How Being A 'Fruitarian' Almost Killed Bret And Ruined His Life
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but Bret's fruit-only diet almost killed him.
The 30-year-old weighed just 52 kilograms at his lightest after eating nothing but fruit for more than a year.
Even vegetables were off-limits in Bret's extreme diet that saw him lose 20kg by eating between 10 to 25 serves of fruit a day.
"In the morning I would eat four to six oranges. I would eat a new fruit every hour. I went through a phase where I only ate apples for three weeks and had a watermelon fast where I only ate watermelon for 10 days," Bret told 10 daily.
Bret, who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia, along with cognitive issues like brain fog and memory loss. He decided to give the 'fruitarian' diet a go after stumbling across health blogs praising the lifestyle.
"In my desperation, I figured I would try it because nothing else was working. The diet became an obsession and consumed me, creating more health problems than I had to begin with," Bret said.
"I joined Facebook groups, read blogs and watched YouTube videos about fruitarian detox. I became convinced that every little issue in my body was the sign of some horrible health defect that needed to get fixed by eating only fruit," he said.
Brett experienced a host of side effects caused by his nutritionally-deficient diet. They included organ pain, soreness, mental blackouts, fatigue, dizziness and nausea. He also suffered from weakness and depression and lost 20kg over 13 months.
"It's six months later and I'm still recovering. The road back has been scary, painful and extremely difficult [and] the psychological and physical damage is unimaginable. Being a fruitarian wrecked my life," Bret said
Nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan likened fruit-only diets to eating disorders. She said the body can only cope with these "ridiculous detoxes" for a couple of days and that a long-term fruitarian diet could be lethal.
"Fruits don't give you all the nutrients you need. You won't be getting enough protein, zinc, minerals, vitamins or fat," Dr McMillan said.
"Eating only fruit long term will mean you'll be lethargic, tired, your brain won't work efficiently. You'll have immune problems, lose muscle and could experience malnutrition," she said.
She said a vegan or vegetarian diet is fine as long as adequate protein needs are met through plant-based sources.
Bret quit his destructive diet after joining a Facebook support group for recovering fruitarians. He compares the fruitarian movement to a "cult" and is thankful he quit before the diet killed him.
Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 ED HOPE (33 4673). For urgent support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.