9 International Fad Diets Too Wacky to Believe
Weird Fad Diets Around the Globe
It seems weight loss is a national pastime in America—and fad diets come in and out of style daily. After all, who hasn't known someone who started out their day with a delicious (?) drink of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon water? Or remember that time we all focused on one decidedly non-diet food to use for our diet—like the cookie diet, the ice cream diet, or the baby food diet? Well, while we've been busy trying every diet strategy under the sun, other countries have been coming up with their own strange diet fads too—with mixed results. Curious what they are? So were we. (And don't forget to check out The 9 Biggest Nutrition Trends of 2015.)
Japan's Long Breath Diet
Japan is possibly the only country that goes through fad diets faster than the U.S. Currently, a popular diet in the land of the rising sun is The Long Breath Diet. It began when founder Ryosuke Miki started doing deep, forced breathing exercises every day to relieve back pain. He noticed that he dropped 28 pounds in the process. And honestly, we can kind of see why. While daily breathing exercises may seem silly, just try them and you'll discover they work your core a lot. (In fact, you can Breathe Your Way to a Fitter Body.) While it's probably not the quick fix most of the ads proclaim it is, this does seem to teach some solid techniques that could be helpful regardless of whether or not you lose weight. And hey, it never hurts to breathe!
China's Sun Eating
You were probably told never to stare at the sun. But adherents of Sun Eating throw that advice right out the window. According to the diet plan, you're to skip one meal to stare directly at the sun for an oddly precise 44 minutes a day. Supposedly, this curbs your appetite, improves sleep quality, and (ironically) improves vision. The theory: Dieters absorb "solar energy," which they use to fuel their bodies. Strangely, dieters are encouraged to cover up their skin so they don't tan, as lighter skin is still coveted in China. Of course, this negates any vitamin D benefits. While the diet does reportedly lead to some weight loss (not eating will do that), experts worry this could spark an eating disorder (and hurt your eyes!). So sit this one out in the shade.
Latin America's Werewolf Diet
Latin ladies looking to drop a few pounds may follow the Werewolf Diet, also known as the Moon Diet, which advises people eat according to the moon's phases. Celebs like Madonna and Demi Moore are reportedly fans of the diet too, which is based on one solid principle: gravity. The idea is that since the human body is mostly made up of water (true) and the moon has been shown to affect water (true, for large bodies of water), then we can take advantage of the gravitational pull of the moon on the water in our bodies to detoxify and lose weight (um, what?). The plan starts with a 24-hour fast during the full moon with an extended version offering instructions of what to eat during each moon phase. While some of the advice is legit—"eat fresh, whole, seasonal fruits and vegetables"—tying it to the moon seems, well, way, way out there.
England's Paintball Diet
Ready, set, run for your life! The wacky Brits behind the Paintball Diet know that nothing gets your heart rate up and burns calories like, oh, being shot at. People are encouraged to eat a healthy, low-calorie meal plan—but the real meat of the diet is herding people into a paintball stadium and telling them to run. The company says four professional marksmen are employed to take aim at slackers and make sure everyone keeps moving. (And if you've ever been shot with a paintball gun, you know those things sting!) The group even removes all traditional shelters from the stadium so there's nowhere to hide. This reportedly allows people to burn 800 to 1,000 calories per hour-long, terrifying session. Extreme and dangerous? We think so.
Mexico's Diet Tongue Patch
The Diet Tongue Patch, invented by Nikolas Chugay, M.D., is a piece of medical-grade mesh that's stitched on the tongue. For six weeks, the device makes it incredibly painful to eat solid foods, so dieters are restricted to a liquid diet of just 800 calories a day. Chugay said the genius of the device isn't the pain, but rather the reminder to be conscious of what you eat, adding that he's done nearly 1,000 procedures. After the patch is removed, he says that people remember the feeling and pay more attention to what they put in their mouths. Experts are not impressed, calling the surgery outrageous, dangerous, and desperate. We agree.
France's Le Petit Secret
French women are famously svelte despite being surrounded by French bread and pastries. But according to health guru Valerie Orsoni, French women have "le petit secret": "We wear a ribbon around the waist and underneath the clothes when we go out for dinner," she said. (Here are 6 Weight Loss Secrets to Steal from French Women.) "It keeps us conscious of the tummy—particularly if the ribbon starts to feel tighter as the evening goes on!" Simple, elegant, with lots of chic options? Yep, sounds French!
Sandwiches are not generally considered "diet food." Meats, cheeses, and fatty spreads piled between two carb-heavy slabs doesn't sound slim. Yet Spanish women swear by their bocadillos, replacing one meal a day with a single sandwich. The trick: Everything you eat for that meal has to fit between two pieces of whole-grain bread. So no chips, soda, pickles, coleslaw, or fries—and especially no desserts. We have to say, this does seem like a neat portion control trick. And who doesn't want to eat more tasty sandwiches? (You can if you just Slim Down Your Sandwich!)
You'd think that Australians would love kangaroos; it's the national animal! And they do—for dinner. "Kangatarianism" is a diet in which the only meat you eat is from the bouncy biped. 'Roo meat is available in every grocery store as fillets, steaks, roasts, burgers, meatballs, and even the hilarious-sounding kanga bangas (i.e. sausages). People say they prefer the meat because kangaroos are easy to raise, kill, and process, so they have a small impact on the environment (unlike cows, which produce more greenhouse gasses than cars). Plus 'roo meat is high in protein and low in calories, making it a popular choice for dieters. And it's pretty tasty. (Yep, tried it!)
Indonesia's OCD Diet
OCD is popular among Indonesian dieters, but it doesn't have anything to do with anxiety. In this case, OCD stands for Obsessive Corbuzier Diet, named after the inventor Deddy Corbuzier. Basically, it's a form of intermittent fasting in which you limit your eating to a small window of four, six, or eight hours. The upside: You can eat whatever you want during that time frame. The downside: You can't eat for 20, 18, or 16 hours each day. For some people, the one big meal a day principle works, and there's some research to back up intermittent fasting. But for many of us, this can lead to bingeing. Your mileage may vary.