“You literally only eat vegetables!” my friends comment at the diner. And it’s true; I like to make half of my plate vegetables. But only half, I still like to get my noodle fix and a nice filling piece of meat on my plate. This comment did get me thinking though; can I live on just fruits and vegetables for a week?

I started to do some research just to make sure it’s viable. The first thing I had to establish is “What counts as a vegetable?” To officially qualify all of my food choices, I used the USDA list of official vegetables as a guide. Some of the controversial foods that I had to verify were beans, peanuts, potatoes and chickpeas.

The next beast I had to conquer was “How do I get all of my macronutrients?” That’s where my heaviest research came in. Carbs had to come from potatoes and corn. Protein came mostly from chickpeas and hummus and but fats were the tough one. I did not have enough access to avocados so I added in olive oil to what I was allowed to eat.

The last established ground rule was the use of seasonings. Luckily pepper and most herbs are vegetables so that was not an issue. The bigger things were salt and butter. I was somewhat liberal with this because it was hard to tell in the dining hall. I stayed away from something though if it had a noticeable sauce or added sugar (like a smoothie or maple mashed sweet potatoes). I did my best to be as pure as possible.

And then with all of that being established, I was off.

Monday

beet, olive, sweet, salad, carrot
Lucy Bedewi

I woke up today feeling extremely hungry, because stupid me ate almost no dinner the night before. At breakfast I grabbed a couple bunches of grapes and about a half pint of blueberries. I had a little bit of coffee as well. Black coffee of course.

Around 11 when my class finished I was sufficiently hungry so I went to have an early lunch. I had peas, roasted broccoli and pineapple. When I finished, I felt somewhat filled but in a very empty way. I actually felt a bit nauseous. I just shrugged it off, put my plate away then went to the library to study.

Before my 2 pm class, I grabbed some dried fruit from McKeldin. I then read the label and realized that I can’t have it because there was added sugar. It wasn’t a food emergency (in which I would easily break this) so I put it in my backpack to be enjoyed in a week. I did get a cup of green tea though.

In my 2 pm class, my stomach was making whale noises loud enough for the class next door to hear. I was so hungry and even a little dizzy. After that class ended I mentally ran (I would have passed out if I tried to actually run) to get dinner. Dinner, I was strategic. No more messing around…I needed protein.

I got a lot of chickpeas, roasted corn, and shredded carrots. I put a dollop of hummus on my plate and a spoonful of spicy red beans on top of the corn. After this meal I felt exponentially better.

I ate another dinner around 7 pm, because I had volleyball tryouts from 9-11 pm. For this part of my day, I was a little more liberal in terms of what I allowed myself. I needed sufficient calories and protein to make it through an intense workout.

I got stir-fry: corn, spinach and tofu then dressed it with a bunch of olive oil. After that, I had a second plate in which I filled half with carrots and half with roasted potatoes. From here on out, I promise not to eat tofu. It is soybean based, so yes it fits the vegetable category…but it’s pushing it. Potatoes on the other hand are fair game, assuming that they are not mixed with anything.

salad, avocado, pea
Lucy Bedewi

Before try-outs, I had a handful of peanuts. Peanuts are in the same family as beans and chickpeas and yes, they are on the official vegetable list. All of the other nuts are in the tree nut family and do not count as vegetables.

After tryouts, I surprised myself with my lack of hunger. I walked into my room and had a snack. Some carrots and hummus and dried apple chips with coconut water, but no major meals.

Sitting here now, I honestly feel fine. I don’t feel hungry, but I also don’t feel as solid and nourished as I typically do. I did see that I had a 900-calorie deficit for the day (according to my fitbit), so I need to get better at achieving more calories for the day.

I consumed 2000 calories (which I thought was pretty good given my options), but I burned 2900 throughout the course of my day. I’ll chalk today up to learning the ropes and an intense workout…tomorrow I’ll work on making this somewhat sustainable and healthy.

Tuesday

salad, cabbage, vegetable, cauliflower, broccoli
Lucy Bedewi

The day started off with a grab and go apple because for some reason my alarm didn’t go off. Luckily, my roommate was able to wake up and subsequently wake me up.

I felt like I was about to fall asleep throughout the entire duration of my 9:30 am class. I think I retained no material from what was presented. I can’t tell if that is from my food intake or the fact that it’s accounting. After class though, I went to the café and got some black coffee and edamame.

I ate my real lunch around 1 pm. It was a solid lunch in my opinion; a mountain of broccoli and green beans with some chickpeas and a little dollop of mashed potatoes.

I got through my 2 pm class without any major dizziness or sleepiness issues. I ate dinner right after though. Yes the time was 3:15; I honestly cannot go for more than a couple of hours without eating something, I just get too hungry. My linner (or dunch) consisted of brussel sprouts, sautéed onions, kale, corn and a little bit of hummus.

