What is it about a new year that compels us to be entirely differently people?
Come January 1st, many of us craft ambitious plans to overhaul our lives, namely in the realms of diet and fitness (and no, we don’t judge you if you’ve already broken yours). New Year’s resolutions that I’ve made over the years include, but are not limited to: Get a butt. Lose some butt. Chew food 50 times before swallowing. Lose 20 pounds without amputation. Eat more kale. Eat only kale. Do 100 squats a day. Do 100 squats a week. Do one push-up by the end of the year, etc., etc., etc. Nothing has ever lasted, of course, yet every year I’m tempted by the calls to start fresh, press reset and pretend I’m the kind of person who believes that whole grains are more delicious than processed white flour.
I haven’t set any nutty resolutions for 2017 – surviving the year is my primary goal – but I am looking for a health boost. I want more energy, and, sure, if that brings me closer, aesthetically, to Gisele Bündchen, I will accept it. So, I tested out five of the wackiest, most-buzzed-about celebrity diet tricks and trends for a day each to report back to you what is worth your time (and what will make you so gassy you’ll alienate yourself from everyone you’ve ever loved).
The Diet: Baby Food for Two Meals a Day
Celebrity Backers: Camila Alves
The Deal: Alves revealed to Delish that the secret to her hot bod is … swapping some meals with baby food. “I did a cleanse, and there were a lot of puréed meals, and my body just agreed with it,” she said. “I was getting really swollen in my stomach area, so I felt my digestive system needed a break. It wasn’t realistic to do all puréed meals, so I do a combination.” For my experiment, I would swap two meals a day with puréed baby food.
How My Day Went: The night before, I went to the supermarket to stock up on a wide variety of mush flavors: chicken rice dinner, cinnamon apple, macaroni and beef, and sweat pea. I noticed a super hot guy was standing behind me in line, and I wanted to turn around and explain, “I don’t have any babies; this baby food is for me!” But then I realized that if this guy couldn’t learn to love me and my imaginary babies, then he wasn’t worth my time. (I also didn’t have the emotional energy to explain to him why I, a 26-year-old adult woman, was buying baby food for herself on New Year’s Eve.) The first morning, after sucking down a sweet blend of carrot and apple, I caved. Immediately. That’s right: After just one meal of eating a fairly pleasant, sweet apple-cinnamon mush, I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. I needed real food. So, I tried again the next day. I swallowed my baby breakfast and went for a run.
For lunch, I craved something savory, so I opened the “chicken rice dinner” jar. The dog food smell assaulted me. I gagged so loudly that my roommate thought I was having a meltdown, which was true. I looked at the first ingredients of the so-called chicken and rice feast: carrots and water. The third ingredient was ground chicken. There was no seasoning. It was horrific. That night for dinner, now able to eat real human food as I’d checked off my two baby food meals, I ordered enough Chinese food for a family of seven and ate every last shred of it.
Difficulty on a Scale of 1 (I Feel Great!) to 10 (It Ruined My Life!): 7. I like biting and chewing my food!
Conclusion: When you restrict yourself so fundamentally, it’s only natural your body will lash out at you, and you’ll end up binging on something unhealthy, as I did on my first day. If you have strong self-discipline, try it. Just make sure to splurge on higher quality baby food than I did. You’re worth it.
The Diet: Smoked Salmon and Capers, All Day Every Day
Celebrity Backer: Mariah Carey
The Deal: The diet is simple: You exclusively eat capers and smoked salmon. In a recent interview with E! News, Carey said that the two foods are all she eats. “It’s really hard. All I eat is Norwegian salmon and capers every day,” she said with a laugh. “That’s it!” Seeing as the superstar revealed her diet “with a laugh,” we assume she was sort of kidding … but I’m already emotionally committed to smelling really unpleasant and punctuating every sentence with “I don’t know her.” My only modification to this diet was the allowance of coffee, as Carey only referred to what she eats and didn’t say anything about drinking. Loophole!
How My Day Went: I love smoked salmon and capers, so I figured this would be one of the easier ones. Breakfast – a pack of high-end smoked salmon – was delicious. Lunch – a pack of high-end smoked salmon with a side of capers – was delicious, too. Throughout the workday, I felt full and energized, though smelled strongly of fish, which I didn’t hate, but you’d have to ask my coworkers how they experienced it. Another bonus: The saltiness of the diet forced me to drink several cups of water over the course of the day, so I stayed much more hydrated than I normally do.
Difficulty on a Scale of 1 (I Feel Great!) to 10 (It Ruined My Life!): 5. If you splurge on nice salmon, it’s a treat! Though it’s pretty devastating not to eat the salmon alongside all the traditional fixins’: bagels, cream cheese, red onion, tomato, etc.
Conclusion: I wouldn’t recommend exclusively eating smoked salmon and capers any longer than one day, as scurvy is a very real and serious affliction (you know, among other things). But if you love smoked salmon and capers and want to get your lifetime supply of Omega-3s in one fell swoop, this diet plan is for you. Just make sure you don’t have any plans to socialize during the day because it’s sort of awkward to bring a pack of smoked salmon along on, say, a date. Awkward, yes … but not unheard of. Another story for another time.
The Diet: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen’s Whole Thing
Celebrity Backers: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen
The Deal: Their “whole thing” is complicated for several reasons. To start, Tom Brady claims to have never consumed coffee in his life (!!), which is why the no-caffeine part of their regimen is easy for him. Other elements of their diet: Avoid “nightshade” plants, which includes a slew of random but essential ingredients like peppers, eggplants, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes. According to their personal chef, their diet consists of roughly 80 percent vegetables, and the rest is lean protein. No white flour or sugar. Oh, and no strawberries, for reasons I still don’t understand. Did I mention no caffeine? NO COFFEE. There. Is. No. Coffee. None. Nope. HOW.
