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What Is a One-Food Diet?

By Angela Farrer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A one-food diet is an approach to weight loss that involves the dieter significantly restricting his or her food intake to a single item, sometimes one that is not commonly associated with a healthy eating plan. The idea behind eating only one food for a prescribed length of time is that the body's metabolism may adjust to processing that one food more efficiently when other sources of calories are eliminated. Calorie-counting is usually a focus of a single food diet because the dedicated dieter will often point out that his or her total daily calories actually add up to less than the recommended average number.

Some well-known single food diets can consist of one food known for its high amounts of sugar, fat, or complex carbohydrates. These diets can include bacon, potatoes, snack cakes, or even beer as the one-food choice. Medical experts advise anyone attempting this kind of weight-loss plan to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water over the course of the plan. Including a multi-vitamin supplement is also recommended. While a one-food diet may be effective for short-term weight loss, the general consensus is that this practice may be unhealthy if followed for a longer time period.

Another version of a one-food diet can focus on internal cleansing in addition to reduced caloric intake. This type of eating plan is designed to use one food as a means of clearing impurities from the body, specifically from the liver. A dieter following a cleansing one-food regimen will eat only one fresh fruit or vegetable such as grapefruit or cabbage for a length of time ranging from one day to a few weeks. Proponents of this weight loss approach believe that it has additional health benefits such as improved energy due to the supposed removal of built-up toxins from the environment and from processed foods.

One possible advantage to a one-food diet is that it can help those struggling with weight loss to have a tighter mental focus when it comes to food choices. Many people may find the wide array of possible diet foods and supplements overwhelming as far as which could be the most beneficial. Following a one-food diet can eliminate those distractions and lead to noticeable results in a relatively short time. Once the dieter has successfully followed this short-term restricted plan, the keys to maintaining his or her accomplished weight loss is to re-introduce a variety of healthy, unprocessed foods and to follow a regular exercise plan.

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Discussion Comments
By anon311814 — On Jan 04, 2013

Over Christmas weekend, my friends from out of town came in. They said it looked like I lost about 10 pounds. I had been eating the cottage cheese with the canned pears, and rice dishes with the rice made all different ways with seasonings and veggies in the rice.

I have been eating this way for about three weeks now, so that's about the time in which I lost the 10 pounds. I alternate with eating what I want healthily on weekends.

By anon309755 — On Dec 18, 2012

As an alternative, I love peas. Sometimes I just open up a can of peas, throw them in a bowl, put them in the microwave, and that's dinner! It's healthy, low calorie, low fat, and quick too. Or you can even do that for a snack! You could also mix the peas with the Ready Rice! I love peas and rice together. So this gives you ideas of how to eat the rice different ways, and have alternatives also, so that you can stick to the diet during the week.

Also, carrot sticks make great, healthy snacks too. Costco sells a very large bag of those fresh carrot pieces in their produce cooler, and they last a long time in your refrigerator, without going bad. Throw some in a sandwich zip lock baggie, and put them in your lunch bag for work too!

By anon309745 — On Dec 18, 2012

"Ready Rice" cooks in 90 seconds in the microwave, and is great for this. It comes in all different flavors/seasonings. It's made by Uncle Ben's and is in all grocery stores. They seem to fill me up. I eat one bag of it for lunch, as well as dinner.

By anon309614 — On Dec 17, 2012

I have already lost weight considerably on this one type of food diet, basically alternating back and forth as described, between rice dishes with veggies in them, and cottage cheese and fruit at other meals as well. And it has only been about two weeks so far. Today I noticed in my tunic blouse, which used to fit quite snug around the waist and abdomen, is now hanging off me instead of fitting a bit snug and tight there.

You will be able to tell that you are losing weight by the way your clothes are fitting. Stay away from scales, or you'll drive yourself crazy.

I started off two days with eating rice dishes for basically all my three meals during the day. The next two days, I would eat cottage cheese and fruit for all my three meals during the day. Then the next day (fifth weekday of the week), I went back to the rice dishes for the day. On that day, come 5 p.m., as soon as I got off work, I started my eating what I want, healthily though, for the weekend (Saturday and Sunday). So, starting with dinner on Friday evening, after work, I started eating what I wanted, instead of being restricted to rice and cottage cheese and fruit. So on Friday at work, I only ate rice for breakfast and lunch. Dinner on Friday started my weekend. Then on Monday, it's back on the dieting foods again: rice, cottage cheese and fruit, for Monday through Friday -- same thing all over again. That's the way I ate during the first week on the diet, alternating rice dishes two days, then alternating to cottage cheese and fruit for two days, and the Friday left me back on the rice dishes for the day like that.

