First off, what the heck is a monomeal?
A monomeal is a meal comprised of one food, usually raw fruits or vegetables. Simple as that! For example, a bowl of fresh pineapple chunks or eight oranges or a smoothie of just bananas (and water) or half a watermelon or a medley of bell pepper slices.
While at first it might sound supremely boring to eat this way, I want to share with you 7 ideas about monomealing that might change your thinking.
1. Eating a Monomeal is Refusing to Alimentarily Multitask
We know that multitasking overtaxes the brain and sets us up for mistakes. Being mindful encourages us to focus on ideally one task, at most two, at any given time. This way our brain can narrow its resources to the task at hand and complete it with thoroughness, clarity, and as much accuracy as possible.
Why would this be any different in the digestive tract?
If we eat a cheese & veggie omelet , bacon, toast with jelly and butter with a side of cut mixed fruit and also juice and coffee…wow, what a multi-enzymatic task cut out for our bodies! Have you ever eaten this and felt tired afterwards?
Different enzymes are needed to break down proteins, carbohydrates, fat and sugars. If too much activity is happening in the digestive tract, acids can cancel out enzymes causing food to ferment or decompose rather than be digested. Undigested food can lead to leaky gut syndrome and a host of other gastrointestinal ailments.
When food is eaten, it is chewed and mixed with saliva which is the first stage of digestion. If the food contains starch then salivary amylase (an enzyme) is secreted. After leaving the mouth, the food passes down the esophagus and into the stomach. Gastric juice is secreted containing primarily hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes. Protein requires a highly acidic medium for the digestive enzyme pepsin to be effective. Starches and fat require a nearly neutral medium for digestion. Salivary amylase is destroyed in the presence of highly acidic gastric juice. Gastric lipase which is secreted for fat digestion is inhibited in the presence of a highly acidic medium.
With so many different kinds of foods going in at one sitting, our body can get VERY tired trying to sort out the different enzymes and digestion times for all these various foods. Some food will not get digested properly causing heartburn, upset stomach, lethargy, and/or other gastrointestinal disturbances.
2. Monomealing Simplifies Life
People eat how they live and vice versa. I like to advise people to make their food only as complicated as they’d like their life to be. What happens on the plate manifests in our lives.
Committing to an occasional or frequent monomeal brings you in tune with simplicity. One texture, one flavor, one color and one experience helps you to hone in on the beauty and, ironically, the simple complexity of one food.
Have you ever sat on the beach and eaten a watermelon until you were full? If so, you’ve eaten a monomeal without knowing it. Most of us have.
Your body will receive this food in oneness & in wholeness, will trigger one enzymatic reaction and will thoroughly and successfully digest it.
Feeding yourself a monomeal is an act of kindness toward your body. What happens in the body resonates outward. As you become more comfortable with monomealing you might find yourself more comfortable with one flower artistically arranged in a vase, reading one book at a time, enjoying one favorite person during dedicated time together.
More, in the way of food, ingredients, flowers, books, or people, does not equate abundance. There is abundance to be found in the depths of simplicity because we see & experience the inherent complexity. Huge paradox, I know. Isn’t it great?
3. Melon: Eat it Alone, or Leave it Alone
Melons digest differently that most foods. Rather than digesting in the stomach, they digest in the intestines. If eaten with other foods, melon (fruit sugar) can stay too long in the stomach and cause fermentation which causes gas. Food needs to digest, not ferment.
Anyone who has ever believed that they are allergic to melons or that melons disagree with them, try a monomeal of melon, ideally as your first meal of the day, and allow it to fully digest before eating anything again. Chances are high that there will be no gastric trouble. (This can work with cucumbers or tomatoes too!)
Melons are a beautiful food. Make a meal out of a melon. Yes, eat the whole thing in one sitting! If melons are your only monomeals, it’ll be a nice, kind experience for your body.
