The Alternate Day Diet: not an alternative.

In an ideal world we would all have paid attention to health guru Gillian McKeith and other proponents of a healthy lifestyle and realised that the only acceptable and non-dangerous way of achieving our optimal weight is to eat natural wholefoods and introduce an enjoyable and achievable routine of exercise into our lives. What I’m talking about is a sustainable method of eating such as the plant-based diet and yoga and/or swimming and/or walking. We’d have realised that the planet provides what food we need in the format we need it, exactly as it does for every other species on the planet. We’d remember that when it comes to eating, as a species we are not nearly as ‘special’ as we like to think and that the processed, treated, ravaged ‘food’ that we put into our poor bodies is wrong for us and doesn’t provide the nutrients that we need to properly sustain our minds and bodies to their fullest.

Skinny girl, normal girl

An eating disorder - it's just what I always wanted.

That’s awful news because what most of us want to hear is that there is a new ‘diet’ book/pill/technique/magical secret that will allow us to eat what we want, when we want and still lose weight. We want secret pills that let us eat three Snickers bars dipped in cheese when we’ve argued with our boyfriends, enough Dunkin’ Donuts to feed a small family when we’ve been shouted at at work, and a pizza big enough for two, garlic bread and chicken wings followed by a dessert and coffee and half a bottle of champagne, oh and some petit fours when we are celebrating. And a packet of Twinkies.

So what we are really after is a method that will allow us to eat ‘foods’ that are toxic to our bodies without putting on weight. The focus always on weight and never on health.

The alternate day diet - not that good

The Alternate-day Diet - alternatively you could eat normally

One diet that fits such a remit and that has gained interest in recent years is the Alternate-day Diet. A diet also known a ‘part-time anorexia’ which should be enough to put almost everyone except the completely self loathing off from the word ‘no’.

The diet recommends a pattern of eating that includes one crazy day of bingeing followed by a day of almost starving yourself to near death. A bit like an eating disorder then. That sounds fun. And dangerous.

Dr James B Johnson is the genius we have to thank for this new form of self torture. The diet has already received criticism by health professionals who declared it physically and mentally damaging. A bit like an eating disorder then.

The Alternate-day Diet - binge eating woman

The Alternate-day Diet - Day 1.

So the premise of the diet is that the lucky fatso gets to eat whatever they want on a binge day – absolutely no food is off limits. I can see dieters enjoying this day. Whatever you want! It’s a dream come true. This is what all us fatties have been trying to manifest for years. Bring it on baby. When can I start? Where do I sign?

And then the following day, the poor SOAB gets to eat, well… she doesn’t get to eat much at all. A pathetic 300 to 500 calories a day. Which sounds gruelling at best. For the first few weeks this massive amount of calories must be consumed in the form of protein shakes. Hmm…slightly less appealing, no? I think I’m already depressed. Spend half of your life wishing half of it away and the other half eating. Overcompensating on one day knowing that the next day will be awful. That’s an eating disorder. On the binge days you need no self control whatsoever and the following day you need the willpower of a very determined hunger striker who’d happily die than abandon their cause. That’s yo-yo dieting. And has been proven to be what makes people fat in the first place.

The Alternate-day Diet

The Alternate-day Diet - day 2. Go on, spoil yourself.

One day you can eat chips, gateau, ice cream, cookies, beer and hot dogs, deep fried cheese and clotted cream sandwiches, pepperoni pizza dipped in chocolate double-deep-fried and rolled in sugar. Twice. And the next day you compensate by pretty much fasting. I tried this diet for many years. Although, back then it was called bulimia. The name may have changed but the premise is identical. Sadly, the diet failed to work for me. My body was ravaged, I was depressed, completely obsessed with food and had the kind of negative body image that would bring on suicide attempts in the most robust of character. Oh and I was fat.

Dieters have basically doing this for years. That’s why they are fat. The Alternate Day Diet is not only counterproductive, but dangerous too. Bulimia is a killer and this is bulimia. It may not include the psychological issues that bulimics suffer with, but it’s only a matter of time. Food deprivation leads to obsessive behaviour. People who deprive themselves of food tend to get so hungry that they will binge eat on unhealthy foods and then feel guilty and/or disgusted with themselves and enter another period of extreme deprivation. And that’s where the binge/purge cycle begins. This is a very unnatural eating method that places great pressure on the human body, not only from stress but also from overloading the digestive system which can raise blood pressure and lead to a host of other issues.

Normal weight female.

Not fat. Normal.

Founder of the diet, New Orleans-based Dr Johnson defends his diet saying that the diet regulates the appetite – that eating large quantities one day will lead to a decreased appetite the following day. Perhaps, this might be true of a few but I think many eating disorder experts and sufferers might beg to differ. His book claims that the diet increases the metabolism and tricks the body into spending more calories than it usually would.

Johnson discovered the Alternate Day Diet after finding scientific research that reported mice losing substantial weight on a similar plan, along with other purported health benefits. He performed clinical trials and found that dieters lost an average of 8% of their overall body weight over a two-month period.

Other scientists are strangely sceptical of his claims that the diet will in fact assist in lowering blood pressure and has other positive effects on the body such as improvements in asthma and arthritis.

[adsense]Like most other diets, this diet will lead to food obsessions, maybe some short-term weight loss but overlooks the fact that we should all be eating a healthy diet. We need to look to nature if we want to see what we should be eating.

No other species needs to diet or follow outlandish eating systems that involve equations, portion weighing, calorie counting, low fat, low carb, high interest or any of the other preposterous gimmicks we’ve gobbled up over the years. Stop waiting for miracles. Eat healthy and you will reap the benefits. Not just weight loss but clear skin, improvements in your mood, digestion, cellulite, libido and joie de vivre. You can reach your optimal weight and feel happy but stop listening to snake oil salesmen.

Celebrities that have been affected by bulimia include Geri Haliwell, Britney Spears, Jane Fonda, Keira Knightley, Kate Moss, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and the late Princess Diana.

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Images: chesiel.com, metro.co.uk, kalahari.net, diseaseproof.com, willsalt.wordpress.com, bulimia.purzuit.com.

2 thoughts on “The Alternate Day Diet: not an alternative.

  1. The Every Other Day Diet “Eat Ever Other Day Diet” is to plan. But you do not really eat only every other day. The diet revolves around shifting the science of calorie content!

  2. Nobody with an eating disorder should use this method. If you binge and purge, you have an unhealthy relationship with food, period.
    I have no such issues, and will not develop them. I do not “starve” on my low calorie days, nor do I stuff myself with anything I can reach on my eating days. I count calories, pick healthy choices, drink water, and will continue to do so regardless of your ridiculous pictures of anorexics.
    I WISH I looked like the healthy picture. I do not. This diet works for me, and is allowing me to come out of the obese range (where I have been for the past 17 years because my metabolism adjusts quickly to whatever I try), into the overweight range. I am ecstatic to have this chance to be healthy.
    Do not trash something that is not made for everyone. You are doing people a disservice who deserve a chance.

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