About a month ago, I read GQ’s article on a 10 Day Ice Cream Diet. Long story short, one of their writers ate five pints of Halo Top ice cream a day for ten days straight. After five days he lost 5 pounds; by the end he’d lost 10. Impossible, I thought. After spending a semester abroad in Florence, I was having serious gelato withdrawals. Could Halo Top be the answer to my frozen-treat prayers?

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

The following day, I bought two pints at Whole Foods to try it. This isn’t fake ice cream that tastes like frozen water (I’m looking at you, Arctic Zero). As someone who has tried two different juice cleanses in her life, I desperately wanted to do this “ice cream cleanse.” For science, of course. Ten days seemed excessive, so I decided on five.

My top two concerns were cost (unfortunately, Halo Top isn’t on Duke Food Points…could I start a GoFundMe to pay for this?) and the days without coffee. Luckily, when I reached out to Halo Top in hopes of collaboration, their CMO generously offered to ship me twenty-five pints.

I did some research to determine what exactly I’d be putting in my body. I discovered that erythritol is a sugar alcohol with zero glycemic index (no calories, holla), but it looks and tastes like sugar. However, it’s been recorded to cause digestive upsets when consumed in large quantities. Well, godspeed.

ice cream

Graphic by Meredith Davin

Depending on the flavor, a pint of Halo Top has either 240 or 280 calories. My daily caloric intake would total between 1240 to 1280 calories with 120 grams of protein.

I could hardly contain my excitement. I started to spread the word that my dream of an all ice cream diet was finally becoming a reality. A few days after the order was placed, a gigantic box filled with dry ice arrived at my doorstep.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

I updated my Facebook profile picture explaining the “Halo Top Diet,” along with a disclaimer that cautioned others about trying this at home. The responses were overwhelming: after a few hours I had over 380 Facebook likes and dozens of comments.

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Needless to say, this was not good for my ego.

I was so excited, I felt like it was Christmas Eve. I had noble intentions to eat a healthy dinner for my last real meal – maybe a salad with salmon?

I ate pizza.

Day 1

I jumped out of bed around 8 am on Friday and made a “Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie” – half a pint of Strawberry and half a pint of Lemon Cake mixed together. This is going to be incredible, I thought as I giddily spooned the ice cream into a cup.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

I bounced between classes, meetings, and trips back to my dorm room to grab ice cream from my freezer. As I walked through campus, half a dozen people stopped me to ask about the diet. I felt like Hannah Montana – a normal college student who doubles as a (not-so-secret) ice cream connoisseur. Was I finally getting my fifteen minutes of fame?

Everything was going great until our on-campus concert later that night. As we danced to Sean Kingston’s “Fire Burning,” my friends were already discussing ordering pizza or driving to Cook Out. I couldn’t handle it.

As visions of pizza danced in my head, I returned home to eat my last pint of ice cream for the day – half Mint Chip and half Chocolate. I named it “Thin Mint Ice Cream” after the beloved Girl Scout Cookies.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

Day 2

I woke up around 9 with a slight headache and a bloated stomach. I begrudgingly opened my freezer to pry out a pint of Vanilla. I set out to the library for the day and didn’t return until midafternoon. I wasn’t even hungry at this point, but demolished a pint of Lemon Cake in minutes. I was becoming an expert ice cream eater. Still, my energy was wiped and focusing on homework had been extremely difficult. I made the mistake of telling some friends. Panic ensued.

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I ensured them that the ice cream was low in sugar and high in protein. Plus I was taking a multivitamin to make up for some of the missed nutrients. It’s not like I was eating five pints of Ben & Jerry’s a day. I would be just fine.

My family was less than concerned. “Please post more pictures about your ice cream,” my 15-year-old sister said sarcastically. But I had bigger fish to fry than fighting with my teen sister; my dry ice had evaporated. I set out for solution and came back from the gas station with two giant bags of ice.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

That night, my roommate couldn’t stop talking about ordering Domino’s. We’re both relatively healthy eaters, except for the occasional failed-my-stat-test pizza.

“If you eat some,” she said, “no one has to know!”

“Kayla,” I exclaimed, “it doesn’t work that way!”

I went to bed dreaming about cheesy bread. Again.

Day 3

The carb cravings had subsided and now, at 9 am on a Sunday, all I wanted was a heaping bowl of freshly washed spinach. Maybe with a side of sweet potato. Instead, I took out my breakfast, the Napoleon: a mix of Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

Creativity was the only thing keeping me going. I really couldn’t handle this ice diet anymore. I repeated my friend Elena’s mantra to myself, mind over matter.

At this point, all my friends (and the entire Duke student body) were aware of the ice cream diet. I received upwards of a dozen texts a day. People were amused, excited and confused.

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I was basically famous at this point.

