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A Fruity Shortage: Japan’s Morning Banana Diet Fad

banana dietOne weight loss diet fad is the “morning banana diet”.

Japan, a nation known for following some pretty wacky fads, is suffering a banana shortage because of it.

From ABC News:

Akihiro Takenaka, a produce manager of a Tokyo supermarket, Ozeki, said the demands for bananas are still high and the supply simply cannot catch up.

“I have been in the produce business for almost 20 years and I have never seen this kind of phenomenon,” said Takenaka. “We usually purchase 15 cases of bananas every day, but we have not been able to secure that amount for the past few months. We are lucky if we get five cases. “

The basic rules of the morning banana diet are simple:

  • Eat as many bananas as you want in the morning.
  • Eat a normal lunch and dinner.
  • Eat dinner before 8 p.m
  • Go to bed before midnight.
  • Snacks between meals are allowed in moderation.
  • Drinking alcohol is allowed in moderation.

The man who started the craze in Japan is Hitoshi Watanabe, who lost 38 pounds in less than a year by following the diet. His wife, a pharmacist, came up with the plan as a way to help Watanabe lose the weight he gained from eating late dinners and no exercise. Bananas fit the bill for a filling, nutritious food relatively low in calories.

As Watanabe lost weight, he began posting the diet information on Mixi, the largest social networking service in Japan.

“I did not know so many people would show an interest. The response was just overwhelming.”

He was then approached with book offers, and now over 900,000 copies of the banana diet book have been sold, mostly in Asia.

According to ABC News, Dole Japan has had to increase banana imports by over 25% to cope with the demand. Grocery stores are selling bananas as fast as they can stock them, and people show up early just to score some.

What’s the truth about the morning banana diet?

Well, truth is where you find it. If people can lose weight eating lots of bananas, then it works… From my perspective, filling your belly with wholesome natural raw fruits all morning is a great way to change your eating habits. I know several people who are strong supporters of a raw food diet, and a few who eat a fruitarian diet, and it works for them. Obviously, diet is only part of the equation, and without adding exercise to your life, you probably are not going to experience lasting health or weight loss. Just my humble opinion…

Are there any raw foodists or fruitarians out there? Are you willing to comment on the banana diet?

Image: Darwin Bell at Flickr under Creative Commons License

6 comments
  1. William Furr

    It really sounds like the other parts of the diet are more important than the bananas. Dinner before 8, snacks in moderation, a decent amount of sleep… All good things. There’s tons of other breakfast options that would work just fine in place of bananas.

    Food fads are an odd thing. I hadn’t really thought about it until I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. That book really brought home how little I learned from my culture about how to feed myself effectively. Most of us are the mercy of doctors, dietitians, and marketers.

  2. Carla

    I am no longer a raw vegan (or vegan for that matter) for health reasons, but incorporating a wide variety of raw fruits and veggies in your diet is the way to go IMO. I don’t agree with filling up and going overboard on one thing.

    Because I have blood sugar issues, bananas don’t work for me at all let alone first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

  3. Mona Metzger

    I agree with the William, the “more important” part of the diet is dinner before 8pm and a decent amount of sleep. I have read several studies that proven that people reach for high fat foods when they are sleep deprived. IMO, sleep is imperative to maintaining good eating habits.

    When I’m sleepy, I eat for comfort and make poor food choices (ie sugary foods). Essentially, we simply exchange one “basic need” for another as food and sleep are basic needs.

    On the other hand, I do wonder exactly what William meant when he wrote “Most of us are the mercy of doctors, dietitians and marketers.” (Most of us? What about the rest of us?) With respect, I disagree as I believe the only thing we are at the mercy of is our own ignorance.

    Interesting, however, that sooo few people are willing to educate themselves and instead opt for yet another quick/fad diet seeking instant results!

  4. William Furr

    “On the other hand, I do wonder exactly what William meant when he wrote β€œMost of us are the mercy of doctors, dietitians and marketers.” (Most of us? What about the rest of us?) With respect, I disagree as I believe the only thing we are at the mercy of is our own ignorance.”

    Hi Mona,

    I left the “us” kind of vague, sorry. I should hope that the readers of this blog are the thoughtful ones who actually think about what they’re eating and why. Most people don’t, and in the lack of a stable food culture, find themselves at the mercy of all the various competing messages about what to eat, from marketers trying to sell cheap calories and turn a profit to government bureaucrats who are pushing the agenda of the agriculture industry instead of the eater’s best interest. The only cure is knowledge and caring deeply about what you eat.

    If you haven’t read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, I highly recommend it. He makes that point far better than I do.

    Here’s an open letter he wrote to the next “Farmer in Chief” that gets in to some of his philosophy:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html?em

  5. Dee

    This diet could cause all sorts of health problems for some people. High potassium levels can cause irregular heart beats, as it messes up the electrolytes that control your heart rate.
    It can mainly cause slowing down of heart beats or skipping of beats from decreased heart muscle activity.
    Taking too much potassium into your body over a long period of time can be quite dangerous.
    People should definitely focus on the healthier aspects of this diet like drinking water, not eating late at night and getting a good nights sleep.

  6. Jerry

    Bananas can be a safe and healthy aid for people who need to lose weight. Their resistant starch, ferments in the large intestine, creating by-products that block conversion of some carbohydrates into fuel, so replacing ordinary carbs with the resistant starch in bananas can boost fat burning. And banana fiber bulks up in your stomach, so you feel full for longer. Eating a healthy lunch and dinner are, of course, importnant. The healthy way to do the banana diet which includes exercise. I like the one at http://www.dolenutrition.com/bananadiet/bananadiet.htm

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