Yes, you guessed it, following all the interviews for the documentary, it was time to give fruitarianism a go for myself. After speaking to two people who say it’s the best change they’ve ever made to their lives, why wouldn’t I want to try it?
Down to some kind of disconnect with reality, I didn’t fully realise that I had planned my experiment the week before Christmas. A time of year renowned for it’s decadent sweet treats and over-indulging, this certainly presented a challenge.
Nonetheless I was keen to see what all the fuss was about, and whether I’d soon become a convert.
I was fairly positive about the week ahead. Eating just fruit? Piece of cake! Oh wait, I can’t eat cake… maybe not then. Fine.
My housemate offered me a custard cream – nothing unusual there, we love a good biccie in our house. In fact, it was a social experience for us, we bonded over our mutual love for the revered sugary snack. In a momentary lapse, I forgot that I couldn’t eat them. As I reached over to get one it dawned on me, and I jerked back in disgust. Blimey, close shave.
Things got very intense when I realised I couldn’t have a cup of tea. Like the true Brit that I am, tea is practically water, but for a whole week it was going to be off the menu. I was livid.
I’m sure you’re dying to know what I did eat then. Well on day 1, I ate a melon, a cucumber, an avocado, an apple, and ten bananas… and I felt full. I was fine. No sweat. Except I was somewhat dissatisfied. This wasn’t hunger, it was just a feeling – as though something was missing. It was probably all the salt that I load my food with. It didn’t help when my friends came round and brought a multi-bag of Walker’s (my favourite) and I couldn’t have a single crisp. You truly only miss something when it’s gone. Oh well, I retorted. It’s only a week right?
Day two was a repeat of the first day. It wasn’t particularly exciting, and by my second 10 banana smoothie (that’s right, it consists only of bananas and water, yum) I was sick of the gloopy texture and the stodgy feeling it gave me. Things started out okay that day, but by early evening, things were beginning to slip. I had a splitting headache, and couldn’t concentrate on my work… but it was day two right? What could you really tell in that time?
Time to go back to Northampton for Christmas. Day 3 was somewhat testing, and trying to lug a suitcase filled with clothes for three weeks, a video camera, a (HEAVY) tripod and a rucksack 140 miles on the train wasn’t a particularly joyous experience having only eaten half a melon before departure. It was only later, when I did a bit of research, that I found out half a melon contains about 20 calories. So en route, I ate 8 bananas in a row. You can picture the horrified faces of the people around me. Was I going to OVERDOSE on potassium?!
I did actually wonder myself how many bananas was too many bananas… and then one of my Twitter followers actually linked me to this article. Turns out, you’d need to eat about 400 bananas to overdose on potassium. Don’t think I could manage that.
— Simon Wheeler (@WheelerSimon) December 17, 2015
By day four, eating only fruit was starting to really grate on me. Not a sweet tooth by nature, it was repetitive and uninspiring gorging on fruit, and I was torn between eating lots to satiate my hunger, or not enough to avoid eating continually. I felt terrible. I was dehydrated, had a headache, and felt as though my jaw was aching from not chewing anything harder than soft fruit for four days.
That evening, it was my friend’s 21st birthday party, and I was on cranberry juice. I’m not saying I need a drink to enjoy myself, but I had to waiver my right to a free glass of champagne (probably cava) to stick to this diet. Speaking to friends, they couldn’t believe what I was doing, and everyone wanted to know about it it. It reminded me of what it was like when I first turned vegetarian, but on a much more intense scale. People were absolutely reviled by its very concept, was I mad? Some were even concerned that I might become too thin and would become obsessed with it. I definitely wouldn’t.
I can’t really remember what happened on day 5. I’m presuming that’s because by that point, everything was getting blurry and I had a real case of fuzzy brain. Day 6 was the real breaking point for me. I was miserable, exhausted and weak. I had a high temperature, and was so restless and agitated that I started taking my anger out on others. I had absolutely no desire to eat the fruits in front of me, I was sick of it. I wanted to eat something dry, even bland – anything that wasn’t sweet.
I ended up getting so hungry that I decided to walk to the corner shop at 8pm on a Sunday. The only thing I could find that qualified on the diet was a bag of mixed fruit and nuts. I couldn’t tell if that was a reflection on how unhealthy the options given to us are, or of how restrictive this diet was.
My mum didn’t want me to carry on. I didn’t want to carry on. What if I just ate when no one was looking? It would be like that great philosophical question: does a falling tree really make a noise if no one is there to hear it? Well would I really have failed the fruit diet if no one else knew?
I looked gaunt and ill. I checked my weight. I forgot to weigh myself before hand, but I usually fluctuate within a range of three pounds. By my guestimate, I’d lost somewhere between 5 and 8 pounds in a week. I’m pretty slight as it is, so this put me in the very underweight category according to BMI.
With one more day to go, I stuck to it. If Seb and Owen could go whole years, surely I could manage a week.
By day 7, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I’d had enough. All of the turmoil was not worth the supposed benefits.
When the time came, the first thing I ate was a slice of toast, and then I made a cup of tea. Then I had a mince pie. Then I had some crumpets. Then I had two takeaways. Yep, I was eating worse than ever before.
With hind sight, I can now think about the experience a little more rationally. At the time, I thought it was the worst week of my life. I regretted every second that I agreed to do it… but you could argue that I went in with a relatively closed mind. I never went into it with the intention of sticking to it, so the fact that it was a temporary measure was always on my mind. Moreover, it was a completely radical dietary transition. I know almost for a fact that things might have gone differently had I transitioned into it over a matter of months, and trialed it for at least 30 days – as per Seb’s recommendations. It would be likely that I would not have reacted quite as adversely as I did.
Yet, I still don’t think it would be for me. Right now, I’m not in a place where a raw diet, let alone a fruitarian diet is high on my priority list. Maybe that’s just because I’m young and remain unconcerned by finding the optimal diet. Or maybe it’s just because I’d rather find a more practical balance when it comes to diet, where the way I eat doesn’t hinder my social interactions, or interfere with my professional life. I don’t know. Either way, you won’t see my living on just fruit again, you can bank on it.