I'LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE: The Sensational Hollywood Water Diet From 1970

Publish date:
June 18, 2014
vintage, diets, hollywood water diet

Because I’m nostalgic for eras I wasn’t even alive for, I’ve got a collection of little books from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s all about dieting, exercise, makeup, hair, and general lifestyle tips geared toward women. They were “written” (I put it in quotes, because I think all he did was lend his name) by Joe Bonomo, a body builder. They’re hilarious, fun, and occasionally heartbreaking.

Because I am such a fan of living a vintage lifestyle, I decided to tackle one of Ole Joe’s diets: “The Sensational Hollywood Water Diet” from 1970.

“LOSE 7 TO 10 POUNDS FAST WITH THIS FAMOUS DIET” the cover proclaims, as well as, “Never be hungry.”

Thankfully, the diet is more than just water. There’s actual food involved, though portions are small and it’s pretty carb-heavy. The introduction page says, “Pull up a Chair…And Let’s Talk About THE WATER DIET.” (Joe begins every book with, “Pull up a Chair.” “Pull up a Chair and let’s talk about beauty,” “Pull up a Chair and let’s talk about being a good hostess,” “Pull up a Chair and let’s talk about changing everything about you,” etc).

“If you are overweight,” Joe begins, “don’t feel that you are alone. At the present time [1970 is the copyright date] there are more than 50 million people in the United States that are classified as being overweight.” Now that number is, as of 2011, 72 million people, according to the CDC.

But Joe’s got your back. “Beginning today, I want you to think positive…and THIN… From now on…and evermore be positive…THINK THIN! THINK THIN! THINK THIN!”,Jesus, Joe, chill out. So now you know the tone of the book, here’s what the actual diet is:

7 AM – Glass (8oz) of water (“warm preferable”)

8 AM – Breakfast. I chose the only breakfast option the book provided; you’ll hear more about this later.

9 AM – Glass (8oz) of “reviving” water

10 AM – Mid-morning snack (which could be seltzer water, tea, coffee, Postum, Sanka, diluted juice, or fruits or vegetables as long as they’re not over 50 calories. OR cottage cheese or yogurt made from skim milk.)

11 AM – Glass (8oz) of “reviving” water

12 noon – Lunch (“avoid empty calorie foods”). The book had a few options for lunch; I chose the most retro one. (More on this later).

1:30 PM – Glass (8oz) of “bubbling” water

3PM – Mid-afternoon snack (which is a serving of fruit or veggies under 50 calories, seltzer water, tea, coffee, Postum or Sanka -- black or with skim milk, no sugar -- or a diluted glass of juice including apple cider, grape, orange, grapefruit, papaya, apricot, pineapple, prune, peach, pear, tangerine, carrot, clam, kraut, tomato, or V8).

4:30 PM – Glass of “refreshing” water

6 PM – Dinner (“Keep portions small”). The book had a few different meal plans for dinner; I picked the easiest one. (More on this later).

7 PM – Glass (8 oz.) of “glimmering” water

8 PM – Mid-evening snack

9 PM – Glass (8 oz.) of “sparkling” water

10 PM – Bedtime snack

11 PM – Glass (8 oz.) of water just before bedtime.

As you can see, there’s the recommended 8 glasses of water, not including the coffee/tea or diluted juice. I have a feeling I am going to be a peeing machine. Let’s get started!


I’m a little nervous about starting this diet. One thing is that as a freelance writer, I don’t typically wake up this early. And it will be disappointing to wake up so early and reach for a warm water instead of a piping hot coffee. But it can, and shall, be done. I predict I’ll be very hungry and irritable all day.


7:01 AM

Am sipping my warm water. Tasty.

8:30 AM

I’m tired and not ready to eat yet. In a half-hour I can have a glass of “reviving water.” Woohoo.

10:00 AM

By now I’m supposed to be having my mid-morning snack, but I haven’t even gotten to breakfast yet –- too sleepy -– and I’m not hungry in the mornings. But I’ll try.

10:45 AM

The book suggests 2 eggs if “heavy or extra-heavy work is to be done” so I went with just one, as blogging requires little physical strain. Almost time for water and a multivitamin (at 11 AM). Old Joe recommends including a “vitamin-mineral capsule” just before either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I couldn’t finish the tomato clam juice -– too early for such things.

12:25 PM

Eating lunch a little late. It’s…pretty bland. I used canned pineapple slices for that extra special retro touch.

1:24 PM

Almost time for my glass of “bubbling water.” As predicted, I’ve had to pee a lot on this diet. I’m pretty certain Mr. Joe Bonomo doesn’t mean “bubbling” as in sparkling, or he would have specified “seltzer water.” (Seltzer water is actually a “snack” you can have.) But I need to switch things up; plain water is getting boring.

2:48 PM

Getting ready for my 3 PM afternoon snack. I’m honestly a little bloated, and I’m guessing it’s from all the water I’ve been drinking. I’m also not as hungry as I thought I would be. I think I’ll go for a diluted glass of grape juice. Tasty!

4:02 PM

Can't. Stop. Peeing.

5:11 PM

Almost time for dinner, hooray! Am finally starting to feel hungry and am sick of all this damn water.

6:00 PM

It’s dinnertime! At dinner, I get to eat more than I did all day. I barely finished the salad and don’t even get me started on the grapefruit. I’m amazed I’m not more hungry.

7:32 PM

Almost forgot about my 7 PM glass of “glimmering water.” I went with sparkling lemon flavored, because I need something fancy. Man, I could go for a glass of wine right now.

8:00 PM

It’s 8 PM and time for my mid-evening snack, but I don’t want anything. I’m so full of water. I know that sounds crazy, but I really am.

9:00 PM


10:00 PM

It’s time for my “Bedtime snack,” my last solids of the day. I’m going with half an avocado, and since I’m allowed to use all the salt, pepper, and Tabasco I want, I will. I need something hearty and savory. I didn’t realize until later than my avocado half is around 80 calories, 30 calories above the recommended snack allowance, but since I skipped my mid-morning snack, I figure it adds up okay. And of course now, for pretty much the first time all day, I find myself hungry. Only one more water to go (11PM) and I’m done!

11:00 PM


So how did I feel on this diet? I felt bloated and had the need to pee almost constantly. I surprisingly didn’t feel hungry until very late at night. I think this diet was intended for women who were housewives, as it’s so strict on timing and food that it would be hard for a working woman to incorporate into her schedule. Here’s how my calories added up:

BREAKFAST: 158 calories.

LUNCH: 180 calories.

DINNER: 258 calories.

SNACKS: 171 calories.

That makes my total a mere 767 calories for the entire day. A recommended calorie intake for a young woman of my weight and height is more along the lines of 1,100 to 1,300 calories. So basically, The Spectacular Hollywood Water Diet is spectacularly insane in the long run. Sorry, Joe!