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7 of the Worst Health Tips We've Seen on Pinterest

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Since launching in 2010, Pinterest has evolved into so much more than a place to post handicrafts, DIY projects and dream homes. These days, it's also a top online destination for those looking to lose weight and embrace a healthy lifestyle. You can find thousands of inspirational pins linking to nutritious recipes, effective workouts and motivational quotes. Pinterest can be a great complement to the SparkPeople community.

Most of the time.

Like any free social media network, Pinterest isn't always a reliable resource. For every handful of high-quality, expert-endorsed pins, there are likely to be a couple of bad apples with false, exaggerated or possibly even harmful information. If something sounds like it could be damaging, dangerous or just too good to be true, don't try it unless you've vetted it with a trusted professional.

Among the thousands of pins available, these seven specifically should be avoided at all costs. You've been warned.

Mono Meals: The "Freelee Banana Girl"

This Australian mono-meal advocate eats 2,500 to 5,000 calories a day, mainly consisting of single-fruit meals, to maintain her slim physique—but is it a healthy approach to weight loss?

Why It's Bad: The simplicity and low calories of the mono diet may be alluring, but experts agree that eating the same thing for every meal isn't a healthy or sustainable weight loss strategy. To lose weight safely and sustainably, you need to provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform activities of daily life, which includes a variety of nutrients plus protein, fat and carbohydrates. While it certainly takes the guesswork out of meal planning, that might be its only benefit—experts caution that the mono diet can lead to a metabolic slowdown, malnourishment and loss of energy.

Cardiac Diet: Lose 33 Pounds in 15 Days

Supposedly designed for patients going into surgery who needed to drop pounds quickly before their procedure, the so-called "cardiac diet" claims to trigger a weight loss of up to 33 pounds in 15 days.

Why It's Bad: Doctors agree that any weight-loss program labeled as "easy," "quick" or "extreme" is not likely to be healthy or sustainable. Becky Hand, a registered dietitian nutritionist with SparkPeople, recommends losing at a pace of one to two pounds weekly, which is five times slower than the diet recommended here. And weight-loss therapist Dr. Candice Seti warns about the drawbacks and dangers of using "quickie" weight-loss plans of poor nutritional quality. "Rapid weight loss schemes are almost always unhealthy and not maintainable," she says.

How to Wear a Waist Trainer

Waist trainers are 1950s-inspired, corset-style undergarments marketed as a quick way to "whittle" away your waistline. Programs are popping up all over the internet with day-to-day guidelines for "safely" using them to achieve a smaller midsection.


Why It's Bad: Not only do experts dispel the myth that these torturous-looking garments actually reduce the size of the waistline, they warn that they could do permanent damage to internal organs. In fact, some blogs have shared images of how waist trainers compress the stomach, intestine and colon, which can lead to a multitude of dangers ranging from impaired digestion, blood clots and difficulty breathing.

Thigh Gap

This pin claims to offer a series of exercises that, when performed every day, could supposedly help obtain what's known as a "thigh gap." Yes, it's just as it sounds: a visible space between the thighs. Through the power of social media, the idea of achieving the thigh gap became synonymous with the epitome of being thin or petite.


Why It's Bad: While we certainly have no qualms with the basic exercises listed on the pin (and, in fact, do many of them ourselves here at SparkPeople), we do have a big problem with encouraging women (or men, for that matter) to aspire to unrealistic and unhealthy body image standards, including the thigh gap. Just a quick internet search reveals that desirable body traits such as this one are unattainable for many due to genetics and bone structure. More concerning is that an obsession with the impossible can lead to negative body image issues or even an eating disorder.


Military Diet: Lose 10 Pounds in Just 3 Days

Followers of the military diet adhere to a strict diet for three days in an attempt to lose weight quickly. The linked page also advocated "exercising as much as you can" while sticking to the low-calorie diet.

Why It's Bad: Beyond the likelihood of regaining any weight lost as soon as the diet ends, Toby Amidor, nutrition expert and author of "The Greek Yogurt Kitchen," points out that the diet could actually be dangerous. "The listed acceptable foods have no rhyme or reason, and if someone was to follow this plan for a long period of time, it could possibly result in insufficient nutrient intake." Hand agrees, noting that the diet does not instill healthy habits for long-term success.