How My Day Went: POORLY. Representative incident: I snapped at my dad for saying “hi” to me. But the day started off well: I had a bowl of fruit and herbal tea for breakfast, which made me feel skinny, beautiful and important. Then, I got to work, and for the first few minutes, I thought, Huh, I might not need coffee. Maybe Tom Brady and I have been kindred spirits this whole time. And then the headache arrived. And then, by 9:15 a.m., I was starving, fantasizing about eggs and bagels and eggs on bagels. At 11:30 a.m., I allowed myself lunch; I broiled some flounder with herbs and olive oil, which I ate alongside kale sautéed with garlic. While satiating, the meal had a depressing lack of oomph. (Oomph is bread, FYI.)
Fortunately, I stayed full for hours, so didn’t feel compelled to snack … but I was exhausted and mean. I wanted to go for a quick run in the afternoon, but the premise of getting off the couch made my headache worse. I sat put and ate more fruit. For dinner, my parents took me to a Vietnamese restaurant to celebrate my last day in town for the holidays. I ordered a grilled chicken breast and a small portion of white rice, which I ate with a side salad that required me to pick around the bell peppers, which are off-limits. The meal was delicious, but not following it with frozen yogurt, which is sold RIGHT NEXT to the Vietnamese place, was devastating and made my holiday season significantly less magical.
Difficulty on a Scale of 1 (I Feel Great!) to 10 (It Ruined My Life!): 6. If I were interested in losing weight, this would be the way to do it. It’s not even that hard if you do enough supermarket prep and cancel all plans to hang out with people. Lean protein, lots of veggies (except for nightshades), no refined flour or sugar … actually I change my mind; this is impossible.
Conclusion: It’s true: Eating more vegetables and protein will make you feel fuller longer, so you’ll do less mindless snacking. Yet I felt drained, emotionally and physically, all day. If I were to do this for a week, maybe my body would adapt to the lack of caffeine and Twizzlers. But for a day, it was brutal.
The Diet: Hot Lemon Water Right After You Wake Up
Celebrity Backers: Elle MacPherson, Lauren Conrad, Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr
The Deal: This one is more of a tip/trick than a full-fledged diet. Every morning when you wake up, have a cup of warm water with fresh lemon juice. That’s right. No Pop-Tarts. No coffee. Lemon juice and hot water first thing. Apparently, the mixture helps with digestion; the acid in lemon juice “works with the body to nourish and to enhance proper function,” Roxanne Sukol, MD, a preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, told Yahoo Health.
How My Day Went: An essential part of my morning is coffee and eggs. I will never, EVER be one of those people who is “never really hungry in the morning” or “always skips breakfast.” No matter how much I eat the night before, I wake up starving … and angry, and coffee and eggs are the only way to make it better. Breakfast is everything to me. Which is why prepping myself a caffeine-free, egg-free meal of hot water and lemon was … disappointing. But the taste was surprisingly pleasant, and the concoction did keep me fuller longer than I’d expected. I felt less of an impulse to snack mindlessly throughout the day.
Difficulty on a Scale of 1 (I Feel Great!) to 10 (It Ruined My Life!): 3. The drink didn’t make me feel instantly Paltrow’ed, but it also didn’t make me feel actively bad. If I were someone who didn’t love/cherish breakfast, I could see myself making hot lemon water a routine. Since I do love/cherish breakfast, I’ll sip a cup on those afternoons I’m compelled to eat Cheez-Its recreationally.
Conclusion: If you’re looking to curb mindless snacking, or sneak more vitamin C into your diet, or simply know that your mornings begin the same way that Elle Macpherson and Lauren Conrad’s do, definitely try this.
The Diet: Sort of Low-Carb
Celebrity Backer: Chrissy Teigen
The Deal: The supermodel, cookbook author and Shake Shack/Doritos/Waffle House obsessive could never forgo carbs entirely, but she tries to limit them, when doable, and still eat as much delicious food as she possibly can. “I’ve always had to watch myself. My family is not naturally thin, and we put on weight quickly. I find low-carb works for me,” she told Women’s Health UK in 2015. And, judging by her Instagram, Teigen still eats a healthy amount of carbs.
How My Day Went: It was incredible. Not heeding to a super restrictive set of rules (ahem, “avoid this list of random vegetables!”) made me feel happier and more comfortable, and I think life is supposed to be happy and comfortable, for the most part. For breakfast, I met up with my friends at a diner and ordered a veggie omelet with a side of home fries and toast. I only had three bites of the toast and two bites of the home fries. While not finishing my entire plate is incredibly out-of-character for me (finishing the whole plate is, like, 90 percent of my personality), I was satiated from the omelet and happy to be out and about catching up with my friends, rather than eating baby food in bed like a deranged recluse. For lunch, I made myself a Cobb salad with avocado, egg, turkey and bacon. The meal was so filling that I almost didn’t miss the seven slices of bread with which I typically accompany my salads.
Difficulty on a Scale of 1 (I Feel Great!) to 10 (It Ruined My Life!): 1. This is worth a try! If you’re someone who doesn’t like to impose major restrictions on yourselves, adopting a low-key plan to eat fewer carbs (when possible) is relaxed and completely doable. Especially if you don’t beat yourself for the occasional slip-up, like eating pasta in bed, which happens to each and every one of us!
Conclusion: This is the only sustainable diet of the bunch, in my opinion. Except the lemon water thing? But coffee is so much better.