A globetrotting mother-to-be is going bananas about the benefits of her fruit-only diet, claiming it boosts energy and cured her mystery ailments – and saying she hopes her unborn baby will follow the same regime.
After eight years of vegetarianism, Anne Jensen, 23, who is on maternity leave and plans to return to studying, started having bizarre symptoms, like muscle shakes and hair loss and felt generally sluggish – prompting her to search the internet for answers.
Currently living in Denmark with her fellow fruitarian boyfriend Grant Painter, 22, a nutrition student, she stumbled upon a number of YouTube videos extolling the virtues of a fruitarian, or raw vegan diet, where followers eat only uncooked fruit and vegetables.
Now 25 weeks pregnant with her first child, following extensive research, Anne took the plunge and has not looked back – claiming her diet gives her so much energy that she can run a half marathon and barely break a sweat, saying: “Before this, I was eating a lot, but it wasn't the right fuel.
“Most of my friends are fruitarian too and agree that it's the healthiest choice and my loved ones are very supportive. But people online, who don't understand the raw vegan diet, have been critical, telling me I should be drinking cows' milk while pregnant to give my baby everything it needs.
“I believe cows' milk is for cows' babies, though, and that humans can get all the nutrients they require from plants."
Anne hopes to raise her child as a fruitarian (PA Real Life/Collect)
Anne, who has lived all over the world, but is currently based in Aarhus in her native Denmark, admits she has had to introduce some cooked vegan meals to her diet to help combat nausea during her pregnancy.
But, once her child is born, she plans to return to a 100% raw vegan eating plan – and hopes to raise her baby on the same diet.
Anne continued: “At the moment, I am mostly fruit-based, but do eat the odd cooked meal, as it seems to help with nausea, I'm not sure why. When I've given birth, though, I would love to return to a completely fruitarian diet and hope my child will do the same – but I will just have to wait and see."
Anne says her fruit-only diet has improved her energy levels (PA Real Life/Collect)
Anne, who returned to Denmark in March after living all over the world, from Australia to Thailand, followed a standard diet until she was 12 years old.
Then, in a bid to “fit in" with her school friends, most of whom were vegetarian, she decided to ditch meat.
She explained: “Initially, I went vegetarian to be a part of the group. Previously, I'd been a fussy eater, and didn't like many foods. Once I went vegetarian, though, I found I was eating more and more, and realized that actually, I wasn't fussy, I just didn't like meat."
Anne, seen here tucking into some fresh fruit (PA Real Life/Collect)
She added: “When I got a little older and read about the ethical, animal rights side of being vegetarian, of course, that was an important factor too."
For years, Anne happily followed her meat-free diet with no problems.
Then, at age 19, she moved over to France to work as an au pair and soon began to develop some baffling health problems.
An example of a fruit salad Anne would enjoy as a meal (PA Real Life/Collect)
She explained: “I was living with a family there and eating what they ate, which was different to my diet back home – lots of cheese, lots of cream and lots of processed food.
“I think my body just couldn't cope. I began to get all sorts of health issues. My muscles would shake, my hair would fall out and I'd feel so tired and sluggish."
Fed up, Anne took to the web in search of answers and came across a number of YouTube videos, which featured people discussing how they had found fruitarian diets beneficial.
Anne added: “Something in my head clicked that the healthiest way to live was to eat fruit and vegetables – the most natural things in the world.
“I didn't go into it lightly. I spent around a year researching it, reading different studies and papers. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to stick to my new diet, and that it would give me everything I needed, nutrition-wise.
“I did worry about things like sugar, as people kept saying how sugary fruit was. The way I understand it, though, the sugar in fruit is completely different to the processed kind. That really put my mind at ease."
Anne and her boyfriend Grant (PA Real Life/Collect)
So, three years ago, aged 20, Anne decided to officially turn fruitarian and says she soon began to see a difference, especially in her energy levels.
She continued: “It was a really easy transition. I honestly haven't missed my old diet.
“My muscle shakes and hair loss soon stopped, and I suddenly had so much energy. I was waking up at 5am and going for runs, with no recovery time afterwards."