3-Day Detox Diet

Advocates of this three-day detox diet promise that by limiting yourself to just five foods, you could lose weight and get clearer skin.


Why It's Bad: While the specific foods in this diet—blueberries, Greek yogurt, spinach, red onion and almonds—aren't unhealthy themselves, the mindset behind a detox diet doesn't lend itself to a long-term healthy lifestyle. According to Hand, any weight lost by restricting certain foods and drinking specific beverages will primarily be from water loss and dehydration, and will not be permanent.

"There is no medical evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body," Hand says. "And although they are not necessarily unsafe, they are far from being nutritious and healthy for the body. They are a terrible way to lose weight."

Colon Cleansing

This site claims that by cleansing the colon with this "miracle juice," you can lose weight, prevent fluid retention and promote easier digestion.


Why It's Bad: Put simply, Hand says the colon doesn't need to be cleansed, and that doctors advise against it. "These cleanses can disrupt the normal functioning and balance of the large intestine, resulting in electrolyte imbalances, diarrhea, dehydration and damage to the protective bacteria in the large intestine," she warns. Hand says it's best to let the body purify itself, which happens naturally when eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
What terrible tips have you seen on social media? Share them in the comments!

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KHALIA2 4/30/2019
Great article! Report
RCLYKE 4/28/2019
Thank you. great info Report
MOSLEYG1 4/20/2019
Thanks no more DIETS for me just plain old fashion healthy eating Report
SXB990 3/29/2019
Great article Report
FOREVER_AGAPE 12/26/2018
Gotta be carefeul, guess you could get dangerous dieting! Report
ROBBIEY 10/23/2018
interesting info Report
KACEYSW 10/20/2018
Thanks for the heads-up. Report
NANAW12001 10/12/2018
Thanks. Report
I thank you so much! One of my doctors told me that I needed the "thigh gap" and it has remained on my mind. I'm going to forget it now. Report
MBPP50 10/12/2018
Thank you Report
GETULLY 10/11/2018
We would not fall for these things if we were not so impatient. I am trying to teach myself that slow works in many things. Report
EO4WELLNESS 10/5/2018
If this article were a fable it would end with: never kick discernment and/or good research to the curb. Report
KATHYJO56 9/30/2018
Great article Report
REBAAA1993 9/17/2018
For the past 3 years I have been affiliated with a company that advocates Clean Eating, and a 30 day plan to get you established. As you said, it is all about eating good, nutritious food that gives your body what it needs to operate in full health. Our society is so 'instant' focused that many folks don't want to take the hard road, even though it can mean a better, more full, life in the long run. Thank you for addressing this issue of fad diets. Report
CMB113 9/16/2018
One of the worst diets I seen is the "Eat What You Want During The Week But Fast On The Weekend (only drink water)". Report
JAMER123 9/12/2018
I have never gone for a "fad" diet. It's seems to good to be true, it probably is!!
Thanks for sharing. Report
KITTYHAWK1949 9/11/2018
hard to believe how many people go for these type diets. I remember my mom and me doing a banana diet back when I was a teen. Glad SP is here to set things straight Report
SUSIEMT 9/11/2018
Great article, hopefully none of us sparkers will try any of them. Report
LIS193 9/11/2018
Thanks Report
GFMOMOF5 9/11/2018
This is a great article and a reminder to me to discuss these types of false claims with my teenage daughters. They both love to try things they find on Pinterest and other places online. I remember doing the same thing with magazine articles when I was a teen. Most of it is fun and harmless - snack recipes, crafts, and beauty tips. But these ridiculous diet and exercise claims are mixed in with the fun girly stuff. I need to remind them that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is no shortcut to a lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising sensibly! Report
PATRICIA-CR 9/11/2018
What it's difficult to understand is how people can still fall for all of this crap. Report
It's not just the internet. These horrible health tips can be found in every single one of the grocery store rags you see at checkout. They all say the same thing, shed weight fast. lose 10 pounds in 10 days. In Woman's World magazine, there is an article that praising the grapefruit diet. The title is,"The grapefruit diet hack that blasts belly fat in days". It says that if you do the grapefruit diet, you can lose 9 pounds in 7 days. You eat a half a grapefruit at every meal.

