"What do we want? To lose weight. When do we want it? Now, or as quickly as possible without passing out," said most women, every summer.

Unfortunately, in terms of supply and demand, there's massive demand for quick-fix weight loss products and a whole host of (in my opinion) shady businesses looking to hook you up with a bag of magic bean supplements or enchanted lamp shake shaker that you vigorously rub to get your wish of dropping a few pounds. The scariest thing is the salespeople for these 'miracle' products won't stop you in a shopping centre or stare back at you in magazines. They're on your Facebook - someone you went to school with or worked with in that summer job you got sacked from for stealing a box of something. It's a familiar face, someone you have friends in common with, and that comforting familiarity is all part of the ruse.

It's hard to imagine anyone taking them seriously, but you may have noticed your social media being flooded with 'before and after' pictures for diet products. Supplements, meal replacement systems and wraps are currently the biggest fads. At best, the results are achieved through the trickery women's magazines have employed for years. Spoiler alert: Kerry Katona was still scranning all those beef curries before her big 'my bikini body success' reveal. Lighting, fake tan, posing and switching ill-fitting grey undies for a sexy two-piece and heels, hell - even smiling can make you drop stones in a matter of minutes. At worst, it's someone else in the second photo (including some particular laughable examples where the diet supplements have also caused all tattoos to disappear and the headless 'success story' to shrink or grow a few inches). Miracles indeed. Several fitness models have spoken out against their photos being used as 'afters', and many real diet success stories (where women have lost several stones over a year or longer) have been complained that their images are being used to promote diet wraps.

Over the last few years the popularity of Herbalife and more recently Juice Plus (which markets itself as 'the next best thing to fruit and vegetables'. Cool story bro.) have been hard to ignore. The social life cycle is invariably the same. You'll notice someone on your Facebook trying it out and within weeks they'll announce that they are so convinced by the powers of the products that they've started distributing them to 'help others'. That's the first scenario. Second is within weeks all mentions of the brand will stop as they quietly fall off the wagon, moving on to a different diet or return to normal eating (and to their normal weight). Previous blog posts on this very topic always end in a tirade of angry comments from people who furiously disagree, but I'd bet your meal replacement shake that, if pressed, you'd discover they are distributors of the product in question, with a financial incentive for their passionate defence and shining endorsements.

As such, I happened upon a similar product that has just been launched in the UK. It wasn't being multi-level marketed, it was available directly from their website. It was a shake system that claimed in 14 days you could lose up to 10lbs. For four days you had three shakes and nothing else and then you started to replace shakes with low calorie meals, before going on to a maintenance programme to keep up the results. As much as I'm starting to accept a balanced healthy diet and exercise are pretty much the only thing that works for sustainable weight loss, I'm still always looking for that easy way out. Who wouldn't rather lose 10lbs in a fortnight without having to make much effort than one or two pounds every week for months with hard work? When I sipped the shake on the first morning I was done. Ground-up chalk infused with the essence of sour milk is a polite description. Emailing the PR to 'confess' that I wouldn't be able to complete the course without writing a scathing review I was utterly dumbfounded when she got back to me with a long email, citing their nutritionist who accused me of having a bad diet and therefore struggling with detoxing and also stating that I might 'learn to like it'. As a journalist that's juiced several times for features (and once for fun) and a yo-yo dieter that's given most fad diets a go, I'm well-versed in spending that initial few days surviving on tiny portions of health food and pictures of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in a bikini. As far as 'learning to like' it is concerned, if our minds were that powerful, wouldn't we all just 'learn to like' our bodies? If something is making me gag why would I continue to consume it, in some kind of dietary Stockholm Syndrome?

Subliminally marketing misery and body shame and then selling us purported happiness is shameful. Trading rock-bottom self esteem for 'cures' at sky-high prices is wrong. Choosing to do it through the familiarity of social media shows the power we've allowed Facebook and Instagram to hold over our perception of the world. There's concrete proof that the rise of selfies has contributed to a new self-esteem crisis among women. Is it a coincidence that companies like Herbalife and Juice Plus encourage their salespeople to use social media to document their weight loss journey? But does this stop so many of us from wasting our money on quick-fix 'miracle' products? You'll bet your Acai berry tablets it doesn't.