This dinner served me until my 7 pm dinner. Almost 4 hours, that’s a record of longest time without food for this week. Dinner consisted of mashed potatoes, white beans, corn and some more kale. I also got lentils with lime as well. This by far was my most solid meal and left me feeling good.

Unfortunately that good feeling did not last long. I got back to my dorm, sat at my desk and looked in the mirror. One of my eyes was very red from a blood vessel popping. I also had a pounding headache and a strange “fog” surrounding my cognition. I looked up all these symptoms on the Internet (everyone tried to deter me from doing this) and learned that it’s from a lack of fat in my diet. Tomorrow, I need to go heavy on the olive oil.

I ended my meal with one more run to the diner. I had some more mashed potatoes, broccoli and jalapeño carrots that almost killed me. I like spicy, but that was inhumane.

Day 2 and it’s definitely starting to hit me. I feel malnourished. All I want is a massive square of lasagna with meat sauce. I just want something solid to feel strong again.

Wednesday

potato, vegetable, rice
Lucy Bedewi

I decided to skip the diner today and just grabbed an apple. Bad decision. As I was walking to my 10 am I felt so empty and horrible. I wanted to turn around and go back to my dorm. Luckily, it is only a 50-minute class so I made it through.

I have a break from 11 am to 2 pm. Typically I do homework, but I just went back to my dorm and passed out for two hours. Before I let myself just escape from the world, I forced myself to eat a little something. Raw spinach, carrots, corn and hummus, with the entire bowl dressed in olive oil. I felt significantly better after this mini meal.

After my nap, I felt fantastic. I had a quick apple then made my way to my 2 pm class. After class, I grabbed a solid meal of mashed potatoes, butternut squash and broccoli. Nothing like a 4 pm dinner.

I then went to the business school and just sat in the café doing homework. I grabbed a bowl of berries to munch on with a cup of black coffee. Black coffee should not be something that people consume.

strawberry, berry
Lucy Bedewi

For dinner, to be honest I have no recollection of what I ate. I forgot to take a picture or write it down. It was around 9 pm and it definitely involved a side of pineapple. I’m going to take a wild guess and I say I ate vegetables.

I ended the night with 2 am carrots and hummus while I was cramming accounting homework.

Even though my morning started rough, the day ended pretty well. I’m starting to get used to the vegetable concentration and I’m getting less headaches and “brain fog."

Thursday

chicken, beans, risotto, asparagus
Lucy Bedewi

I did not eat breakfast today. Well, not in the traditional sense. I walked to class with black coffee in hand and it was so hard to get down. I needed the caffeine though. Once in my 9:30 class, I took a handful of peanuts just so I wouldn’t die.

I had another class right after so I just had some more peanuts. Solid nutrients for the morning. After that,t I went straight to lunch. I got a large helping of corn, chickpeas, broccoli and brussel sprouts. I felt way more solid.

My next meal was at 3 pm. It was stir fry veggies. Because they were stir-fried in olive oil they were tastier than most of my veggies. I had broccoli, corn, bean sprouts, carrots, spinach, onions and squash.

I had my main dinner at 7:30 pm. I had lentils, green beans, corn and mashed potatoes. I also had a little bit of hummus for dipping. It was ice cream sundae night which was extremely tempting. I decided to grab an apple and just cry.

My cravings have been through the roof today. I physically feel fine, but I constantly want chocolate, pasta and ribs. I can’t wait until I can eat anything I want. Restricting my diet is not a principle that I typically stand by.

Friday

vegetable, cheese, corn, macaroni
Kirby Barth

I actually broke it today out of choice. There were fried mac and cheese balls at the business event and my cravings were through the roof. I regret nothing.

The Takeaway

beans
Lucy Bedewi

Wow, what a week. Even though I went only four full days on solely fruits and vegetables, it was still a trip. Throughout the week I battled malnutrition, increased mood swings, bad focus, headaches, popped blood vessels, dizziness and severe cravings.

One thing I will say is it got easier. Maybe it’s because my body got used to constantly being hungry. I always felt empty, but soon that emptiness became my new normal so I stopped noticing.

This week was not all bad though. I now eat considerably more vegetables. Fruits and vegetables now make up about 75% of my day. I am more mindful of my food choices and I feel like I’ve gotten healthier.

In terms of weight, I did not weigh myself, but looking in my mirror after the challenge, I got a little thinner. Do not use this as a weight loss program, it’s too restrictive and the other “side effects” are not worth it.

This one was definitely a challenge. I’m happy that I’m done and I can now eat like a normal human again. Like all food challenges, this one taught me so much about nutrition and my body, but I would never adopt it long term.