Let’s eat cotton balls so we’ll feel full … to whom did this ever sound like a great idea?
Apparently it’s sounding better and better to young girls across the country who are gobbling up the newest trend in diets (read: eating disorders). Not exclusive to teens and tweens, it’s no surprise that models are swallowing this new take on eat-less-weigh-less, too.
It appears to work like this: Dip the cotton ball in your choice of beverage. In the video, lemonade, orange juice and a smoothie were shown being used as the lubricant to make these cotton balls more palatable. Some dieters do this before a meal, limiting the amount of real food they’re able to consume; other dieters consume the cotton balls exclusively.
Nothing good can come of doing this. Absolutely nothing.
Dr. Doug Nunamaker, a physican at the direct care practice Atlas, MD in Wichita, Kansas called it “pretty much one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard people trying in order to lose weight.” We are quite inclined to agree.
Followers of this absurd trend stand to lose more than just weight, as any level of extended use will bring on malnutrition, which has warning signs of anemia, diarrhea, hair loss, disorientation, loss of concentration, weakness, lack of energy, dried and cracking skin, and can even lead to organ failure and death in some cases.
“One concern would be choking on the cotton ball itself or even accidentally aspirating it into your lungs,” advises Dr. Nunamaker.
And if we couldn’t paint a scary enough picture of the results of the cotton ball diet, the doctor reveals one more potential harmful effect – bezoar.
“By far the biggest concern is something called a bezoar. That’s where you have a physical blockage of the intestine or stomach from something that’s not easily, or at all, digestible. Hair is a common cause in people that twirl and eat their hair.”
One YouTube teen tester said “I do not recommend trying this for yourself, it is painful.” If only he’d taken his own advice. The video channel is full of clips of people trying the cotton ball diet, and the most worrisome part is that they all appear to be girls aged about 9 to 16; the age group that is highly susceptible to having disordered eating behavior.
Another concern, albeit maybe not as frightening as a blocked digestive system, is the make up of the cotton ball. Unless you’re paying high dollar for an organic, sustainably sourced cotton ball, the standard bag from the grocery store isn’t even cotton. Rather, the standard cotton ball is a synthetic fiber or rayon and “may contain traces of harmful residues from pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, dioxins, or other chemicals,” according to Mercola.These fibers are bleached to make them as bright white as possible. And you’re eating that.
All in all, there is nothing advisable about following the cotton ball diet. In fact, unless your diet focuses on whole foods, it’s probably not very good for you. If your primary source for diet advice comes from teens on YouTube or supermodels trying to achieve a highly unattainable figure for the other 99 percent, you’d be well advised to look for a source with even moderately higher credentials.