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.
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."
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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