What’s so great about Mono-meals?

Mono-mealing might seem like some new fad, but in actual fact it’s the most traditional, conservative way of eating on the planet. It’s also the key to perfect digestion, the nail in the coffin to addictive eating and, according to many, the path to spiritual enlightenment.

Let’s explore the benefits of mono-eating, why we’re designed to eat only one food at a time, the myth of variety, and how to eat mono…

What is mono-eating? mango mono

Mono-eating is simply the practice of eating one particular food for an entire meal (say pears, for instance), in sufficient quantity to produce satiation until the next meal.

Some people might choose to go on an extended period of mono-eating, where they only consume one food in every meal for an entire week or month, but this is not necessary to attain the great benefits of simply eating one food per meal.

We are designed for mono-eating

Before the invention and practice of agriculture humans would have eaten their meals from one tree at a time.  So, if they happened upon a tree of apples, they would have stopped and eaten their fill before moving on.

They never would have thought, “Gee, I feel like apple pie today.  Why don’t I just collect these apples here and then walk two kilometres to where I know there’s an almond tree, pick a whole bunch, grind them up, then find some dates from another continent and then try to put these three together to make some ‘gourmet raw food apple pie’.

It just would never happen.

And that’s only 3 ingredients.  How about a cooked apple pie with 10 or more ingredients?

It makes sense that our digestive systems are designed to cope with only one food at a time.

Consider the digestion of the ‘humble’ sandwich, usually a combination of bread (starch) with meat or cheese (protein) and possibly a condiment.

Unfortunately starchy foods require an alkaline digestive medium, where protein-rich foods require an acid medium.  If you know your basic science, when acids and bases (alkaline) meet in any situation, including the stomach, they neutralize each other.  Thus, this neutralization causes the digestion of food to be arrested.

With no acids breaking down the food they quickly start to ferment and putrefy, causing gas, bloating and acid reflux. Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 2.13.46 PM

In reality that ‘simple’ sandwich is likely a combination of 10 or more ingredients.  The bread alone has seven (flour, water, milk, eggs, salt, sugar and oil), then add butter and two or three toppings and you have a hugely complex digestive nightmare.

It is little wonder there is an $8 billion a year antacid industry there to help us cope with the results of our poor food combining practices.

The myth of variety

The constant message from government-endorsed nutrition sources is that we must eat a variety of foods to make sure we are meeting our nutrient needs.

While I agree with the concept of variety I don’t agree that we need to achieve variety at every meal in order to meet those needs.  The problem with variety at the level of the meal is that it impedes digestion, thereby also impeding absorption and assimilation of nutrients.

If, however, we eat one food and digest it perfectly, then eat a different food at the next meal, and the next, then we better assimilate the nutrients offered to us by nature, without any of the toxic bi-products of poor digestion.

Variety also often means exciting, flavour-filled meals, which are also filled with stimulants and excito-toxins, encouraging us to overeat.

The benefits of eating mono

  1. Eating mono meals is absolutely the best for optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients.  Eating one food stimulates the perfect digestive response for that particular food and allows for complete digestion.
  2. Eating mono forces you to eat the best quality foods.  You would never put up with a whole meal of unripe bananas or acidic oranges, but if they were disguised by a range of other ingredients you might not be aware of their inferior quality.
  3. Eating mono allows the body to find it’s natural point of satiation.  It triggers the satiety signals in the body and prevents overeating.
  4. Eating mono prevents addiction to stimulation, which comes from sampling a variety of tastes.

How to eat Mono

If you were to ask a raw vegan athlete how many bananas they eat for a mono meal you might fall off your chair when they tell you between a dozen and 18 pieces of fruit.  But not everyone is expected to eat this way.

The quantity of fruit will vary from person to person.  4 to 5 bananas might be the perfect meal-size for a sedentary person or someone just beginning a raw food diet.

You’ll know that you’ve eaten enough of one type of fruit for a meal when…

a)    You get clear signals towards the end of the meal that you’ve had enough.

b)   You feel satiated for 3 to 5 hours after that meal.

We should be aiming for 2 to 3 meals per day – human digestion works best when we eat meals rather than snack all day.

I tend to aim for two mono meals of fruit (breakfast and lunch) and then go for a well-combined salad or soup meal for my dinner meal, when I’m looking for something more savoury.

Conclusion – It might seem like a strange a way to eat at first, and you’ll probably get some odd looks, but after trying it it’s pretty hard to go back.  When you experience the lightness, mental clarity and exuberance that just eating one fruit per meal brings, you’ll want to do it again and again.

