This week, I decided to experiment with the ‘Mono Diet’. This is not one that I have come across in terms of knowing people who have done it, however it was one of the top 10 most googled diets of 2016.
Mono dieters will only eat one type of food per meal or food group per day. There are different ways that people approach this diet. Extreme cases of the mono diet include bloggers such as ‘Freelee the Banana girl’, who sometimes ate 51 bananas a day. In most cases though, people only eat one food group, replicating the diet of a fruitarian but even more strict because one meal only consists of one type of food, such as eating three bananas for breakfast. A different take on this diet that I preferred to test out was the idea of ‘mono meals’. This gives more flexibility and is more healthy than the other two branches of the diet, since you can eat protein rich foods for breakfast, fruits for lunch, and vegetables for dinner (as an example).
What are the positive and negative aspects of this diet?
As dieting goes, it makes things pretty simple in terms of what you’re going to eat. Many of us ask ourselves the question, ‘what am I going to eat for dinner?’, and the answer isn’t always clear because there’s so much choice. Mono dieters on the other hand don’t have much to choose from, so there’s not much hassle when it comes to choosing and making dinner. This is a more practical stance though. Clearly, the diet reduces calorie intake, and weight loss does occur at a very fast pace. This sounds like a dream to those who want a summer body fast, however with any diet that leads to fast weight loss, there are consequences.
Malnourishment is extremely likely if you only eat a specific food group or type of food for several days/weeks. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that you’ll be missing out on important vitamins and nutrients if you’re only eating bananas for most of the week. Not only this, but muscle loss is likely too, which can result in a slower metabolism and weight gain when you resume your normal eating habits.
My one day experience on the diet
I opted for the easier spectrum of the diet, whereby I didn’t restrict myself to just bananas or just fruits for the whole day. This was to test how it feels to go about normal day-to-day routines on the diet, and see whether it could be a sustainable choice for a long term weight loss goal.
I felt disheartened. Usually I enjoy avocados, but with eggs and toasts – not completely by itself. Sure, salt and pepper helps, but it was so boring eating an avocado for breakfast. I decided that I can’t live without snacks, so I swapped the oreo’s for dates, which wasn’t too much of a sacrifice. Naturally, I was pretty hungry so the dates served as a second breakfast.
Once again, the thought of only eating apples for lunch was quite depressing. All around me, people were eating lovely, filling meals. All I had were apples – how appetising. I already knew several hours into my day how boring a life of mono eating must be. I find a lot of joy from exciting and adventurous food, therefore this seems like a joyless existence. Admittedly, I had to buy a homemade biscuit from the greek shop down the road just to spice up my day a bit.
So… does only eating pasta count as a mono meal? I decided it most definitely did. I can’t tell you how good it was to have something stodgy and non-healthy. I know I probably cheated on the diet a bit there, but I had already concluded that this was a very unsustainable diet. I can’t seem to justify putting oneself through such a restrictive and quite frankly boring diet in order to lose a few pounds for the summer. It’s not even very healthy, so to me there just doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to the mono diet.
I’d also like to point out something else. I’m no psychotherapist, therefore I cannot tell you whether someone may suffer from an eating disorder or not. However, I do believe that people with eating disorders are able to disguise their problem by labeling their eating behaviour as ‘mono dieting’, or any other one of these extremely restrictive diets. Since such diets have been glamorised by Instagram and are seen as trying to achieve a more ‘healthy’ body by cutting out processed foods/getting back to basics, people are far less likely to question whether there is an issue of eating disorders involved. Take Freelee the Banana Girl for example. She stated that she only drank banana smoothies for 10-14 days, and she only ate melons for a month. If one of your friends was putting their body through this, I’m sure you would express your worry for them. Whilst Freelee makes claims that verge on the ‘it’s more natural’ argument, we must remember it’s not at all. Your body is able to digest different types of foods, and your body can still heal itself perfectly well (if not better) when you consume a variety of foods, not just one, as she claims in one of her lectures.
It’s also important to remember that many psychologists have stated that a factor as to why patients with anorexia carry on refusing to eat is because it gives the individual a sense of control amidst an uncontrollable life/world (please do research this yourself if you question it). Of course Freelee is eating, but she is eating in a way that is extremely controlling and allows no room for deviance. Whilst she may not suffer from anorexia, there is more research now into diets like mono eating or raw food diets as to whether this could count as another branch of eating disorders.
I find it important to highlight this as I believe that such labels and blogs/instagram pages may be hiding a more deep rooted issue. What’s even more worrying is that it is being presented to the masses as a positive thing, when in fact they may just be educating people to adopt a negative outlook on their own healthy eating behaviours.
In conclusion, the mono diet neither seems sustainable nor healthy, and is quite likely to lead to weight gain when normal eating behaviours are resumed. If the diet does interest you though, I would recommend that you only do it for a day or two a week, or have a mono meal once a day so that you do not experience malnourishment nor muscle loss.