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Mildred: Oh, Maud! Gosh, you look a lot thinner, and your hair’s got longer.
Maud: I know. Mother put me on this awful diet. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything except lettuce and celery and dreadful stuff like that. Still, I’m out of her clutches now, so it’s back to good old school dinners. Three cheers for date pudding and custard, I say!

Alice is trying to lose weight, and the first thing she thinks of is to go on a diet. She resolves that, to reach her goal weight, she will eat nothing but salad. It makes perfect sense, because: Vegetables are low in calories and some of the healthiest things you can eat. Eating less calories leads to weight loss. Therefore, eating only vegetables (or fruit) every day will help her lose weight the fastest! And for maximum comedy potential (because the diet is funnier the harder it is to eat), they'll be bitter greens like lettuce, spinach, and celery, rather than the easy-to-eat vegetables like beans, potatoes, tomatoes and corn. Sometimes the portions she eats will be comically tiny and in amounts nobody could feasibly survive on, like a single piece of lettuce a day.

Naturally, she will most likely be ravenously hungry after a day or two. She might quit immediately, struggle for a week or a month before giving up, or continue the diet but sneak sweets or other tasty food when no one's looking.

The "comically tiny portions of vegetables" variation can be Played for Drama by showing the negative effects of extreme hunger and dramatic weight loss on her health, or if someone else is restricting Alice's diet to only small portions of vegetables, rather than it being her own choice.

Please Do Not Try This at Home without consulting a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, or someone else with a professional background in this field. A crash diet could do more harm than good for your health in the long run.

Related tropes:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Advertising 
  • A print ad for an appetite suppressant shows a pretty young woman at a lunch counter. Before her lies a bed of lettuce with a single scoop of cottage cheese. She looks to her right at a beefy laborer grabbing napkins. There's a glorious banana split in front of him, a real caloric jackpot. The look on her face...

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mischievous Twins: The Tales of St. Clare's: One episode centers around Allison getting hooked on a dieting fad and insisting the other girls try it too. The book she's reading advises girls to abstain from eating their school-provided meals in favour of small amounts of greens. It ends up affecting the girls so badly that during swimming class, many either faint or cannot perform, and the opposing team wins.
  • In chapter 26 of Pet Shop of Horrors, one of the Customers of the Week is a teenage girl desperate to lose weight after her boyfriend dumped her over it. Count D gives her a personal trainer note  who has her eat a salad for her dinner the first few nights. Of course, though, her trainer doesn't stop there, exercising with her and offering healthier alternatives to the cakes the girl normally snacked on. By the time the school dance rolls around, she's lost a substantial amount of weight... and has also realized what a jerk her ex was, having gained a lot more confidence in herself.
  • Take Responsibility For My Stomach addresses this trope in its very first chapter. When Ritsu first decides to try and lose weight, she declares that she'll eat nothing but salad for the following three months. A week of eating nothing but salad does cause her to lose a couple of kilograms, but she very quickly becomes sick of the flavor (or lack thereof), her physical appearance starts to suffer, and she ends up passing out and collapsing after a shift at her part-time job due to malnutrition. Ruka steps in at that point to help Ritsu with a much more balanced dieting plan.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield and salads are pretty much mortal enemies. Whenever Garfield has to go on a diet, this is pretty much the most he gets - he’s been given a single leaf of lettuce and even carrots at one point. Garfield being Garfield, he will cheat on his diet by garnishing his salad with a loaf of Italian bread or even a ham.

    Fan Works 
  • Lila's Lament: Lila steals the Earrings and Ring and makes a Wish to switch lives with Adrien, becoming Gabriel's daughter and a rich and famous teen supermodel. When she sits down to breakfast in the Agreste house, she eagerly anticipates being served a luxurious meal. To her surprise, she gets celery sticks and whole wheat toast, with Nathalie explaining that she has to stay thin for her modeling career.
    Lila: And what do I get for lunch and dinner?
    Nathalie: Well, for lunch today, during your photoshoot, you have a single salad and water, no dressing, and carrot sticks. Tonight's dinner is grilled chicken breasts without the skin and spinach on the side.
    Lila: No dessert?
    Nathalie: Of course not! Sweets are strictly prohibited!

    Films — Animated 
  • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: When Wallace has announced that he is "in the mood for food", he is disappointed to see that Gromit has served him with a tiny portion of vegetables, to help him lose weight. This also sets the theme of the film being about vegetables, and Wallace himself being the were-rabbit who gorges on vegetables.
  • In the teaser for The Incredibles, Bob attempts to put on his superhero belt, only to find that it no longer fits him due to his pot belly. When his wife calls him for dinner, he suggests making him a salad.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • After the Time Skip in Avengers: Endgame, Thor ends up with a massive beer gut as a result of five years of Drowning His Sorrows. During the course of the adventure, he ends up traveling back in time to Asgard during the events of Thor: The Dark World, where he ends up speaking with his mother shortly before the battle in which she dies. Part of the advice she gives him on how to put his life back together is "eat a salad".

