A few weeks back, I e-mailed my associate editor Chrissa with what I thought was a brilliant idea: let’s all do fad diets that we know are stupid just for the fun of it and then we can write about it for the site! Suddenly, emails started flying around HG headquarters, contributors got involved and a Google spreadsheet was made with some of the nuttiest (and, admittedly, some more down-to-earth) fad diets we could think of. Wanting to be brave and prove myself – for what reason, I’m unsure – I decided to try the baby food diet.
If you’re unfamiliar with the baby food diet, it’s the one they say was responsible for helping Jennifer Aniston drop some pounds (as if she ever needed to) and Reese Witherspoon and Lady GaGa are also rumoured to have taken part. I even found out – unfortunately, after I’d already signed up for it – that the baby food diet was the brainchild of trainer to the stars and Gwyneth Paltrow’s slightly unstable BFF, Tracy Anderson. Uh oh.
It works like this: You eat 14 jars of baby food throughout the day. That’s… basically it. There’s the option to add in one proper meal of lean protein and veg if you’re desperate to chew something, but I wanted to go whole hog and really show what I was capable of – especially since all the other journalists I came across online had quit before dinner on the first day. Ha! Lightweights.
And so, I found myself filling up my virtual shopping cart with nearly 100 jars – enough to last me the full 7 days – of various pureed concoctions. Knowing I wanted to vomit at the mere thought of something like “ham and gravy” in a jar, I steered clear and gravitated more towards simpler foods, like pears, bananas (which Chrissa assured me were “delicious”), sweet potatoes and something called “sweet corn casserole”. A few days later, it arrived at my door and the fun was about to begin:
I’m optimistic upon waking up about this whole affair. I’m up at 5:30am with work to do and a massive box of baby food sitting in the corner of my room, so I’m ready to get this thing started.“Breakfast”, around 7am, is pleasant enough. Apples & Cinnamon with Oatmeal – that’s not so bad! An hour later I get into a jar of peaches and an hour after that, the sweet corn casserole which is vaguely reminiscent of creamed corn, which – while probably a little gross – is really delicious. I pretend it’s creamed corn and think about how nice it would be to be eating some pancakes.
By about 11am (yes, I’m that weak), the hunger starts setting in… as does the headache. I’ve already distracted myself with everything I can think of – all the work I need to do for the morning, sweeping and mopping my floors, washing all my bedding and remaking the bed. Yep, still hungry, and the headache’s getting worse. There are a few jars I’m not looking forward to, but since I have to get through between 12 and 14 of these suckers a day, there’s not much time between them. I’m ready to quit already, but I trudge on. I vow to myself that my dealbreaker is diarrhea. If that sets in, I’m done with this.
Roll on mid-afternoon, when my headache gets so bad that I have to take three Advil, close my curtains and get into bed to try and sleep it off. Three hours later, I wake up in a weird lightheaded daze, the headache still creeping around the edges of my brain. After making it halfway through some whole grain oats with raspberries, I’m down for the count. I cannot eat another spoonful of pureed mush. I go to bed, having only eaten five-and-a-half jars of the daily 14. This does not bode well.
I knew this diet was going to be idiotic. That’s sort of what drew me to it – I’m a bit of a masochist when it’s going to come to humourous ends, so I don’t mind being a guinea pig for the sake of art. Ha! I still have a vague headache and also a pretty wicked case of heartburn upon waking. I’m groggy because I haven’t had any caffeine – which I’m addicted to, I might add – and the 14 newly replaced jars sitting in front of me on the desk are taunting me. Badly. It’s going to be a long, long day.
I go for a jar of pears first. Having had them yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised with just how good they were, so I know I won’t mind having those. I manage another oatmeal, as well, and mid-morning sees me choke down a jar of peas and one of carrots. I love vegetables, so how have they been turned into something so disgusting? The peas – one of my favourites when in their, erm, solid form – are a putrid green that’s beyond unsightly. The carrots are a bright, misleadingly happy orange. They’re disgusting.
I’d love to omit the next part – to tell you that the deluge of nutrients didn’t affect my digestive system, but I’d be lying. I won’t go into graphic detail – I’m a lady, after all – but one thing the baby food diet is guaranteed to do is send you to the bathroom. Several times. For not-so-pleasant trips. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?
By mid-afternoon, I’ve had enough. Looking at the box of baby food – still nearly full to the top – is making me physically depressed. I miss chewing, I miss caffeine, I miss solid stools. It’s time to call it a day on this, I’m afraid.
That evening, I GrubHub a cheeseburger and list the box of baby food on Craigslist for less than 1/2 of what I paid for it. For the record, I still haven’t found a buyer.
It doesn’t even need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: the baby food diet is stupid, unrealistic and completely pointless. It works by virtue of being just another method of portion control (the 14 jars won’t add up to more than 900 – 1,000 calories, generally), which is great and all, but why not just eat fewer calories in real food that you can actually chew and enjoy? That sounds more my style.
Stay tuned every Monday for more diet diaries from HG contributors – it’s going to be an interesting ride…