In the second week, I changed it to cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast, and rice dishes with veggies for lunches and dinners, for weekdays, the same way. Come Friday when I got off work, started eating the way I wanted, healthily, for the weekend, the same way.

Here it's Monday again, and I'm continuing with cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast, and rice dishes for lunches and dinners, the same thing. I will follow the same way, until Friday at dinner time beginning the weekend. But today is when I noticed this very loose tunic blouse!

Even right after the first week, I was noticing a difference in the way my clothes were fitting; they were a little less snug.

Canned pears are easier to throw into the cottage cheese than cutting up fruit. It's quick to throw in a bag for work. Just make sure you don't get the kind which is in "heavy syrup" or any kind of syrup, because you don't want all that sugar. Make sure the label says something like, "in natural fruit juices". Make sure it's juice, not syrup. Or pear juice concentrate is O.K., too.

Also during the week, I had little healthy quick snacks which I kept on hand, for between meals. If I felt a bit hungry or wanted to snack on something, I ate something like popcorn, beef jerky, fresh fruit, and cheezit crackers. I snacked only moderately, though,

I am losing weight this way, and have felt satisfied and not hungry. And the cottage cheese and pears are delicious. I'm getting those canned sliced or halved pears. Just chop them up with your spoon while they're in the bowl, and mix in the cottage cheese. Yum.

By anon307844 — On Dec 07, 2012

Be careful on the one food diets, also, because if your body doesn't get protein, you will start to feel very fatigued. Protein is an important nutrient for your body, which gives you energy, and also feeds your muscles. This is also what the cottage cheese is good for, because it has some protein in it.

But otherwise, if you start feeling fatigued and weak, immediately eat some protein, (meat) like a good nutritious healthy meal with meat and veggies. If you're out and about, and need a quick protein meal, a good chicken sandwich you can get fast, with lots of lettuce and tomatoes, is a good choice. You will feel the protein start to lift you up fairly quickly.

By anon307538 — On Dec 05, 2012

Oh, yeah, and the thing about these types of foods, the rice dish, and the cottage cheese with the fruit in it, is that these types of foods are quite filling, so you're really not feeling hungry after you eat a meal sized portion of them.

By anon307517 — On Dec 05, 2012

What about alternating, three days on one type of food, and the next three days on another type of food, and so on?. It will help you not burn out, get a bit of variety, and nutrition, etc. In the one type of food diets, one of them also is cottage cheese with fruit, which is another thing I love.

What if you do three days on the rice dish, then the next three days on the cottage cheese with fruit? And alternate back and forth like that? Next three days back on the rice, and so on.

I wouldn't make more than three days' worth of rice at a time, because anything, after three days in the fridge, depending on what it is, gets bacteria in it that we cannot see, smell, or taste. I wouldn't eat anything or leftovers in general after three days.

When you eat healthy on the weekends, taking a break from the one food diet things, remember to really eat healthy. Eat non fattening, non-sugary foods, no fried foods, etc., not a lot of oils, fats, butters, margarine, go easy on your carbs, and eat veggies, fruits, protein (meat), and healthy grains. Nothing fried, only boiled, baked, or broiled.

Lots of fruits taste good with cottage cheese (red seedless grapes, peaches, pears). And cottage cheese with fruit is another healthy dieting food dish. And it doesn't have a lot of calories.

With eating the rice dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it will be used up fast.

By anon307276 — On Dec 04, 2012

Forgot one last thing for the rice: also throw in a dab of cooking oil for this cooking process, when you throw in all ingredients together. The oil really helps with less sticking and/or sticking together as well.

By anon307273 — On Dec 04, 2012

I'm sorry. When I said boil the rice for 20 minutes, I didn't mean boil, I meant simmer, turning the heat down after comes to boil, to simmer for 20 minutes covered. Be sure you have enough water in the pot for simmering, because the rice will be soaking up all the water while simmering.

A general rule is you want twice as much water as rice. But sometimes you need a bit more water than that, is what I've found, so that your rice doesn't start burning at the bottom of the pan during the last part of the cooking, etc. You'll have to watch closely, since heating elements on stoves vary, etc.

Think like when you're cooking beans, you want plenty of water, covering the beans, etc., and then a bit more, because beans soak up a lot of water too. For the rice, you can always drain any bit of excess water out when cooking is done, and better safe than sorry. Also, this way your rice won't be dry, but moist and delicious. The other important thing is to generally not take the cover off while the rice is simmering.

I've also found it best to, after the rice is done cooking, instead of letting it sit longer in the pot, covered, to steam - immediately take it out of the pot, into a sort of flat pan, spreading it out, so that it can start cooling, fluffing with a fork, etc. Otherwise it can turn to mush because it will just keep cooking and be will overcooked, and stick together more.

By anon307241 — On Dec 04, 2012

Another final note, or thought.

