Despite an overwhelming interest in healthy living, many people in America are still turning to diets to regulate their body weight. While there are diets that consist of eating only a certain type of food for a prolonged period of time, what is known as a mono meal has gotten confusing publicity within this past year leading many to believe it is harmful. Let me clear up a few things…
A mono meal is one that consists entirely of one type of food, typically fruit. An example of a mono meal would be a dozen bananas, 6 mangos, or an entire watermelon eaten in one sitting. There are a few reasons why people choose to eat mono meals and the benefits are plentiful. One of the main upsides to eating such a meal is that it gives your digestive system a break. Having only one thing to break down can help settle your stomach. If you are sick, a mono meal can help clean out your insides and speed up the healing process. Chronic food allergies can also be put on pause if you stop consuming various types of food and focus on one thing that you know your body can handle. Some might even go on what’s called mango or banana island which means they will only eat that one food all day long. I can say from experience that doing this definitely has a calming effect on the body, mind and spirit. Another awesome thing to note is that if you are only eating one type of fruit for your meal you are, by default, avoiding the many synthetic chemicals that are added to many packaged and processed foods (bonus if you’re eating fruit of the organic variety). Yet, despite the many positive aspects of having mono meals, this way of eating is catching a lot of shade.
In an article entitled The Mono Meal Plan Is One Fad Diet You Shouldn’t Follow on Shape.com for Shape magazine, the “fad diet” has gone under fire for being unhealthy since, “We need to eat a variety of foods because they each provide different nutrients essential to the functioning of our bodies,” says Manual Villacorta, R.D. The article goes on to talk about Freelee the Banana Girl (a popular health advocate within the vegan community) and mentions that she eats 30-50 bananas every day and nothing else. Anyone who follows Freelee on Youtube knows that that is absolutely untrue. Not only does she eat more than just bananas but she is not even 100% raw vegan. Just click on a few of her videos and you can see that she incorporates a wide variety of foods into her diet (including exotic fruits most of us have probably never heard of such as durian, jackfruit, persimmons and more). She is also in undeniably great shape and is well fed, consuming 2,500+ calories a day (jealous?).
As with many mainstream magazines, the author of the aforementioned article likely did not do extensive research on what a mono meal is or on what Freelee the Banana girl actually advocates. This is not surprising since the thesis of the article was that mono meals are bad and mentioning the benefits might be counterproductive (unless the author wanted to have a well-rounded article that showed both sides of the story). The thing is, there is a difference between fruit fasting and having a mono meal.
While there are people who do fruit fast, that does not necessarily represent Freelee or the majority of vegans out there. Not everyone who eats a mono meal is actually depriving themselves. There are retreats where people fast under supervision and many claim various benefits from this practice, including mental clarity and a higher level of spirituality, but this is still something completely different from having a mono meal for breakfast. I personally do not recommend fasting unless one is sick. For example, when I recently had food poisoning, I refrained from eating all day until my stomach started feeling more calm. Had I forced myself to eat, I likely would not have kept down my food. When I began eating again, simple fruits were great for reintroducing my stomach to solid foods without putting it under unnecessary stress.
A mono meal is definitely dangerous if it turns into a rigid, long-term way to eat only one thing forever and ever, amen (which would mean that it is no longer just a meal). Needing a variety of foods in ones diet is absolutely necessary to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals and anyone who does not understand that is doing their body a huge disservice. Any diet or lifestyle that encourages someone to restrict calories, nutrients, or variety is not sustainable and will cause damage to the body of anyone following it, over time. Eating various mono meals with different fruit options, however, is not an extreme form of restriction. Consuming a smoothie made with 10 bananas for breakfast, having 6 peaches as a brunch-time snack, eating 6 mangos for lunch, and so on will introduce various vitamins into your diet as well as water, fiber, and the carbs your body needs to function.
Side note: Making sure to include healthy fats in your diet will also aide in proper absorption of nutrients and should not be neglected.
Mono meals eaten occasionally are meant to be a cleanse, not a strict eating regimen. This is not a “fad diet” but is a way to reset your body’s digestive tract. To compare a mono meal to a chocolate or milk diet, as the author of the article did, is not only absurd but quite irresponsible. Cow’s milk is produced for a baby calf to help it grow to the size of a 1,500lbs cow, contains blood, puss, sometimes feces, and is a result of extreme suffering inflicted upon helpless animals. Beyond that, milk from cows contains saturated fat, cholesterol, and 0% fiber (although it does also contain over 10% of potassium, calcium, vitamin B-12). Bananas, on the other hand, contain virtually no saturated fat, 0% cholesterol, contain over 10% of fiber, potassium, vitamin B-6 and vitamin C. So, while both contain nutrients that are good for the body, the obvious difference is that one aides in moving toxins out of the body via fiber while the other can contribute to clogged arteries and other health problems when consumed in excess. So… I think it’s more than safe to say that milk island is not even in the same hemisphere as banana island.
The article goes on to mention that a fruitarian diet (in which one consumes only fruit) famously sent Ashton Kutcher to the hospital in 2013 but mentions nothing of whether or not he was properly following the lifestyle and also assumes that only fruitarians eat mono meals. And, of course, the article fails to give examples of the many fruitarians, vegans, and raw vegans who have maintained a healthy weight, immune system, and balance of nutrients with exemplary medical tests to show.
Another argument the article makes against mono meals is that, “mono dieting can also limit your socialization.” I don’t know about you but I consider my health to be more important than my social life. If you happen to associate with people who make you feel like you can’t be yourself, it may be time to start hanging out somewhere else. But, again, the idea behind this entire article is that mono meals are a long-term diet fad. If you are going to mango island once a month I highly doubt you’re going to lose friends over it. And having a mono meal every once in awhile isn’t likely to do “serious damage to your health,” as the article claims, if you are regularly including a wide array of nutrient sources into your diet.
Peaches, plums, apricots, oranges…those are just some of the basics. With the endless variety of vegetation on this planet, occasionally eating a mono meal, or eating various different mono meals throughout the day, can actually be quite fun and help you gain a better appreciation for fruit. The idea that I can eat as many mangos as I want in one sitting makes me ecstatic and I know I don’t have to worry about feeling sick after I do it.
We fear what we do not understand. It makes sense for someone who has grown up in a society that pushes meat and dairy on us as a necessity, and treats fruits and vegetables as a side dish, to be weary of the idea of consuming nature’s candy in excess. I don’t blame people who write these articles for falling under the spell that so many other Americans do, trusting that we are in good hands. But we have to open our eyes to the truth about the food industry; it is run by corporations. There is a huge conflict of interest, here, which means the people in charge of what we are eating are less concerned about our health and more interested in living comfortably. Fruit is so incredibly good for us, I am still in shock every time I hear of someone suggesting otherwise. Not everything needs to be done in moderation and some things aren’t too good to be true. You can have your cake and eat it, too… that is, if it’s entirely made of fruit!
Photo Credit: Lola O Photography