Fruitarianism: What happens when you eat nothing but raw fruit – and why do people do it?

Lifestyle Writer Rachel Hosie tried existing off fruit alone, and it did not go well

Rachel Hosie
Tuesday 07 March 2017 10:54 GMT

Fruitarianism is not a diet, but a way of life.

It’s not about losing weight or detoxing - it’s a lifestyle.

As someone who’s tried it out, however, I can say that I also think it’s bonkers.

Fruitarianism involves - as its name would suggest - eating nothing but fruit (with a sprinkling of nuts and seeds thrown in).

People do it to different degrees, but the general rule is that your diet should consist of at least 75% raw fruit (by weight), and 25% nuts and seeds. It’s considered a subset of raw veganism. Yikes.

Most famously, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs spent some time as a fruitarian (he claimed it fueled his creativity). But when actor Ashton Kutcher tried to follow a fruitarian diet for a month before playing Jobs in a film, he ended up in hospital.

However it’s perhaps on Instagram where the lifestyle is most visible.

There are just under 475,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag #fruitarian - the photos mainly feature young, lithe women, fruit-topped smoothie bowls and beautiful fruit platters. It’s a lifestyle that looks healthy and glamorous.

Now I really like fruit, so even though I never thought I could be fruitarian for life (because pizza and burgers and cake), I thought I could easily give it a go for a week.

But reader, I was wrong.

I managed three days as a fruitarian and had to stop because I was feeling so ill.

Here’s what happened:

Day 1

I had a big fruit salad and a glass of orange juice for breakfast. An hour later, I was already hungry so had a banana. By 11.30am I was so hungry I had a Nakd bar (it was just nuts and dried fruits, so not twisting the rules too much).

By 12 noon I did not feel well. I was bloated but hungry and couldn’t believe how much I’d eaten. Fruit does not fill you up.

At 12.45pm I had some dried fruit crisps and an hour and a half later I had an avocado and a smoothie for ‘lunch’. All I can say is thank God avocados are technically fruit because there’s no way I could survive without anything savoury, and I have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know.

Over the course of the afternoon I had some dried pineapple crisps and coconut water, and I was already sick of fruit.

I had a glass of wine at a restaurant launch party that evening - I couldn’t find anything in the rules that said whether alcohol was or wasn’t allowed but I say that wine is just grapes so totally fits fruitarianism.

It was delicious, but I was conscious of the fact that I hadn’t eaten any carbs that day and could very easily get utterly sloshed, so I figured it was best to stop at one glass.

I went home and had an apple and a banana with various all-natural different nut butters (I highly recommend Pip & Nut) which was actually incredibly delicious. It was like eating fondue, but healthier.

By the end of the day, I counted up that I’d had 14 portions of fruit, which cannot be healthy. I didn’t even want to think about how much sugar I’d consumed...

Day 2

I started the day with a smoothie (Pack'd frozen fruit mixes are great), a bowlful of berries and half an avocado. But by mid-morning I was hungry again (is there something wrong with me?), so I had another smoothie.

My tummy really hurt. I had some seeds.

At lunchtime I had an avocado and my stomach was seriously painful afterwards. I was a day and a half in and my body was not happy.

I felt bloated, gassy (sorry) and lightheaded. I had another fruit and nut bar, a pear and a banana over the course of the afternoon, but by the time evening came, I really wanted a pizza.

That evening I couldn’t face socialising and having to resist delicious things that weren’t fruit so flaked on my evening plans and went home. Fruitarianism is not sociable.

I decided to try and trick my body into thinking it was eating something other than fruit by making ‘pancakes’ that consisted simply of mashed banana, peanut butter, flaxmeal and a pinch of cinnamon.

They were genuinely delicious and felt substantial. Would eat again.

I went to bed feeling incredibly bloated - I genuinely thought I could pass for six months pregnant.

Day 3

I woke up with a headache which didn’t go away all morning. I ate much the same things that I’d eaten for the past two days, but I was not enjoying it and my body was not happy. I was in serious pain.

That evening I threw in the towel and had a bowlful of pasta with veggies. Needless to say, it tasted fantastic.

So it turns out fruitarianism isn’t for me, - and I didn’t even follow it strictly - but is it really for anyone? Why do people do it?

There are various reasons why people follow a fruitarian diet, including:

  • To avoid cooking
  • To detox
  • To reduce calories
  • To be more environmentally-friendly
  • To be ‘morally superior’

Many fruitarians believe we should only eat foods that have fallen from a tree, which would actually be incredibly difficult in today’s world.

Everyone kept asking me if my fruitarianism had resulted in, ahem, my becoming better acquainted with the bathroom, but for me it totally didn’t. If anything, the opposite happened. It was not comfortable.

Some people say fruitarianism gives them a flat stomach. It did not work for me.

It’s an incredibly extreme diet and not recommended by many dieticians and nutritionists: “Fruitarians often have low levels of vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lead to anemia, fatigue, and a weak immune system,” dietician Lisa DeFazio told Broadly.

Restricting your diet to just one or two food groups is not considered healthy. And even if you love fruit, your body may not love it just as much.

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