It's been an ugly quarantine. To absorb the stresses that COVID-19 has leveled upon us, after a great start to the year, we have led ourselves off a health cliff, each of us individually, privately, and embarrassingly left to our own devices to eat junk, gain weight and feel absolutely slothful.

We need help, collectively, to pull out of this diet tailspin. While no one is blaming or judging us for turning to unhealthy foods -- over 1/3 of Americans report that they are eating more junk food now, according to one survey -- we all need a "jump-start" to stop stress eating and start getting healthy again.

Even this thought is followed by a guilt chaser. Is it "okay" to care about love handles while people are still being hospitalized?  Yes, and it's actually legit. No one benefits when we all go down the tubes, healthwise, least of all our loved ones who will have to take care of us when we get sick from all this over-eating. Think of it as your job to be healthy now. It is time to get it back together.

Enter the diet that mimics fasting, but that still allows you to eat

If you want to lose weight quickly, and you don't want to do it by Intermittent Fasting, you may want to try a diet that mimics fasting, but still allows you to eat, as the ProLon Diet does. Created by Valter Longo, Ph.D., the director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, the ProLon Diet is what he calls a "Fasting Mimicking Diet," (FMD). It allows the body to burn calories as if you're fasting, but do so while still eating about 800 calories a day, all plant-based, and all nutrient-dense foods and elixirs.

Jennifer Aniston is reported to have used this diet to get slim before the Golden Globes

First, let's get something out of the way: Jennifer Aniston was seen carrying one of the ProLon water bottles in the days leading up to the 2020 Golden Globes and the speculation was that she was using the ProLon 5 day Diet to get in her best shape possible before:

A. Running into her ex Brad Pitt and

B. Taking the stage to accept her widely anticipated award for her starring role in Apple TV's production, The Morning Show.

C. We all thought she looked amazing that night.

Score one for ProLon. Other stars who have done this super strict diet: Eva Longoria, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the diet was even featured on Netflix's show, The Goop Lab.

But more relevant is the fact that the ProLon Diet is built on sound science

The science behind the diet was developed by Longo, author of The Longevity Diet, to help patients stave off disease and increase longevity by encouraging the body to go into a process called autophagy, where cells literally clean house when they are not otherwise busy metabolizing food. Studies show that this natural "cleaning process" helps the body's immune system shunt away cancer cells (or pre-cancerous cells) as well as broken virus cells and other unhealthy metabolic compounds. Autophagy is believed to help your body's natural disease-fighting function and fasting or near-fasting triggers it. In just five days on the ProLon you will see and feel the difference -- and though Longo focused his plant-based eating plans on the promise of health and longevity, reversing disease and dialing down risks for cancer and heart disease, this diet works to lose weight effectively.

You can do anything for 5 days, right? (You, not me. I failed at it!)

Sign us up. I was lucky enough to have the ProLon Diet kit sent to me. I am not going to lie it is somewhat intimidating to open your white boxes and see slim little packets and think: Wait, is that all I get to eat today? Two vegetable soups, a small packet of olives, two small bars, and some teas? Where are the meals, people? Then you start to eat. First a bar, then a soup, a tea, the olives, another soup, another bar, another tea. And before you get through your second L Bar you realize this is doable, In fact, the soups and bars are delicious, satisfying, and making the tea has a feeling of ritual about it. This diet is fun. There are cute packets and bottles and fun little treats (I loved all the L Bars), and the olives are surprisingly satisfying as a substitute for your usual savory snack. Every evening I am used to reaching into a large bag of salt and vinegar chips. The olives prevented that from happening.

It's a diet that is both strict and forgiving since it gives you plenty of occasions to eat but only a total of 800 calories a day. Longo answered my questions about how and why he created it, why it works, and how it famously "mimics fasting" while still allowing you to eat.

The diet is a great way to "strict up" and get back on track after a quarantine period of chips, cookies, treats, and living and working from a few feet away from the fridge. With a wine glass in hand by 6 p.m. nightly.

True confession. I failed at this diet. Every day I tried it I started strong. Ate the supplement (though I hate pills and am passionately anti-supplement.) I made the tea, munched the L-Bar (so far so good), and heated up my soup. All yummy. Then, at about 3 p.m, day after day I went off the reservation: Rye bread, cookies, and popcorn of my own making. I was bad at this diet. But I don't blame the diet. I blame me. I didn't have it in me. But if you pay for it and go for it, you will succeed. I believe in you! Go ProLon or go home. I guess I went home.

You can purchase your ProLon diet here.

The Beet's Q and A with Dr. Longo

Q: How does this diet mimick fasting?

VL: You eat the bare minimum of calories for a day so that your body is tricked into getting enough to not be miserable. It takes about five days to achieve ketosis. In this process, your old cells end up being eaten by your new cells.

Q: What do the five days consist of? 

VL: The first day you get the most calories about 1,000 and decrease your calories each day, You wean your body off and the last day you eat the least amount of calories.

Q: What do you eat to mimic fasting?

VL: In the morning, you eat the fast bar which is made for intermittent fasting so your body doesn't recognize you are breaking fast. Besides the bar, there are olives, crackers, tea and soup which you eat during the five days. If you've ever done a soup diet, it's essentially like that.

Q: How can people renew their motivation from home? 

VL: The first fast mimicking nutrition program that is scientifically designed to mimic fasting to provide the body the benefits of cell regeneration and rejuvenation, weight loss, and improved metabolic balance.

Q: What is ProLon?

VL: The 5-day program is called ProLon and it has been tried by Jennifer Aniston, Eva Longoria, Kate Hudson, and Gwyneth Paltrow, whose experience was featured in Netflix’s The goop lab.

It is well-timed right now since it keeps you from going to the store, requires no planning, gives you back control of your eating habits, provides nutrients the body needs right now, and the food is shelf-stable.