In a time where there is an increased focus on healthy eating, healthy living, and body acceptance/positivity, there has come along a diet that seemingly puts those that try it at risk. This diet, dubbed The Cinderella Diet, is dieting to achieve the same proportions as the fictional Disney character.
“Basically what this is doing is fueling our already insane fetish for being underweight and creating eating disorders," said Dr. Mikhail "Doctor Mike" Varshavski DO, a board-certified family medicine physician at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, who spoke to POPSUGAR in an email. "When you go on a crash or a fad diet, you get kidney damage, you get cardiac damage, you get depressed immune function, you get early onset osteoporosis, and your bones get more fragile."
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The diet started in Japan and uses body mass index (BMI) to find the "Cinderella" or "princess" weight. Dieters have to measure their height in meters, square it, then multiply by 18. This is the "Cinderella" weight in kilograms. To put this into perspective, a 5’4" woman would ideally weigh 108 pounds on this diet, dropping BMI to 18, putting dieters in the underweight category.
"This is incredibly unrealistic for most people, and a BMI of less than 18.5 is technically underweight, which means your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning," Mascha Davis MPH, RDN, told POPSUGAR in an email. "Being underweight, as well restricting calories to attain an underweight BMI, can affect not only your internal organs but also have a very negative impact on energy levels, ability to workout, the quality of your skin, hair, and much more. It can also harm your metabolism and, thus, paradoxically, make you actually put on weight, and then it can be even harder to lose it later," she added.
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And, she explained, the diet can also take an emotional toll on those trying it out.
"This type of diet, like any extreme diet, can be quite triggering for people who are predisposed to eating disorders. Even for those who are not predisposed, a lack of balanced meals to fuel the body and maintain healthy blood sugar levels can quickly lead to mood swings, fatigue, and emotional distress," she said.
However, for people looking to drop a few pounds, Davis has some advice.
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"I always take a close look at the ‘trifecta’: food, sleep, and exercise. Keeping these elements in balance is the key to reaching your health and weight goals. The other big one is hydration. It’s easy to overeat due to thirst rather than hunger. So I always tell my clients to feed their thirst first and then tune in to their body and decide if they are really hungry and how they can nourish themselves, rather than restrict or punish themselves, with a balanced meal or snack," she said.