4. Sensory Overload is Detrimental to Peaceful Digestion
While I was transitioning to a high-fruit diet, I was still subscribed to many whole food, delicious recipe newsletters. There became a distinct time when I’d look at the photos accompanying the recipes and I felt that these images were playing tricks on my mind.
My paradigm had shifted.
My body had embraced simple meals. All my senses were on board. Now, when looking at these usual recipe newsletters with new eyes, they looked so incredibly complex. I couldn’t see clearly what the recipe was made out of. The list of ingredients looked so long, complicated and needlessly laborious.
These recipes stopped appealing to me and I began eating in a way that required no recipe. Now, on the occasion that I eat a complex dish or meal, I feel like there is a riot going on inside my body.
5. Think About How Our Primitive Ancestors Ate
Living in the wild, foraging for food, when a tree of ripe fruit was discovered, primitive humans ate the ripe fruit until they were satiated. They didn’t look to combine the fruit with another food for a more interesting presentation. They ate one simple food until they were full or they ate it all.
We have complicated our plates. More is not better. Smoothies with 15 ingredients are unnecessary. You don’t have to “get it all in there” in one shot. The body can really taste and take full nutritional advantage of foods when they are more isolated. Perhaps a 3 ingredient smoothie is as complicated as it needs to get.
Taste the flavors. Digest fully everything you eat. If there is gas, bloating, belching, acid reflux, headache or stomach ache, you are not digesting well. Simplify, simplify, simplify and listen to you body.
6. The Gift of Time
So many of us crave the gift of more time. Days seem to flash past us until weeks pile up and we wonder how we landed in September so quickly.
Monomealing is an adequate and time saving way to eat. Four bananas can constitute lunch. Three sliced cucumbers can be breakfast.
I often monomeal: cherries, melon, grapes, pineapple, however I more often duomeal: strawberries & peaches, cucumbers & tomatoes, bananas & Medjool dates. Either way is easy, delicious, kind & healthful.
Fruit is the original fast food. Many are ready to eat as they come, others require the simple prepping of peeling and cutting. Take fruit to work or take it in the car. Stop at a grocery store on the road rather than pass through a drive-through window.
7. Retrain Your Tastebuds
There’s a saying that goes: If you’re not hungry enough for an apple, you’re not really hungry.
So the next time you get truly hungry, go for an apple…or two or five…however many it takes to satiate you. Crunch into the fruit, chew the crisp, juicy flesh, drink the juices then masticate the fiber. Notice the texture change between the flesh and the skin. Notice how pure and sweet the juice is. There is no water more pure than that in a water-dense whole food.
Sit with the taste. Bite. Chew. Drink. Swallow. Bite. Chew. Drink. Swallow. Grab another apple. Master this flavor, this texture, this temperature…become one with the apple. You might fall in love. You may think that apples are the world’s most perfect food.
Now imagine covering that apple up with peanut butter, caramel, yogurt, or baking it. Do you feel sad? Do you feel a sense of loss for a perfectly good apple now camouflaged as something else? Is the beauty of the beloved apple now hidden from your sense? Is the apple now being used as a base or carrier for something else rather than getting full, rightful attention?
Once you train your tastebuds to cherish a simple monoflavor, you won’t need to dress up food to enjoy it. In fact, you will learn to enjoy the food most in its naked, pure, unadulterated state. It may very well become an ecstatic expereince!
The closer you can get to the essence of a food, the closer you can get to the essence of yourself. Try monomealing and experience it for yourself. Give it time and I promise the simple magic will find you.
Learn how to monomeal and dive into the world of fruit during a free week-long session of Fruit Til Five™.
Additional Resources:Carla Golden is a vegan nutritionist and a massage therapist in private practice specializing in therapeutic essential oils. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Holistic Health & Healing, she enjoys helping others discover the benefits and liberation inherent in a whole food, plant-based diet. The Vegan Key™ is her newest online nutrition program based on tried and true methods which foster performance, vitality, and purpose.