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Ayala Laufer-Cahana, M.D. Headshot

Crazy Diets, Silly Food Science and Absurd Food Inventions 2013

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This year had its remarkable share of senseless diets, bizarre research and odd inventions. Here's what you might've missed. Feel free to add your chuckle-worthy items to the comments below.

Lose weight; stop eating

The Breatharian Diet holds much promise. For one: It can solve world hunger. According to believers, much like plants, humans can live on fresh air and sunlight's vital life forces if they work on it. The British Dietetic Association lists this diet as the No. 1 "Top 5 Worst Celebrity Diets to Avoid in 2014" -- ridiculous as this might sound, there are people who actually tried this, and some who lived to tell the tale. 

Why do onions make us cry?

The silliest of research is celebrated yearly at the Ig Nobel awards.  The ceremony, held at Harvard University each fall, spoofs the Nobel prizes and is presided over by real Nobel winners.

Among this year's achievements were the discovery that people who think they're drunk feel more attractive, and that the longer a cow lies down, the more likely she is to stand up. The important food chemistry prize went to Shinsuke Imai from Japan, who discovered why onions make us cry -- it is actually more complicated that previously thought.  Imai's group discovered a previously unknown enzyme, lachrymatory-factor synthase, which apparently has nothing to do with onion's taste profile or nutritional value. So there you have it: We can potentially develop a perfectly tasty onion that doesn't protect itself with tear gas. 

Must have: watermelon stroller

I love watermelons and really miss them right now -- I won't touch watermelons out of season. Would you like to take your watermelon for a walk in a fitted cooler, or are you going to carry this heavy baby in your arms forever? Head over to this site and you can purchase the lovely Japanese device for about $200. What if you have twins?

A tablet on every table

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Applebee's announced it will install tablets on every table by the end of 2014, enabling diners to read the menu, pay the bill and play games. Chili's will be doing much the same, empowering customers to order drinks and desserts and to play interactive games. Both companies deny this will cut jobs. If you are to believe the chains, the computers will enhance rather that replace human servers, who are poised to get larger tips due to better customer satisfaction.

Yippee! With TV screens already in every corner, Instagram, Facebook and text luring us to our personal smartphones, and now a tablet to fill odd-moments-when-family-finds-silence-unbearable with video streaming and social media interaction, we can finally fully enjoy a leisurely meal. This really brings these so-called family friendly eating establishments to new levels of kindliness to what it means to eat and to be in company. Next: Your meal will be delivered by drone.

Looking forward to see what 2014 brings.

Dr. Ayala

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