For upwards of four years now, I have been testing out various fad diets and writing about my experiences, typically to the detriment of my metabolism, mental stability, and overall health. Sometimes, people enjoy this. Sometimes they tell me to kill myself. It’s a mixed bag, really.
Despite the many things I have written to the contrary, I love doing these diets. I love pushing myself to limits that literally no one asked me to push myself to. I love the adverse reactions I get from people when I explain why I’m buying Grade B Maple Syrup in bulk. But mostly, I just love attention and suffering, so this is truly my calling.
While doing research for my next diet, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of my more outlandish ventures. While this was initially a move of pure procrastination, it made me think that it could be fun to reminisce on the simpler times in my life when I walked around with ice cream in my purse or incited social media rants from unnamed wellness influencers.
Without further ado, here is the ranking of the most ridiculous sh*t I’ve ever put my body through in the name of art.
Full transparency, I loved Keto. I try to still adhere to it, albeit in the loosest terms possible. But in those early days when I had no idea what I was doing, before I truly understood macros or what it meant to measure food, sh*t got weird. How weird, you may ask? Please refer to the photo below of me, sitting on my patio, eating rotisserie chicken straight out of the bag at 9pm on a Tuesday because I had abruptly realized that I was still 790 calories short of my daily goal. This is not an ad for Frank’s Red Hot, but also, I would not be opposed to this being an ad for Frank’s Red Hot. Call me.
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pictured: me at 9PM on a Tuesday night, eating a rotisserie chicken directly out of the bag after I found out that I was still 790 calories short of my daily goal. read all about this & more truly horrifying antics in the latest installment of the Fad Diet Diaries. link in bio.
Keto is a dream once you can break down that mental barrier that tells you that you can’t eat things like butter. If that sounds like an easy feat to you, congrats on never having had an eating disorder. The idea that I was not only allowed, but encouraged, to eat buttery, creamy, fatty foods on a daily basis was so outrageous that for a second I understood the extreme resolve with which Flat Earthers stand by their beliefs. The ground doesn’t curve when you walk on it! Butter is fattening! These are indisputable facts, and I refuse to hear anything to the contrary!
But once you’ve moved past that simple obstacle, life is different. You know how many kinds of cheese are sitting in my fridge at this very moment? Six. SIX. Sure, there hasn’t been bread in my kitchen in months, but SIX KINDS OF CHEESE. It’s liberating, in a way that prison yards are liberating. Like yeah, there’s lots of fresh air and more activities to take part in, but also you’re still being held captive by a system built to deprive you of your humanity.
Diets are bad. Don’t do them.
You would think that a diet that forced me to consume nothing but spicy lemonade for 10 straight days would be further up on the list of stupid things I’ve done, but that’s because you don’t understand the supreme comfort of not having options.
Most of the other diets on this list have a large margin for error. You can unknowingly eat the wrong ingredients or even too much of the right ingredients. You can be tempted by “safe” foods with hidden pitfalls or fool yourself with meaningless words like “moderation.” But that’s not the case with the Master Cleanse, because you’re allowed one thing and one thing only: cayenne lemonade. Two liters of it a day. For 10 days.
There’s no room to justify cheating, because there’s no gray area here. Every day is the same question, a thousand times over. “Is whatever I want to eat in this moment a liter of spicy lemonade? No? Then I can’t have it.” It’s crazy how easy life gets once choice is taken out of the equation. That’s usually a sentiment that dictators in movies use to justify their regimes, but I won’t waste time drawing any parallels there.
I’m gonna do this wack ass crash diet vogue printed in the 70s and die pic.twitter.com/DbHCWBJ4cf
— Open Heart (@Rayoflightray) April 28, 2019
No diet in my entire history of diets has gone off the rails faster than the Cabbage Soup Diet did. It came too early in my career, before I’d broken my will enough to truly understand self-control. Perhaps tackling it today would be a different story, but at the tender age of 23, I was unprepared for what the Cabbage Soup Diet would offer me: too many options.
Remember what I said about the Master Cleanse just few paragraphs up? This is the opposite, in every way. Every day the Cabbage Soup Diet gives you merely a parameter of the things that you can eat, without an inkling of portion sizes. To an adult with the ability to stop themselves from eating an entire flat of blackberries in a day, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. To me, an animal without the foresight to realize the mass outbreak of canker sores that would result from eating that many blackberries in a mere 24 hours, it was a hellscape of my own making.
The Cabbage Soup Diet is not a diet, it’s a social experiment. Some sadistic asshole wrote down on a website designed in 1984, “you can eat three steaks today” and then waited to see if some idiot would actually do it. Well, guess what! That idiot is here! And time has given her the wisdom to fight back! Or at the very least, yell about it on the Internet!
