Her videos have hundreds of thousands of views, her Facebook page has over 230,000 likes, her Instagram boasts 173,000+ followers, and her eBook sells for only $24.95! This is the empire of Freelee the self-proclaimed “Banana Girl,” a fit, blonde Australian who has become something of an online superstar in the past year. Her high-carb raw vegan diet has taken the health-conscious online world by storm, with its staple being the one and only banana. In fact, Freelee eats at least 30 of these suckers each day, packing them into shakes and smoothies, and maintaining that this is what keeps her in shape. In her Youtube videos, Instagram captions, and Facebook posts, she playfully tells people to “go fruit themselves,” to “carb the fuck up,” and refers to Banana Diet participants as her “little fruit bats.” Despite the positivity Freelee attempts to invest into this seemingly ludicrous diet, it has been met with scrutiny from health advocates across the globe, and rightfully so. The Banana Girl diet, hailed as a lifestyle of abundance, is merely another unsustainable fad.
So what exactly is the Banana Girl Diet, and what does it entail? On the her website, Freelee lays out the basics:
- High carb is queen
- Eat a BARE minimum of 2000 calories per day
- Eat a head of lettuce 3-4 times per week
- 90% of calories must come from carbs; max 5% from fat and protein
- Drink a minimum of 2.5 litres of water per day
- Sleep a minimum of 8 hours per night
- Get a minimum of 30 minutes of sunshine per day
- Take up jogging/cycling/a sport that gets your heart pumping
On top of that, you are PROHIBITED from eating
- More than a handful of any sort of nuts or seeds per week
- More than 1 avocado per week
- Any animal products
- Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Macca, chlorella, spirulina, or any sort of “superfood”
- Any sort of oil (including coconut)
And, finally, Banana Christ Superstar commands you to COUNT YOUR CALORIES because “ladies who dip below 2500 calories don’t last on this lifestyle.” And yes, this “lifestyle” is for girls only!
Freelee’s Youtube videos form the backbone of the Banana Girl empire, and is where she frequently delivers pseudo-sermons on carbing the fuck up with catchy titles like “Victoria’s Secret Model Weight Loss Secrets Revealed!” To be completely honest, it’s difficult to separate ones which actually detail the diet from ones which are atrociously self-congratulating and offer no advice to those who wish to learn about the Banana Girl lifestyle. In one called “Why Do People Get Fat On a Raw Food Diet?”, her boyfriend behind the camera asks her questions and coaches her on what to say like an overbearing stage mom. Freelee talks about her past experiences with disordered eating and says that “We have to get alive and realize that we’re more than a number on a scale and how tight our clothing fits does not define us!” Immediately after this proclamation, her boyfriend commands her to “Swirl it around, baby.” She laughs uncomfortably and obliges, completely negating what she just said.
A common theme throughout all of these videos is a disdain for “fat” people and “haters,” and all of them reek of defensiveness. If you’re not with Freelee and her boyfriend, you’re against them.
Further complicating the diet/lifestyle/cult-like mindset is Freelee’s inconsistent terminology. She says over and over again that this is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle. Her Facebook page markets it as “The ultimate 30 day raw food lifestyle challenge for women,” yet the page itself is called “The Banana Girl Diet.” Her Twitter and Instagram handles, too, are @BananaGirlDiet. She has also referred to it as a “cleanse.” How, then, can the Banana Girl Diet be a lifestyle yet simultaneously a 30-day cleanse? Someone get this lunatic a dictionary!
Obviously, telling people to eat thirty bananas a day sounds absurd. More than that, though, advocating this type of diet is dangerous. Fad diets attract those prone to eating disorders, and the first topic on Freelee’s 30BananasADay message board provides a perfect example of this with one simple question: “Will coconut oil on my skin make me fat?”
Concerns like these are symptoms of disordered eating and signals of food fears. They are evidence that followers of the banana diet are more preoccupied with not being fat than with “attaining their ideal natural body size,” converse to to Freelee’s Banana Girl Diet mission as stated on Facebook. Of course, this comes as no surprise considering the content of her videos.
In the end, the Banana Girl Diet is nothing but another fad, and Freelee is no better than Jenny Craig. This sort of dieting (and that’s what it is- a diet) comes with a cost. Eating thirty bananas a day is not a panacea; it is not the key to a healthy, balanced life. Anorexia operates on restriction in one sense, and rigid diets like this operate in another. In either case, participating in a “cleanse” like this is detrimental to both your physical and mental health. And restriction is the opposite of freedom, despite what Freelee’s name suggests.
Also, she gives vegans a bad name. And that pisses me off.