Extreme Dieting: The Feeding Tube Diet is Catching On
Some brides-to-be are prepping to say 'I do' by inserting a feeding tube in their nose. Also known as the K-E method, it's the latest wedding crash diet, and it's raising eyebrows among health experts. The 10-day plan requires brides-to-be to live with a nasogastric tube inserted through their nose and threaded into their stomach. A protein pack dispenses a liquid mix of nutrients, but no carbs, supplying about 800 calories a day. (Most experts recommend healthy adult women get about 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day.) The feeding tube diet throws the body into starvation, and is touted as helping followers drop 20 pounds in 10 days. "People are taking an unnecessary medical risk by putting in a [feeding] tube," David Heber, director of the UCLA Risk Factor Obesity Program, told Time. "To do it for no reason seems to me overly risky. Without medical supervision … it's not safe."
Is a Gluten-Free Diet Smart for Weight Loss?
Miley Cyrus is looking leaner than ever these days, fueling mass speculation of an eating disorder. Earlier this month, she took to Twitter to defend her slim physique: "For everyone calling me anorexic, I have a gluten and lactose allergy. It's not about weight, it's about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!"
While Cyrus' weight loss may be due to a legitimate food allergy, scads of other celebrities and non-famous folks alike are adopting a gluten-free diet—for weight reasons, not health. "It's definitely trendy now. Everyone is talking about it," says Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C. And the food industry is apparently cashing in on the trend, too: By 2015, sales of gluten-free foods and beverages are expected to hit $5 billion, according to Packaged Facts, a market research firm. "I see the positive side of being more aware of gluten and trying not to overdo it," says Politi, "but I don't think it's a good way to lose weight."
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as many common food additives. It gives dough elasticity and baked goods their chewiness. (It's found in pizza, beer, burgers, and pancakes, for example.) Those who have celiac disease—caused by an overactive immune response to gluten in the small intestine—are encouraged to go gluten-free to avoid digestive symptoms like pain and diarrhea, and even permanent intestinal damage or malnutrition. There's no cure or medication other than a gluten-free diet. About 1 percent of the population suffers from celiac and about 10 percent have a less specific sensitivity, according to the Mayo Clinic. [Read more: Is a Gluten-Free Diet Smart for Weight Loss?]
Surprisingly Unhealthy Restaurant Meals
Everyone knows that trademark fast food like Whoppers and Big Macs doesn't fit comfortably under a "diet" label. But sit-down family chains have eye-opening menu entries, too, that can supply as much or more fat or salt as anything dished out at a drive-thru window. Here's a look at some of America's favorite family restaurants—and one juice joint—and their surprisingly unhealthy offerings.
Boston Market. You may think grabbing a Boston Market salad in lieu of rotisserie chicken is the healthier choice. Think again. Its chicken Caesar salad has 660 calories and 43 grams of fat—slightly more than what's in the half-chicken á la carte. The salad also has 1,590 mg of salt, approaching the 2,300 mg per day the government recommends you stay below, and exceeding the 1,500-mg limit for anyone who is 51 or older, African-American, or has hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
Olive Garden. "When you're here, you're family," goes the Olive Garden pitch, but you might think twice about feeding your family this much fat. The government urges adults to ingest no more than 20 to 35 percent of daily calories from fat. That equates to a max of 44 to 78 grams of total fat per day if you're on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Olive Garden's fettuccini Alfredo has a whopping 1,220 calories, 75 grams of fat, and 1,350 mg of salt—the caloric equivalent of two Big Macs and an order of small fries—and that's before the all-you-can-eat breadsticks, which have 150 calories each. Even without the creamy Alfredo sauce, the restaurant's dishes can be packed with calories, salt, and fat. The chicken and shrimp carbonara has 1,440 calories, 88 grams of fat, and 3,000 mg of salt, while the chicken parmigiana has 1,090 calories, 49 grams of fat, and 3,380 mg of salt, for example. [Read more: Surprisingly Unhealthy Restaurant Meals]