It's official: a strange banana-eating phenom is taking over dieters Down Under.
Last week, we brought you the story of a pregnant Aussie blogger, Loni Jane Anthony, who ate about 10 bananas a day. This week, we bring you the story of a non-pregnant Aussie blogger peddling a "30 bananas a day" diet.
"Freelee the Banana Girl," as she's fittingly called, has renewed fresh debate about extreme fruit diets taking a good thing way too far. And sadly, she's not acting alone. Through her website and YouTube channel, Freelee has launched a movement, with some 20,000 followers joining her extreme plan.
While it's hard to imagine getting behind such a restrictive diet, it does make some enticing promises. For instance, Freelee encourages her diet participants to eat as many bananas (or other fruits, such as watermelons) as they want; in one of her videos, she even binges on 51 bananas in a single sitting. The diet is also peddled as a cure-all with the power to curb everything from depression to chronic fatigue to irregular bowel movements.
Plus, it's hard to argue with the power of the branding, replete with a hot spokeswoman/founder, catchy name and less-than-subtle sexual subtext.
So what's the problem? Where. to. begin.
For one thing, Freelee hasn't backed up her claims with any actual medical input—just the testimonies of followers. Actual doctors and experts have claimed the diet could deprive the body of essential nutrients, because—newsflash!—even bananas aren't packed with everything needed for sound health. Considering Freelee has confessed to a background of eating disorders, this medical community backlash is particularly worrisome.
True, the diet claims to be based off something called 80-10-10, a doctor-designed plan that encourages eating 80% fruits and veggies, 10% protein and 10% fat (and which, interestingly, pregnant blogger Anthony claimed to follow as well). But 1) this rather restrictive diet has itself come under fire for extremity, and 2) the doctor behind it, Douglas M. Graham, has denounced any association with Freelee.
It's additionally worth noting that extreme fruit or veggie diets have a history of raising concern. Case in point: it's been reported that Apple's Steve Jobs would sometimes eat nothing but carrots or apples for weeks at a time. When Ashton Kutcher, in preparation for his role as Jobs in a recent biopic, ate nothing but fruit for a month, it led to a medical scare.
I ended up in the hospital two days before we started shooting the [Steve Jobs] movie. I was doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was terrifying, considering everything. —Ashton Kutcher
What could Kutcher have been hinting at? Perhaps that Jobs, of course, died from pancreatic cancer.
Bottom line: any restrictive diet, even if it involves something as healthy as fruits or veggies, should be met with serious skepticism. And if a diet sounds bananas, well . . . it probably is.
Image of Freelee playing up the bananas-sex angle: Instagram