Anne tucking in to a green smoothie (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I could run a half marathon and feel absolutely fine the next day. Before long, I was running 10km every morning, just as a way of using some of my extra energy," Anne added.
“I also noticed things like headaches and period cramps, which I had suffered with before without even really realizing, had gone. It's all these things you don't realize had been affecting you until they stop."
As a fruitarian, Anne's diet depends on what is in season, and whereabouts she is in the world.
Anne's stash of fruit (PA Real Life/Collect)
On an average day, she will begin with a 'monomeal' – which is made up of just one kind of raw fruit or vegetable – such as three melons, or half a large watermelon.
Lunch will usually be a smoothie, with one of her favorite recipes that entails blending five bananas with around 10 dates, fresh berries and water.
“That will keep me full for hours," she added.
Anne is also passionate about the environmental benefits of her diet (PA Real Life/Collect)
For dinner, she will then enjoy a fresh salad made up of spinach, two romaine lettuce heads and tomatoes, as well as a mango, orange and strawberry juice.
Grant eats the same things she does – though often adds herbs and spices for extra flavoring.
“People follow different raw vegan diets. Some people like lots of spices, or nuts and seeds," she said. “But I prefer to keep it really simple."
Towards the beginning of the year, Anne was overjoyed to discover she and Grant were expecting a baby.
“From the off, my intention was to stick to my fruitarian diet for as long as I could," she said of her pregnancy.
For four months, she did just that, but recently, she has found her nausea has been getting worse, and so has tweaked her diet slightly in a bid to combat it, introducing the odd cooked vegan meal.
Anne says her diet depends on what fruits are in season (PA Real Life/Collect)
And, though she does struggle with morning sickness, she is convinced that being fruitarian has kept her energy levels up as she prepares to bring a new life into the world.
Once she gives birth, she plans to listen to her body to work out what sort of diet is best for her, but hopes she can go back to fruitarianism full-time.
“I'd love to raise my child as a fruitarian, but I can't do that if I'm not following the diet myself," she said. “I am planning to breastfeed as long as the baby wants to do so. I know that is the main source of calories for the baby and will introduce food slowly alongside it. I will just wait and see what is best for my baby."
Anne's food (PA Real Life/Collect)
By speaking out, Anne hopes to encourage others to consider a fruitarian diet, and is convinced it has improved her health tenfold. Not only that, but she is also passionate about the environmental benefits.
“Nothing I eat is in plastic packaging, and there's very little waste," she said. “I think it's better for the planet to be fruitarian. You also save lots of money, as you aren't buying treats like takeaways, meals out, or even the odd chocolate bar and can of cola.
“Once you get over your old eating habits, it's really very easy to stick to. I believe that your body will only crave what you're putting into it, so if you don't eat junk food, it won't want junk food. If you aren't 100% passionate, it can seem easy to slip back to your old ways, but you just have to remind yourself of why you are doing this, and how it is best for your body."
Anne has attracted some criticism online for her dietary choices (PA Real Life/Collect)
Dr. Daniel Atkinson, Clinical Lead of Treated.com, said: “The biggest issue with a fruitarian diet is how restrictive it is, because it excludes key nutrients and vitamins like B12, which you can only get from animal sources.
“While whole fruit is healthy, juiced fruit tends to have high sugar concentration, and consuming lots of it might increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
“Anemia is a common issue during pregnancy, and a fruit-heavy diet isn't rich in iron which might mean you're more at risk of developing anemia. If you are pregnant, it's better to speak to your doctor or health visitor before making any drastic changes to your diet."
Anne showing her baby bump (PA Real Life/Collect)
Speaking of the affect a fruitarian diet may have on a child, Dr. Atkinson continued: “Research shows that the diet of infants and toddlers has a big impact on their growth and development.
“By far the biggest impact on children's health is breast-feeding, but it has recently been shown that a variety of foods introduced after weaning can help influence the types of “friendly" bacteria that develop in the gut.
“These, in turn, can make a difference in the way that we metabolize carbohydrates as adults. A fruitarian diet might seem attractive to parents and children in the early years – many find it easier to get children to eat juicy peaches and strawberries than vegetables – but the relatively high sugar content of fruit means that they may be increasing the risk of diabetes in later life."