In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown released a book titled Sex and the Single Girl: The Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men.
The novel looked into the art of being fabulously single and not settling for any old spouse because a perceived timeline tells you to. It also spoke about the non negotiable need for women to be thin.
“If you are already mounds of pounds overweight, you must Do Something, or you can’t hope to be blissfully single,” Gurley Brown wrote.
The author then went on to share something now known as the “wine and egg diet”. She encouraged people to follow this if they’d “like to crash away six pounds [2.7 kilos]” in the space of a weekend.
The diet lasted for two days and included just white wine, black coffee, eggs and steak.
Sound ridiculous? I thought so, too.
Someone must’ve liked it though, because a version of the diet is said to have popped up in Vogue during the 1970s.
If the snapshots on the Internet are anything to go by, Vogue’s take lasted three days, claimed to shave off five pounds (2.3 kilos) and had stricter rules on wine variety and egg prep.
Now, I know it’s easy to laugh off the above as some bazaar trend from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
It’s been almost 60 years since Gurley Brown’s book was published, after all. But the truth is that while body positivity has made some progress, (we hopefully now know that bliss is not reserved for any one size) extreme diets are still everywhere.
The promise of fast weight loss can be tempting, sure. But we don’t always talk about how something like this impacts your body.
So, I tried the wine diet to find out.
Here’s what went down:
“What is this? A breakfast for ants?!”
I’m a huge breakfast fan and usually make a solid spread, so one boiled egg was like eating a tic-tac for me.
But that wasn’t even the worst part.
As fun as it might sound, getting a glass of wine down my throat at 9am was just not enjoyable. I literally had to toss it back, which felt all kinds of wrong.
I also hate black coffee.
So, all-in-all I’d say my level of satisfaction was sitting at a two out of ten.
The afternoon wasn’t much better.
I left for my communal workspace after lunch (I felt more comfortable guzzling my vino and eating my eggs at home). But, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was a little buzzed. This left me feeling incredibly self-conscious.
“Do I smell like wine?”
“Can that guy tell I’m tipsy?”
“Oh man, I hate this.”
By 5pm, I was ravenous. I ran home, cooked my steak, and demolished it.
Dinner was certainly more satisfying than breakfast and lunch, but I wasn’t full for long and kept “snacking” on wine until bed.
“Can I just sleep for three days straight, instead?”
I woke up hungry and dehydrated.
During breakfast I stared longingly at some tomatoes.
I felt fuller for a little longer after my eggs, but my energy levels were incredibly low. By the early afternoon, I could no longer concentrate on work and was feeling dizzy when I stood.
For some reason (delirium?), I decided to do a dance class that evening. I made sure to eat half my steak early beforehand but still wasn’t fully convinced I wouldn’t faint.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But I was incredibly fatigued (to the point of nausea), and my legs were like jelly afterwards.
“I’ve never hated anything more than I hate this diet.”
On day three, I spent most of my time lying on the couch, blankly staring at my laptop screen.
I wanted to sleep all day, my head hurt and I was really freaking hungry. My stomach looked pretty flat, I guess? But I didn’t even care.
Gurley Brown wrote that “the foods that make you sexy, exuberant, full of the joie de vivre are also the ones that keep you slender”.
If she was referring to this diet, I’d have to disagree.
I felt like a lifeless sack of potatoes.
Did I look slimmer? A little, maybe. But that’s hardly surprising; I was starving for three days.
Call me crazy, but I would have absolutely traded a little belly fat for the pleasure of feeling human again.
I asked Dietitian Emily Hardman her thoughts on diets like these, and her opinion was clear:
“Some detox diets may result in weight loss,” she said.
“However, this is usually because the body becomes dehydrated. When a person starts eating and drinking normally again, they quickly regain the weight.”
In a nutshell, this style of eating is “a waste of time and money, with no health benefits”.
Long story short: I didn’t enjoy the wine diet. My experience was the pits. And no one else should do it, especially not in the name of finding a date.
After all, bliss is never found on a set of scales.
… Now, can someone please bring me a smashed avo on sourdough?