No One Eats These 7 Ridiculous Diet Foods Anymore

Every few years, a new batch of diet foods becomes wildly popular. You know the ones: 100-calorie packs, green juices, high-protein everything. Though some of today’s picks are arguably pretty silly, most don’t come close to what was flying off shelves a few decades ago. Maybe taking a second look at some of these ridiculous diet foods, and continuing to get smarter about nutrition will keep everyone from repeating the same weight-loss mistakes. At the very least, you’ll probably have a laugh.

1. Light yogurt

tub of fruit flavored yogurt with spoon on colorful napkin

Light yogurt used to be a hit. | iStock.com/Peter Mackey

With everyone going gaga over Greek yogurt, light varieties are pretty much a thing of the past. But when everyone was still fearful of eating any fat, light yogurt was a staple snack or breakfast for everyone watching their weight. The sneaky thing is the name never truly lived up to its promise. These products were certainly light in the fat department, but sugar was a totally different story.

Let’s use Yoplait, which still offers its light options, as an example. Their key lime pie flavor delivers a whopping 10 grams of the sweet stuff. You may as well be eating a pudding cup.

2. Fat-free cookies

A white plate of chocoloate covered mint cookies with cup of coffee

Cookies should not be one of your diet-friendly foods. | iStock.com/dbvirago

Diet cookies? The idea seemed too good to be true, and it was. Most people were overjoyed with the fat-free, low-calorie promise, never letting their eyes travel much lower on the nutrition label. This was a mistake because the sugar content is where things got ugly.

SnackWell’s is a perfect example. Though the brand largely did away with their diet offerings after being sold, the Chicago Tribune reports, the devil’s food cookie has remained staunchly fat-free. One of these treats contains 7 grams of sugar. That’s not terrible, until you consider how easy it is to eat three. We wouldn’t be surprised if these treats disappear in a few years.

3. Wheatgrass juice

Green Organic Wheat Grass Juice

Wheatgrass juice tastes like, well, grass. | iStock.com/maramicado

Long before celebrities began sipping their meals in an effort to cleanse their bodies, there was a totally different kind of green drink: wheatgrass juice. According to WebMD, it’s made from a type of young grass that gets crushed and squeezed since the leaves themselves are difficult to digest. This supremely green drink was a huge hit at health food stores thanks to potent nutrient levels. Mayo Clinic highlights some of them, including calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. So what makes this a ridiculous diet food? The taste. Most people find it completely disgusting.

4. Olestra potato chips

Potato chips

Potato chips are never supposed to be fat-free. | iStock.com

Going back to the fat-free craze, Lay’s capitalized on the diet trend with WOW! potato chips. These miracle munchies boasted a mere 75 calories per serving and 0 grams of fat. The secret to these snacks was a fat substitute called Olestra, but it turned out to have a nasty side effect in the form of gastrointestinal distress. One story from HealthDay reported the FDA even required a label stating, “Olestra may cause cramping and loose stools” for a time. Some iteration of these chips stayed on shelves for a while, but Lay’s finally pulled the fat-free varieties entirely.

5. Margarine

margarine on a butter knife

Margarine is no better than butter. | iStock.com/gemredding

While people were afraid of every type of dietary fat in the 1990s, they were especially scared of saturated fat. With so many medical professionals talking about how eating too much of this particular nutrient could contribute to heart disease, people soon started swapping butter for margarine. It turns out this dairy stand-in was no better than the real thing, though, because it’s made with hydrogenated oils (i.e. trans fats). In fact, Harvard Health Publications says many of those initial offerings were actually worse than butter.

6. Cabbage soup

Sauerkraut soup in brown bowl

We’re glad the cabbage soup diet isn’t trending anymore. | iStock.com/Tatiana Volgutova

There are a lot of restrictive eating plans out there, but the cabbage soup diet might win the award for strangest. It became popular in the mid-1990s because, not surprisingly, the namesake food is fat-free. WebMD explains the diet allows you to eat cabbage soup two or three times per day as well as a handful of select foods like fruit, beef, and non-starchy vegetables. One Vanity Fair writer decided to try the diet on a whim and said the soup tasted “like boiled cabbage with ketchup on it.” This would explain why so few people give this one a go anymore.

For anyone supremely curious about the famous soup, the original recipe is available thanks to Fox News. With ingredients like packaged onion soup mix, V8, cabbage, and chicken bouillon, it certainly sounds flavorful. We’re just not sure that’s a good thing.

7. Canned diet shakes

A chocolate beverage probably isn't the best diet food

A chocolate beverage probably isn’t the best diet food. | iStock.com

The folks behind SlimFast definitely knew what they were doing when they came up with the name for this product. Better yet, it was such a simple solution. All you had to do was replace a meal here and there with a tasty shake. After all, a serving contained (and still does) a respectable 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

As appealing as it was, many simply didn’t find it practical. Everyday Health explains these drinks often don’t manage to quell hunger and they also limit the amount of real, arguably healthier, food you end up eating. A salad never sounded so good.