Have you tried eating mono, either meal by meal or for extended periods?  Please share your experience in the comments section below…

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Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series.  Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!

  1. Hey Anthea! Great post. I love how I feel after a mono meal. I typically only have fruit mono meals and in the morning (melons, oranges, cherimoyas, berries). I haven’t tried this with vegetables. Have you tried this with greens or veggies? Also, I haven’t tried mono meals for an extended amount of time, but I’d be interested in doing so one day. I’d have to figure out which green or vegetable I would like to eat as a mono-meal or just have to get past my cravings for non-sweet foods after 4pm 🙂

  2. Thanks Diana 🙂 I don’t think I could ever mono greens or veggies because you just couldn’t get the calories in for sustenance. I hear you on the full days of eating mono. Though I have found I can eat full days of mangos. Maybe it’s the higher sodium content than bananas or other sweet fruits, not sure.

  3. Olá 🙂

    Thank you for the article!
    I still haven’t been able to become “raw” and i would like to know if it’s a problem to have a mono meal a day, even if still eat cooked food?!

  4. totally agree, Jane. What could be easier than eating a plate of peaches or a mound of mangos!

  5. Hello Isabel!
    There’s absolutely no problem at including mono meals if you still eat some cooked food, in fact it could actually be a great transition strategy, if you’re wanting to go completely raw. Just make sure that you eat your mono fruit meals in the morning or lunch and then have your cooked food at night, for best digestion. 🙂

  6. good article. I have just been recently “enlightened” with mono eating and I have to tell you that after years of digestive distress and many health related symptoms, this is working for me. And the food tastes better eating it mono-a-mono.

  7. This post belies a great misunderstanding of anthropological history.

    Humans never just walked up to an apple tree, ate their fill and moved on. We’re a social species. We’re hunters and gatherers. Emphasis on the gathering part.

    A mono meal might have been a semi-routine thing for pre-historic man, but it wasn’t the only way to eat by far.

    Humans are tribal, and feeding the tribe was a group effort. The hunters didn’t just go off, kill a boar, eat it in the field and walk back home. They killed it, cleaned it, carried the meat home and shared it. Same with gathering.

    The gatherers might have stopped at that apple tree and eaten their fill, because it only makes sense to do so if there’s more than enough to eat.

    But we also horded. We gathered nuts and fruits and vegetables and piled them up so there would be food for the next day too, if we were lucky to have such abundance.

    In those periods they weren’t concerned about which thing they ate. A fish, an apple, a handful of nuts…eat it all, it’s all fair game.

    This is the same sort of fundamental oversimplification of pre-historical diets that brought us the Paleo fad.

    Mono diets might be beneficial. They might be harmful. It’s certainly not a big deal on an occasional basis, but just as always there’s no magic bullet to weight loss or “healthy eating”.

  8. Thanks for your considered response, Matt. I was really referring to the time before humans had to leave the equitorial forests of Africa, when our diet was primarily fruit, greens, nuts and seeds and the pickings were abundant all year round. I agree that once we left the tropical forests we had to eat all sorts of things to survive, and collaborate in that process, including foods that were not of our biological design. Nowadays we live in an abundant society where we have unbelievable choice about what we can put in our bodies. As with everything, trying before you buy is always recommended. I encourage you to experiment with mono fruit meals, or mono fruit plus tender greens and just notice how your body operates on it. The benefits I and many others have personally experienced are extraordinary.

  9. Hey! Enjoyed reading this post and finding out more benefits of the human digestive system while I sit here and eat 15 dates for breakfast!
    I did the banana island experience a few weeks back and loved it. 4 days on it was enough to clear my skin, gain more mental clarity and feel more energized in my body!
    Definitely doing it again now I have read this, thank you!

  10. Hi Anthea. I am a 63 year old man. For the past 20 years or so, if my digestive system goes out of whack, I will often eat mono meals for a several days and then transition to a diet where I eat properly combined foods. Without fail, this always fixes the problem. Unfortunately I always go back to the normal American diet. Still, I try to watch my combinations a couple times a week. I have noticed that I absolutely feel my best when I do mono meals and proper food combining. I feel this helps with my performance in tennis and cycling. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

  11. I did the 12-day banana diet about a year ago; it included a glass of water every hour, every waking hour; it was fantastic; needs a lot of willpower to keep away from the chips and chocolate, but definitely worth it; I lost weight and felt a whole lot better at the end of the 12 days. Needed a couple of days to get back to normal eating. The best thing that happened was that for at least 20 days after I could feel the cleanness within my system; elimination for 20 days was complete and you could feel it. I am hoping to do that again sometime soon.

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