    Literature 
  • The Fountainhead: Late in the book, Peter Keating meets Catherine Halsey at a tea shop. Seeing that he's gained weight, Catherine changes his order of a ham and Swiss sandwich to a salad.
  • Harry Potter: In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Dudley is forced to go on a diet because he's gotten so fat that his school doesn't stock uniforms big enough to fit him. To make him feel better, Aunt Petunia makes everyone else in the house follow the diet too—even Harry, who is so thin that dieting would probably do him more harm than good. For breakfast, she serves everyone a quarter of grapefruit, with Harry's portion being much smaller than Dudley's. Dudley steals Uncle Vernon's grapefruit when he gets up to get the mail.
  • IT: Ben Hanscom was severely overweight as a child, but he stuns all his friends as an adult by showing up for their reunion without all that extra weight. He explains how he got so fed up with being bullied by other students and the school's track coach that he swore he'd go out for the next round of tryouts. He started running everywhere he went, and he got his mother to feed him all the salads he could eat. He was 70 pounds lighter by the time tryouts came around, and he easily outdid the coach's best runners. The coach was so angry, he slugged Ben on the spot and then excused him from having to take Phys Ed the following year just to be shut of him.
  • In Teen Idol, Cara Schlosberg is so desperate to lose weight fast and look like the popular girls that at lunch, she only gets a few lettuce leafs and a carton of milk. She keeps giving up before the day is over and eating cupcakes at her locker between classes. Jenny is able to get her to stop after spending a day with her, teaching her (among other things) that eating a full but still healthy meal is going to do her much better than just a salad. By the end of the book, Cara isn't any slimmer but she is a lot happier and more confident in herself, even getting a boyfriend.
  • Wintergirls: Lia mentally refers to a girl at her lunch table as "lettuce&ketchup" because she only eats a small bowl of lettuce and celery with ketchup, while the other girls eat taco salads and spaghetti. She's jealous of how thin Lia is and keeps giving her dirty looks.
  • The Worst Witch: At the beginning of A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch, Maud, who was previously described as tubby, mentions that her mother put her on this awful diet of lettuce and celery and stuff like that, and that she is now glad to be back at school, out of her mother's clutches.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Becker episode "Trials and Defibrillations", an overweight patient of Becker (whose habits Becker has been trying to change for years) has a heart attack and subsequently sues Becker; at the trial, Becker says that he's glad his patient had that heart attack, because it caused him to change his ways, specifically mentioning that he saw his patient having a salad for lunch.
Becker: I saw Vinny have a salad today at lunch. Yeah, it's the first time he's seen a piece of lettuce that didn't come on top of a cheeseburger.
  • Frasier: When the radio station has a weight loss competition, at the first weigh-in, Frasier has actually gained weight, which causes him to exclaim "Impossible, I added a salad to every meal!"
  • Red Dwarf: At the end of "Bodyswap", after Lister's body was first borrowed and then outright stolen by Rimmer (who was meant to be getting him into shape, but succumbed to temptation after being able to eat real food for the first time in years, and ended up putting a huge amount of weight on), his dinner turns out to be a lettuce leaf topped with grated carrot. Lister bemoans the fact that he's going to be eating like this for the next six months.
  • Scrubs:
    • During a montage of patients lying to their doctors, Turk sees an overweight man who claims to only eat salads.
    • Dr. Cox has a meltdown when one of his patients gains weight when he was supposed to be losing it. He laments how easy it would've been for him to go for a walk or eat a salad when compared to performing an angioplasty on him.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "The Corbomite Maneuver'', Kirk is given a salad on Doctor's Orders. He's not amused.
  • That '70s Show: After Red has a heart attack, Kitty puts him on a diet. Upon being given a salad, Red complains, "This isn't food; this is what food eats."

    Music 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic: The song "Grapefruit Diet" is from the perspective of someone who has to go on a diet where he can only eat grapefruit until he's able to lose weight.
  • Tim McGraw's "My Next Thirty Years" has him resolve to watch his weight and eat more salad, so he can improve his health and well-being in the next three decades.

    Web Original 
  • In the r/nosleep Creepypasta, Fat Camp, Natalie is sent by her parents to a fat camp that tortures teenage girls to force them to lose weight. They play a game called Whale Watching where the girls tread water as long as they can, and the last one to tap out gets a bowl of fresh salad. Grace is able to tread water the longest, but Ashley only allows her to eat a single bite of salad before knocking the bowl out of her hands and kicking it into the lake.
    Ashley: I want you to savor that bite, Grace! Remember how nice and cool it was! Vegetables should be your favorite food! When you're hungry tonight, think about that salad, how good it was, how much you wanted to finish it! Let yourself crave it! Soon, you won't ever find yourself wanting greasy chips or fatty sweets anymore; you'll want that salad!

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts: In the Goofy short "Tomorrow We Diet", Goofy is told not to eat any fattening food so he can lose weight. The only thing left after pushing away all the "bad" food is a single carrot; his face turns into that of a rabbit upon looking at it.
  • Garfield's Thanksgiving: Jon puts Garfield on a diet the day before Thanksgiving. Garfield is served a single lettuce leaf. This exchange occurs:
    Jon: Here, Garfield, have some food. According to your diet, you get this.
    Garfield: That's it? That's all? Just one scraggly piece of lettuce?
    Jon: Oh, I'm sorry, Garfield, that's not what you get.
    Garfield: Well, I should hope not.
    Jon: You get half a leaf of lettuce!
    Garfield: That's better!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Pickles", upon seeing the Fat Bastard Bubble Bass about to make an order, Squidward reacts with "Let me guess, Tiny, a small salad?"

    Real Life 
  • While many people live on vegetarian or vegan diets successfully, eating only vegetables and/or fruit for longer than a few weeks or so—while it will probably cause weight loss—can also result in health issues. The reason is that plant-based foods alone don’t contain enough of certain essential nutrients like protein, vitamin B12, omega-3 and omega-6 fats, vitamin D, iron, and calcium. For those reasons, people eating a vegan diet often include vitamin supplements.
  • The 80/10/10 diet, developed by Dr. Douglas Graham, is based on the idea of getting 80% of your nutrients from carbohydrates, 10% from protein, and 10% from fat. In practice, this means eating almost entirely fruit with small amounts of vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Leanne Ratcliffe, also known as Freelee the Banana Girl, is a vegan YouTuber who eats almost nothing but bananas, calling it the “30 Bananas a Day Diet.”

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