Despite the fact that I willingly opted into this experiment, I still somehow feel like the Cabbage Soup Diet took advantage of me. It’s a sentient being from another universe, sent here to prey on weak-minded people who think eating four bananas a day is something moderately within the realm of healthy behavior. That cursed website is the dieting world’s version of Tom Riddle’s Diary: another second longer and I would have been found in a dungeon, cradling a bucket of mushy vegetable soup. I don’t even know where I’m going with this anymore. F*ck you, Cabbage Soup Diet.
As far as diets go, Whole30 wasn’t that crazy. Sure, I didn’t remotely enjoy it. But, all things considered, it’s not like the premise was insane. In fact I discovered, one of my favorite recipes of all time, a lovely Whole30 compliant Zuppa Toscana, during my 30-day trial. The entire experience was kind of like that time I (accidentally?) ate a bunch of edibles at homecoming senior year of high school and then puked all over my blackberry—it didn’t ruin my life but I’m not exactly in a rush to do it again anytime soon, you know?
So why does Whole30 hold the number two ranking on this coveted list? One that could be taken by Kourtney Kardashian’s godforsaken avocado pudding? For one very important reason, reader: this video.
(Please excuse the recording methodology—my roommate and I are incapable of grasping technology released past the year 1997)
On Monday, March 19th, 2018, the founder of Whole30, one Melissa Hartwig, posted a series of stories to her Instagram. This in itself isn’t out of the ordinary; she’s an influencer, that’s what she does. Except, on this fateful day, these videos were about me.
I think it goes without saying when I tell you that this kind of thing doesn’t usually happen to me. Except for that one time one of the kids from MTV’s Scream retweeted one of my recaps about his show, this is the most public attention I have ever received for my work on social media. I am 100% sincere when I say that I will cherish this series of impassioned statements about what a sh*tty person I am for the rest of my life.
I cannot stress enough to you how often this video gets broken out in my day-to-day life. At work. At bars. In Lyfts. At bars. When I’m home for Christmas. Mostly at bars. Drunk people love this stuff.
The fact that this woman exerted the effort to not only post a swipe-up to my article but then immediately tear it to shreds over the course of five consecutive videos will never cease to delight me. It makes every bloated, exhausted, sober second of Whole30 worth it. Guess I did find that life-changing journey, just not in the way she expected.
Nothing will ever top this, in terms of preparation, dedication, fervor, or absolute insanity. The absolute wildest thing about about the Halo Top Diet was that it’s not even justifiable; eating ice cream for seven days is, despite what I told everyone around me, not a diet. Period. This series is dedicated to the trials and tribulations of documented fad diets, and yet somehow I managed to convince a company, an editor, my friends, my family, and my coworkers that this was a viable idea. To this day, I don’t understand how it happened.
To have known me during the Halo Top Diet is akin to having known someone during war, except only one of you was at war and the other was bemusedly watching from the comfort of their home while eating a hot dog. Also your friend at war kept asking if they could smell your hot dog. Shut up. It’s fine.
Friends of mine still reminisce on the Halo Top Diet like it was a nostalgic era of their youth and not the most surreal seven days of my entire life. Let’s ignore the obvious physical ramifications at play here—do you understand the mental strain you endure when you set out to eat ice cream and nothing else for a week? Can you even grasp it? Let me answer that for you: you can’t. I thought I could, and I was wrong.
After two days, the laws of polite society cease to exist. There is no social norm too big to surmount, no simple civility that you aren’t willing to trample. You transcend faux pas and exist in a serene yet somehow also ominous realm of ultimate inner peace, save the unrelenting headache and constant nagging reminder that every meal you eat for potentially the rest of your life will be cold and sweet.
That realm makes things possible that you would never have believed yourself capable of before. Things like standing in front of your entire office and begging them not to touch the ice cream in the freezer because it is both your breakfast and lunch. Things like looking at a waiter in the eye, saying “I’m good, thanks,” and then pulling a pint of melted ice cream out of your purse to eat in front of them. Things like attempting to pour hot sauce onto your ice cream in a fevered search for something savory, only to be stopped by people who do, in fact, care about your dignity. You know, to name a few.
In short, if you can’t handle me at my Halo Top, you don’t deserve me ever. That’s it. That’s the deal.
Have an idea for a diet that could potentially rival the ones on this list? Leave it in the comment section and I just may hate myself enough to try it.
Images: Giphy (2), Instagram (@marykatefotch, @melissa_hartwig)
Any ice cream that boasts only 240 or so calories for the whole fucking pint demands investigatory journalism. Obviously, Halo Top has been around for a while now, and if you haven’t tried this less-than 300 calorie (usually) wonder, get your shit together. However, not all of Halo Top’s many flavors are created equal. Some really taste like the 60 calories per half cup that they are. That ain’t a compliment. I mean, I get that Ben & Jerry’s will run you about 260 calories for that same half cup, but it also tastes REALLY great. So, we have to find a happy medium. Here is our definitive ranking of some of the best (and some of the shittiest) Halo Top flavors so you can pretend to enjoy your diet.
