Top in moderation, because I bet it’s a delicious treat which could be better enjoyed in less than whole pint increments.
In the end, I’d like to thank Halo Top for making this all possible, both through your donation and for creating an ice cream that gave me a platform to further explore my self-destructive habits. For the rest of you, it’s become clear that there are no limits to what I’ll put myself through in the name of what I consider “journalistic endeavors” and what others have referred to as “a wasted college degree,” so feel free to submit ideas for the next installment.
When we look back over the sad, failed history of dieting, one thing came to mind: “wtf.” Diets alone are really fucking stupid, given the fact that most, if not all, are unsustainable. If you cut out a whole food group, eventually you’re either going to slip up and eat from said forbidden food group OR crave it so much you go crawling back sans self-control or dignity. Same for any diet that considers soup your now only source of food. Do yourself a favor and eat HEALTHFULLY without restricting yourself to crazy, weird shit. By “crazy, weird shit” we mean any of the below aka the 10 worst diets of all time. Think of it like Nike, only the complete opposite i.e., just don’t do it.
1. The Tapeworm Diet
In today’s batshit crazy news, we learned that there literally used to be a tapeworm diet. Back in Victorian times, when a woman’s biggest issue was fitting into a corset and pretending to not be interested in banging her husband, some medical professionals decided that swallowing a goddamn tapeworm was the answer to pesky chubbiness. We shouldn’t have to explain why this is a terrible idea, but yeah, it is. To add to that, people are still buying janky capsules with tapeworm eggs inside/drinking the tap water in Mexico on purpoe. Earth to Matilda: This is really fucking dumb. Why doesn’t it work? Because the damn tapeworm lives in your fucking intestines, eats all your food, can result in malnutrition, AND yes, you can die.
2. The Cabbage Soup Diet
Any diet that literally has you eating one food for an extended period of time is a terrible goddamn idea. Can you imagine how insanely crazy you’re going to feel on Day 7 of eating cabbage soup? It doesn’t even SOUND appetizing. Yes, vegetables are good for you, but eating just cabbage soup will make you drop a ton of weight and then instantly gain it back when you stop dieting. Next.
3. The Grapefruit Diet
As is the case with No. 2 on the list, eating just grapefruit for an extended period of time is an awful, awful idea. Can you even IMAGINE your new aversion to citrus after a few days of this shit? Yes, you should be working things like grapefruit into your diet—shit, have one every morning for all we care. But if you go on replacing every meal with this sour af fruit, you’re going to fail in the long run. You’ll crave steak, fruit snacks, and all the carbs. Also if you’re on the pill it could fuck up your medication and you could end up pregnant. JUST SAY NO.
4. The Cookie Diet
This sounds like my kind of fucking diet, since my spirit animal is and always has been cookie monster. However, upon further investigation, we can’t believe this was ever—or even still is—a thing. Dr. Siegal, whose medical degree we question, came up with a diet that entails eating one to two cookies every few hours along with a 500-calorie meal of the dieter’s choice. The catch? The cookies are made of some bullshit ingredient (probably from Sweden and isn’t legal in the U.S., like phentermine) that is apparently going to make you lose weight. So, not only will the cookies taste like shit, but you’ll start hating cookies. Additionally, this won’t make you adjust your shitty eating habits AT ALL. Since, ya know, you’re training your brain into thinking cookies are the answer. Which, in this case, they are not.
5. Cigarette Diet
This sounds like a theme from Mad Men. Apparently, back in the 1920s, tobacco companies started pushing their cancer sticks as a means of controlling appetite. Nicotine does, in fact, suppress your urge to eat, but at the cost of having disgustingly smelling clothes, hair, and hands. Is the cancer worth dropping a few pounds? Gonna go with no on this one.
6. The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
Ok so yes we were all obsessed with the Master Cleanse a few years ago because we were really fucking stupid. How fast did you gain back all that weight? I’ll hold while you crunch the numbers. Drinking a combination of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and other bullshit may have you drop a few pounds at first, but, like OF COURSE YOU WILL, YOU’RE NOT EATING ANYTHING. I could drink Blue Gatorade and Ensure and drop weight, too. To add to that, enjoy your gastrointestinal discomfort brought on by the whole drinking vinegar thing. Not to mention the terrible, terrible gas. Sexy.
We tried the Master Cleanse (and lived). Read Memoirs Of A Master Cleanse here!
7. Detox Diets
Hey! You know how you have a liver and kidneys? The job of those apparently ignorable organs is to DETOXIFY YOUR BODY. So, these fucking diets touting extreme regimens like liver flushes, body cleanses, colonics, etc. are literally (and I mean literally) full of shit. Your body detoxifies itself all the goddamn time. Sure, if you want to add a few veggie juices and whole foods to your diet after a week of bingeing on pizza, it’ll “detox” you in a mild way. But having shit literally sucked out your butt and calling it necessary is the shittiest shit we’ve ever heard.
8. The Air Diet
I can’t even believe I have to address this, but, it’s a thing. Probably started by Gwyneth Paltrow and her ungodly shitty GOOP blog (Hey, Gwyneth—are you going to go ahead and rescind that jade vagina egg post? No? Cool). How’s it work? Dieters literally sit with an empty plate, fork, and pretend to fucking eat. Um, can’t think of a faster way to a) starve and b) develop a high-key eating disorder. Man and betch do not live on air and sunlight alone. There need to be nachos and chocolate. On second thought, anyone who does this probably has a great future in miming.
9. The Clay Diet
Something else probably piloted by Diet and Lifestyle Professional, Gwyneth Paltrow, is the clay diet. Apparently, you stir clay—yes, literally clay—into water and drink it. Why? Because it’ll totally detoxify your organs, of course! Wow, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how thrilled mothers of toddlers everywhere will be when they find out that, yes, their children can continue eating mud for health benefits. Seriously, whoever came up with this one: Go fuck yourself.
10. “Miracle” Diets
Any diet that starts with “miracle” or “what doctors don’t want you to know” is probably going to be really fucking stupid. Additionally, any diet that tells you to drink green tea or chug acai juice or roll in memberberries to prevent eating more than 500 calories per day is going to make you gain double the weight back in the long run. Your metabolism will actually slow down, so when you do start eating like a human being again, you’ll get fat. Congratulations, idiot.
May all of your diets fail and may you eat like a normal human being. Amen.
Make these 2 detox dinners for your shitty winter body