Sunday turned out to be torture-Meredith-with-food day. I had to attend two dinners and politely sip water through gritted teeth. The second dinner (with my a club lacrosse team) was bearable only because I’ve sworn off Chipotle post-E. coli scare. I brought my pint of melting Mint Chip as my teammates chowed down on chips and guac.

In other news, when I returned to my dorm room, I found that my makeshift freezer was room temperature. I bagged the next two days’ worth of ice cream, labeled them aggressively, and put them into the communal dorm freezer.

Secretly, I hoped someone would eat them…

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

I went to bed with a stomach full of liquid ice cream, confused as to how I was still surviving.

Day 4

Monday morning, I went downstairs to the common room to find that someone had eaten all of my ice cream. Joking – every pint was still there.

I wished to eat anything but ice cream. My mouth was dry and my head throbbed. I felt like I had gotten four hours of sleep and been stranded in the middle of desert. Except that I’d slept for eight and always drink 64 ounces of water a day.

I received a text from my best friend asking to meet up for lunch. Normally I would have turned the opportunity down, but Kaley had purchased a pint of Halo Top and wanted to eat it with me in solidarity.

This is what friendship looks like, folks.

ice cream

Photo by Nora Ghanem

Walking back from class, I checked my phone and saw that I’d a missed call from Domino’s. A few weeks ago they had messed up my order. They’d contacted me to rectify the situation with a free pizza or cheesy bread of my choice.

MY CHEESY BREAD PRAYERS HAD BEEN ANSWERED. I could not wait for the diet to end so I could place my order. Thank you Jesus, thank you pizza.

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I didn’t fully understand the beating my body was taking until my club lacrosse game that night against UNC. Not to worry – I was only scheduled to play for ten minutes in the game, but when I arrived to warm up, I knew even that might be too much.

After the first few minutes of drills, I could feel the dizziness set in. This could get really bad, I thought. I was temped to give up on the diet. At that point, I had sacrificed playing time, countless meals with friends, and now my physical health. Was it worth it?

In the second half, UNC forfeited the game after a player got injured. An unfortunate event for my team, but truthfully very fortunate for me. The score was 6-6, so we technically didn’t lose? #GTHC.

As the rest of the team celebrated with cookies, brownies and sheet cake, I chewed my cinnamon gum and had an internal battle. Should I give this up for the sake of my health and sanity?

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

I decided I would push through. One more day. I could practically taste the cheesy bread.

Day 5

At 9:15 am, I couldn’t get out of bed. “I can’t do this anymore!” I whined at my roommate.

I wanted to stage a photo holding my five remaining pints to show off my impending success. Kayla had an incredible idea. Queen B and her Grammys have nothing on me and my ice cream.

Photo courtesy of bossip.com

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Photo by Kayla Seltzer

I left my room to go buy more plastic spoons and unashamedly ate a pint in our student union as passers-by judged me. The rest of the day was very uneventful. I spent a lot of time in the library studying, writing this article, and counting the hours until I could eat solid food again.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

I posted my final Instagram on @madebymer, concluding this chapter of my ice cream filled life. I had emerged victorious.

Five days. Twenty-five pints. One girl who might never want ice cream again.


ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

Wednesday morning, I woke up and stepped on the scale. Since day one, I’d lost a whopping 1.4 pounds, which is considered normal weight fluctuation. By day five in his diet, our friend over at GQ had lost 5 pounds. Likely it’s because women and men metabolize differently according to their nutritional intake, bodyweight, and frequency of exercise, among other factors.

I’ve always been a proponent of a heathy lifestyle, but it wasn’t until now that I fully understood the phrase, “calories are not created equally.” I was eating over 1200 calories a day, which theoretically should have been enough, but I was entirely lacking whole grains and vegetables, important complex carbohydrates that are necessary for focus and energy.

Throughout this process, I realized that by publicizing my ice cream diet, I was inadvertently promoting restrictive dieting. This was far from my intention, as I am adamantly opposed to quick-fix diets. I received countless texts from girls asking how the “cleanse” was going and if they should try it. I want to be clear that I DO NOT recommend this to anyone.

Bottom line, fad diets don’t work.

What I do recommend, though? Enjoying life, exercising, and eating a balanced diet (which can include giving Halo Top a try). Even after my experiment, I will undoubtedly eat this low calorie ice cream again.

My favorite flavor, you might ask? Chocolate. Nothing can beat this creamy, rich pint, although Mint Chip takes a close second.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

Finally, I’d like to thank Halo Top for sending me the ice cream, to Spoon for helping make this happen, and to you for reading this article! I really couldn’t have done this without all of your support.

And yes, I finally celebrated with some pizza.

ice cream

Photo by Meredith Davin

ice cream

Graphic by Spoon University