1. Oatmeal Cookie
I realize that some of you don’t want oatmeal in your dessert, or that you find oatmeal cookies fucking atrocious (especially when you think you’re biting into a chocolate chip cookie and are v unpleasantly surprised). This ice cream does not apply to those rules. This ice cream is fucking amazing. Long live Oatmeal Cookie.
2. Red Velvet
Does it taste like MeeMaw’s super famous Great Depression Red Velvet Cake made with mayonnaise and sadness but still managing to be amazing? No. But it’ll curb the craving since it tastes juuuust enough like subpar Red Velvet cake. If you aren’t from the South, I don’t blame you for skipping this shit, but if you are, this is a great stand-in for your fattening desserts.
When you can see the real vanilla bean flecks, you know that shit is gonna be good. Maybe not as creamy in texture as Breyer’s or Häagen Dazs, but if you’re looking for healthy fucking ice cream, you have to cut the happiness somewhere. Given, vanilla is boring AF, but we have to give some RESPEK to the fact that this can go up against the best of the best in the freezer aisle and not suck. This works GREAT with mix-in’s like crushed candy bars and Oreos if you aren’t ready to embrace diet ice cream, tho.
4. Candy Bar
Easily one of the best new flavors, Candy Bar Halo Top is reminiscent of a Snickers bar, which, like, does anyone NOT like Snickers? If so, please let me know in the comments and I will alert the proper authorities. The base of this Halo Top flavor is chocolatey and nougat-like, and rivers of caramel and chocolate live in harmony with the honey roasted peanuts throughout. I should quit my job to pursue poetry. Fun fact: this works well in a affogato with espresso poured over. Now you know a new word. Google it.
5. Mint Chip
Mint chip is refreshing as fuuuuuck. It isn’t the perfect, minty fresh chocolatey shit you expect from Breyer’s (bless), but it does have a fab mixture of white chocolate and peppermint that works well on its own or with some vodka in a blender. You heard it here first.
6. Birthday Cake
There are diehard fans of this Halo Top flavor, and for good reason. It was one of the OG flavors, and the base literally tastes like cake batter so you can FEEL like you’re being bad and licking the bowl of a freshly baked cake when rly you’re sitting in sweatpants and sadly eating a pint of diet ice cream alone LOL!
7. Cinnamon Roll
Cinnamon roll chunks plus brown sugar plus more cinnamon plus vanilla glaze = I would eat this ice cream for breakfast. I have eaten this ice cream for breakfast. Judge me. If you disagree, you’re wrong. It’s like all the best aspects of Cinn-A-Bon in a creamy, frozen freezer treat. Now you can feel like you’re stuck in LaGuardia after your 8am flight has been delayed four times and you’ve finally given in and gotten Cinn-A-Bon. Yay!
1. Chocolate Covered Banana
If it isn’t an actual banana but is banana-flavored, it will taste like shit. That’s a fact of life. This tastes like a big fake banana covered in minimal fake chocolate. Only bananas can work banana flavor. Everything else is fake news.
2. Chocolate Mocha Chip
Since the chocolate from Halo Top isn’t like, amazing anyway, adding coffee doesn’t help—which is shocking because adding coffee to anything (cake, brownies, alcohol, depression) is usually an immediate fix. The chips are very small and sad, the coffee is more bitter than me at work on a Monday, and the whole thing tastes v artificial. I assume this would be great if I mixed it with real ice cream, tho.
It just doesn’t taste right. While the fruitier and lighter (or even layered) flavors are easier to get away with, the pure, legit essence of chocolate just doesn’t really work when it’s under 300 calories. This tastes like the reason Europeans hate us and our shitty, shitty milk chocolate. I certainly don’t want to be part of something that makes me unlikable. PASS.
Too much nut flavor, not enough actual nuts. (That’s what she said, I’m not sorry). Just get some actual pistachio gelato if you need a fix this bad. Who eats pistachio flavored anything under the age of 65? I thought pistachio pudding and ice cream was something they gave old folks as a special Friday surprise in the home.
5. Green Tea Mochi
If I want green tea, I’ll make some or pop one of those belly fat burning pills, which I assume taste like green tea. This tastes like grass and shitty perfume, which works if you’re vegan and feel no joy anyway. Fight me.
6. Pancakes And Waffles
Who did this? It’s an abomination. It does taste like maple syrup, so good job there. However, there’s a sorta weird buttery undertone that is just a hard no from me. If I want a buttery dessert, I’m gonna go ahead and eat pound cake with real ice cream on top. When you’re diving into a pint of diet ice cream, it isn’t really the time to get caught up in butter and syrup and carbs.
Meh. Who even eats this? It smells like a fake strawberry should taste, if that makes any sense. If it doesn’t, buy a pint and see what I mean. It’s like, yah, it’s strawberry, but also, it’s a weird loser pretending to be strawberry.
Yell at me about how I missed your fav flavor in the comments. Bitch.
Images: Giphy (2); Amazon (12); Walmart (2)
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.