Another advantageous thought which came to mind was, in order to not burn out on this type of diet before giving up on it, let's say, I think if you take a break from it on weekends only, and alternate like that, eating healthy food(s) only. This would also reward yourself, etc. You might try it, and see that through the weekend eating, it doesn't make you gain back all the weight which you lost through the week. Watch this closely. Or you might only try it for one day through the weekend only, like either Saturday or Sunday. Or you might try it with only one or two meals during the weekend.

In this way, you're still losing, but your body will also have a chance to get some other nutrition from other foods over the weekend as well, you're taking a break from it, rewarding yourself, enjoying the other foods, and not burning out on the diet.

By anon307115 — On Dec 03, 2012

One final note: I don't think adding those frozen veggies to the rice would make all that much of a big deal. Those veggies are healthy, and hardly any calories at all. If anything, you'll be adding nutrition, and having your rice a delicious way, which will help you stay on the diet better, because just nothing in the rice is too boring.

By anon307110 — On Dec 03, 2012

This is interesting. There are quite a few one food diets out there. Of course, if you eat only one type of food, you’re going to lose weight. The trick is, as these kinds of diets say, to introduce regular healthy food back into your eating style, with exercise, after you lose the weight while on the one food diet, so that you don’t gain the weight back, thereby having a healthy lifestyle (eating plan and exercise).

Your exercise should be a minimum of 20 minutes per workout session, and three times per week. That is what is needed to stay trim and fit, and that’s all that’s needed. This is because it takes 12 minutes at a steady kind of vigorous cardio, to reach your target, aerobic heart rate (your burning fat heart rate). Then, once you’re there, you start to burn the fat. At the burning fat rate, you need to stay another 12 minutes. (That’s 24). Round 12 plus 12 off to about 20 minutes, and that’s all you need to not “burn out” (stop working out) and therefore continue working out three times per week, 20 minutes each time. And taken in little increments like this, it’s easy to be consistent, which is what is needed. So try any cardio machine at a gym or bike riding three times per week, for 20 minutes each time.

And do definitely take multi-mineral/multi-vitamin supplement and drink at least three quarts of water, per day, during the time you’re on the one food diet. The vitamin part is also extremely important during this time, because you’re not otherwise getting all the nutrients your body would really need, from just one type of food.

And only stay on this one food diet for three weeks, that’s “a few weeks” -- three. A few is three. A couple is two.

I might just try this with rice, because I love rice. It’s easy and quick to make with throwing frozen mixed veggies into it, which comes with green beans, corn, carrots, and peas, and some “caldo de pollo” (chicken stock/boullion). Just throw it all in, let it boil covered on the stove for 20 minutes, done. And you can make enough for about three days, to take some to work with you, etc. This is even good for breakfast. It tastes good.

By backdraft — On Aug 03, 2011

I am really intrigued buy this one food diet but I have so many more questions. I have struggled with my weight for years and tried just about every goofy diet you can imagine. This one food diet might not be the magic bullet but I would definitely like to try it.

Who should I talk to about this? Should it be my doctor or a nutritionist? And how do I pick the one food I will eat? If anyone has any experience with this I would love it if you would write me back.

By jonrss — On Aug 03, 2011

I don't only eat one food but I do only eat one kind of food. I eat and exclusively raw food diet. No cooking, no heat, only fruits, vegetables grains, nuts, vinegars and oils in their most natural state.

I have been doing this for about 2 years now and I love it. I doubt I will every stop. I used to have a lot of health problems but most of them cleared up completely when I started this diet plan. I lost weight, I had more energy, I felt better and I looked better.

It took me a while to get used to eating only raw. I had to give up a lot of things I love and it can be a time consuming process to prepare raw food and eat enough to feel satisfied. But if you are an adventurous cook and committed to the personal and social benefits of raw food it can be a really rewarding way to eat. I wish this kind of diet was more common in restaurants because it is impossible to go out to eat.

By tigers88 — On Aug 02, 2011

My mom once told me about a diet fad that was really popular during the 70s. She, like lots of men and women, fell for this awful diet.

The gist of it was this. Whenever you were hungry you were supposed to eat cabbage soup. This was little more than boiled cabbage. You could eat as much as you wanted at any time you wanted but you could only eat this one kind of soup.

My mom said that first and foremost the soup was horrible. She was not a fan of cabbage to begin with but the recipe they recommended apparently brought out all the worst qualities in the vegetable. Se said that she lost a few pounds but she felt terrible and was very hungry the whole time. After a week she went off the diet and promptly gained the weight back.

She laughs about it now and we both think it sounds like a pretty silly Idea. But people are desperate to be thing and they will try some pretty wacky stuff. I'm sure there is something just as bad as cabbage soup being guzzled down right now.

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