Saturday 1 October 2016

'I've drank pregnant women's urine and lost no weight'

Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30

Sucker for quack diets: Andrea Smith
Sucker for quack diets: Andrea Smith

Back in my younger days, I tried every fad diet going in my futile quest for skinniness. I was a complete sucker for the delicious promises these quack diets made, thinking I'd look like Cindy Crawford after a week of eating nothing but cabbage or grapefruit.

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The strict Scarsdale diet was a particular favourite in our house at one point, and it was very strict and uncompromising. It was created by cardiologist Dr Herman Tarnower, who was murdered in 1980 by his jilted headmistress lover, Jean Harris. I suppose there's no truth in the rumour that she went mad and killed him after being deprived of chocolate for too long?

I also tried Atkins, which remains my favourite diet of all time, mainly because once you stick to protein and eschew carbohydrates, you can eat all day. I'd graze on cheese, smoked salmon and peanuts and still lose weight, so it's my ultimate favourite regime of a bad bunch.

I once did the HCG diet for a magazine feature, which was medically supervised, and involved a rigorous 500 calories per day taken with drops made from the urine of pregnant women. I tried to conveniently ignore that rather icky part, so I held my nose, knocked them back (they were flavoured with raspberry) and tried not to think about it. I lost a few stones, but the minute I stopped it all went straight back on.

The highly unregulated diet industry of my youth peddled all sorts of myths or downright lies that we lapped up. We could buy diet pills that were basically 'speed' quite freely in the 90s. The first night I took them, I got on my mother's exercise bike and pedalled furiously for hours.

My mind was racing, I hardly slept all week, and I was lucky I didn't have a heart attack on my amphetamine-based pills.

You can't buy them here now, but pills that stimulate the metabolism are freely available online. The Health Products Regularity Authority warns that many contain sibutramine, linked to heart attacks and strokes, but people still buy them.

I recently tried out a few fad diets like the Baby Food Diet, and juicing, to make my upcoming Camino walk easier, and while they definitely show great results short term, they're no good for long-term maintenance.

As with everything designed to make women feel inferior, the majority of fad diets are touted as being "endorsed" by celebrities or their trainers.

How many diets in the past decade have purported to be responsible for Jennifer Aniston's streamlined figure? I can think of at least four. Nothing much has changed, as evidenced by the women flocking to buy The Burn by nutritionist Haylie Pomroy who has worked with JLo and Reese Witherspoon.

Diet has become a dirty word these days so it's had a makeover. Today's fad diets are dressed up as fitness or wellness programmes, so now, as well as being skinny, we expect to acquire Karlie Kloss's abs and Kim Kardashian's bum.

So am I skinny after all these fad diets? No. Did I lose weight? Yes, temporarily, but it went rapidly back on. The boring truth is that if a diet seems too good to be true, sadly, it definitely is.

'I've drank pregnant women's urine and lost no weight'

Irish Independent

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