Heganism, And Six Other Weird Fad Diets

by SUSANNAH LONG · March 26, 2010

Looking to try out a fad diet in a desperate attempt to get ready for bikini season? Allow us to introduce you to heganism. What are Hegans? We're so glad you asked...-

The Boston Globe wants you to know that Hegans are menfolk who follow a vegan diet to prove that they are studly. Or, you know, maybe hegans are just vegans who are also men. Whatever, it's a trend now! And, in fact, we can see how eschewing animal products might make you feel like a Guy's guy. Beer and many potato chip brands don't have any animal products. Neither does porn. Usually.

Here are the bestest drastic diets, often motivated more by philosophy or feelings or very slender brain cells than by nutrition.

The Cotton Ball Diet!

[Photo from PineappleWords]

What the Hell? Eat cotton balls. Too dry? Soak them in gelatin. They'll fill your stomach up with poofy goodness, and they're full of fiber. Shhhh don't tell me it's not the right kind of fiber shhhhh. But Who Would Do That? Will Ferrell in Elf; Small girl who appeared on Oprah; Supermodels (allegedly)

Oh, supermodels, you can't trick us into thinking you're not tucking away the cotton.

Does It Work? Yes, if by "work," you mean "give you an intestinal blockage."

The Raw Food Diet!

What the Hell? We've all heard of this from the pages of glossy magazines and the glossed lips of certain kinda crunchy, pretty skinny girls. Raw foodies follow a vegan diet in which no food has been heated above 116 degrees, which they believe provides you with a greater energy intake than you would by eating cooked food. Raw warriors claim that cooking breaks down necessary enzymes in foods; scientists point out that our bodies produce many enzymes on their own.

In practice, elaborate substitutes replace traditional foods: Ravioli dough is made from turnips, cashews replace cheese in soups, and seven thousand different ingredients are mashed together to make "beans."   Raw food restaurants rely on an arsenal of special ovens, exotic ingredients, and culinary school-trained skill to supply a wide selection of delicious foodstuffs, but on your own, you're gonna be picking mainly spinach out of your teeth. But Who Would Do That? My friend Monica. And she makes really good guacamole. Does It Work? Depends on which raw foods you're eating. The diet does involve lots of fresh fruit and veggies, which only a handful of scowling chocolate execs think are unhealthy. Just make sure to supplement your protein and vitamin intake, as you would with any vegan diet.

The Cabbage Soup Diet!

[Photo via Monzy]

What the Hell? This classic option entails a diet of cabbage soup - and only cabbage soup - for seven days. But you can eat as much cabbage soup as you want, so huzzah! Even the Cabbage Soup Diet official website notes that you shouldn't do it for longer, and that it's only a prelude to more moderate weight loss. But Who Would Do That? Lots of brides who can't fit into their wedding dresses on the tv show Bridezillas. Does It Work? For short term weight loss, it often does, although the lost weight may be only water weight.

Breatharianism! (aka Inedia!)

Breatharian Ellen Greves

What the Hell? This is the ultimate diet or, well, "diet." Don’t eat anything. It’s really easy. Just don’t eat. You hear me? Don’t. Practitioners claim that they have no need to consume food - or sometimes even water - because they derive all of their energy from the sun and air. But Who Would Do That? Various gurus and purported cult leaders: Ellen Greves, an enormous advocate of Breatharianism, ran into some trouble. In a 1999 article with London paper The Express, she is quoted as saying, "I can go for months and months without having anything at all other than a cup of tea. My body runs on a different kind of nourishment." That same year, Graves volunteered for a monitoring study, but the experiment was discontinued after the observing scientists noted she was severely dehydrated and in danger of kidney failure. Further oopses in Grave's career include the fact that interviewers found her pantries well-stocked, though she claimed the food was for her non-breatharian hubbby. (On a side note, Graves believes her DNA has expanded from 2 to 12 strands to absorb more hydrogen. She's not keen on having a blood test to prove that claim, though.)

Our other favorite breatharian is Wiley Brooks, who claims to have lived on only tea, coffee, and buttermilk since 1985 . . . except when he consumes a McDonalds Double Quarter-Pounder With Cheese and a Diet Coke, which he claims are made of "liquid light," and are thus a necessary part of his lifestyle. Does it work? It's anorexia. So yes, it will make you lose weight. At least three of those who attempted the "diet" have died as a result of their efforts.

I think after school specials have taught us all the reasons why this, along with bulimia, are terrible ideas. (Calista Flockhart was in one! Seriously.) We'd feel like awful human beings,though, if we didn't post a link to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Oh, hello Calista:

The Chewing Diet! (aka The Mega-Bite!)

What The Hell? This Edwardian technique is based on the idea that excessive chewing makes your stomach rumbly and your guts inefficient. So chew each bite at least 32 times, tilt your head back, and  - and believe us, our darlings, we can barely type these words - let the macerated food trickle down your throat. But Who Would Do That? Horace Fletcher, who is totally coincidentally the inventor of The Chewing Diet. Also, Danny Tanner on Full House makes his kids chew a lot in one episode. Does It Work? Possibly. Since slowing the pace of eating can allow your body to register fullness earlier, you might eat less. Also, this diet is nast, and you will come to associate eating with mandible soreness, boredom, and despair. Winner.

The Tapeworm Diet!

We can't even stomach pictures of this one. So we've chosen a kitten. Kittens probably hate tapeworms.

What The Hell? This brilliant plan first began appearing in advertisements in the 1920s. A tapeworm, if allowed to inhabit one's intestines, can take care of the excess food when you overeat. In the early 20th century, desperate dieters could even buy pills containing immature specimens of the worms. But Who Would Do That? Jockeys, flappers Does It Work? We're not going to go into the horrifying, Alien-like side effects. We don't even care. Just reading about this is a sweet appetite supressant.