What makes the grocery store rags bad is that they all say "Dr Oz" endorses X, Y or Z diet. I stopped watching Dr Oz ages ago because he showcased far too many of these hack diets.

What makes me feel bad is how many people believe these tips work. Too many people are still looking for a quick fix. Report
97MONTY 9/11/2018
Thanks for the warnings Report
CECELW 9/11/2018
I wish I could say I am amazed how gullible can be, but i'm not surprised at all. We didn't get overweight over night, we're not going to be able to lose weight over night. Some people can become so desperate, they are illogical. Quick fix writters are not interested in your health. We have no face in their mind. They won't care. Report
AZMOMXTWO 9/11/2018
thank you Report
NANCYANNE55 9/11/2018
Thank you SO MUCH! Virtually all of the diets you listed (in particular "cleansing" diets) make me crazy! Report
TUBLADY 9/11/2018
I would hope that Spark member are smarter than to fall for any of these fads. But , there's always a but, some people just want a quick answer and will try almost anything, In the long run they will discover that it's not the way to go. Hopefully no damage and they will find a sensible eating plan and exercise programs is the answer. Spark On.!!! Report
TERMITEMOM 9/11/2018
There are no miracles... Report
The Cardiac diet and Military diet are the same thing. Funny, people will never stop looking for the 'miracle' solution to losing weight when the answer is usually as easy as careful with what you eat in the first place. Unless there is a medical condition that could be influencing weight, balanced, healthy meals in appropriate portion size is the best approach to long-term success Report
SPINECCO 9/11/2018
Great advice. Report
SUNNY_JAE 9/11/2018
Thanks Report
REDROBIN47 9/11/2018
Thanks for the alert Report
DEBVNE 9/11/2018
Wow, if you’re gullible enough to believe any of the pins you’ve included in this article...yikes. Clearly loads of misinformation and bad information abound. It’s our responsibility to research, review, and use our own best judgment. Report
EMGERBER 9/11/2018
We look for and hope for a quick answer to losing weight but know that these kinds of diets are not goof for our health. Thanks for this great article. Report
NEPTUNE1939 9/11/2018
TY Report
MBPP50 9/11/2018
Thank you Report
There isn't a quick fix to anything.....especially your health. Report
AMYRCMK 9/11/2018
Thank you Report
-POOKIE- 9/11/2018
People are ALWAYS ready to look for a quick answer rather than the answer being hard work! Report
ETHELMERZ 9/11/2018
Why doesn’t Pinterest remove those stupid posts? Just as in the “old” days,these kinds of eating plans are aimed at the simple minded and undereducated souls. The vinegar farce was begun back in the 1930’s, when companies that processed vinegar were going out of business, so ad agencies made up the nonsense uses, even laughing about them. Report
I don't have a Pinterest account, so that was interesting! Report
MIYAMO 9/9/2018
As far as "dieting" I listen to my doctor and SparkPeople. Report
KATIBUG49 9/8/2018
Interesting article! Report
GABY1948 9/8/2018
thanks Report
This article just goes to show that people will take or do ANYTHING {even unhealthy diets and such} to lose the weight instead of following the basic eat clean and exercise daily. Sparkpeople has shown me that just doing the RIGHT things like tracking my food and exercise {plus the mindful eating healthy foods } WILL help you LOSE the weight! Report
SUNSET09 9/6/2018
As my Mom would say, We need to know these things for ourselves, SparkFriends. We are not looking for temporary fixes or things that put us in worst conditions when we're trying to be the best we can be. Report
MSCHERYL10 9/6/2018
Some of these diets are outrageous, lol, the thigh gap diet and the "cardiac" diet, SMH Report
Some of these are crazy. How could you possibly think that eating JUST ONE food would be healthy? Report
1SUZIQ11 9/5/2018
Weird ideas out there Report
I see a lot of posts on the apple cider vinegar drink and also lately, adding baking soda to your water as ways to "melt the pounds off." Do you have any comment on that? I've tried it (just in my morning water) but it doesn't really do anything. Report
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