Can You Live Healthy Without Eating Any Vegetables?

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Are Tomatoes a Fruit or a Vegetable?

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My clients call me “The Realistic Dietitian.”  If you got to this site because you are worried about your health or someone’s health who is not eating vegetables, please take a deep breath and know that there are always solutions to diet issues.  Enjoy the article.  The story was inspired by a very close friend of mine who has never during his 46 years on this earth eaten a vegetable and never will. 

Perhaps you Googled to get to this article on vegetables.  If you are reading this, you may be wondering the big question, “Can I survive without eating any vegetables?” Or perhaps, can I still obtain good health without any veggies in my diet? If you know the background and vision of this site, you will know that the answer is just a couple of compromises away.  The basic compromise is that you have to like fruit.  If you eat fruit you have even passed the survival mode.  But truth is, if you don’t eat any fruit nor vegetables, you may see your health struggle and your risk to get minor and major illnesses increase.

Living Healthy Means Being Creative and Knowing Your Body and Taste Preferences

So you don’t like vegetables? And maybe you completely hate vegetables? Are you going to listen to your dietitian/doctor/mother/partner who says that you MUST eat your vegetables?  Doubt it.  If you hate the taste of something, just because you should eat it doesn’t mean you will. Moving towards good health can also mean being creative with the basic guidelines we know:  5 a Day intake of fruits and vegetables can also mean 5 a day fruits. Of course, not all vegetables are created equal. Maybe you will love eating some veggies and not others. Or maybe you are like my friend…

Let me give you a funny example

My friend recently sent me an email about how his health plan is going.  He was laughing out loud with me because he hates vegetables and knows that I am a dietitian. He said

“Hey, Mare, you should write something in your blog about people who don’t eat vegetables and still are healthy!”

Because believe it or not my friend hasn’t put a morsel of any vegetable in his body in 46 years!  But do you know what?

He is healthy because even though he does miss this key component of a healthy, balanced diet (like his veggies) he does eat his very sweet and very sour fruits (as he calls them).  He is also quite a mentally balanced person, exercises some, enjoys life to the fullest, has good relationships, sees a doctor regularly, and he does eat his fruit. Living healthy is a full spectrum that includes more than what you put in your mouth.  It is an individual process with individual goals that fit into that person’s taste, lifestyle, habits and social background.  So, my friend, it is okay not to have eaten a vegetable for the past 46 years. It will be okay to continue to do this for the next 46 years too.  But how about sticking a carrot into your juicer, please?

What are your creative ways for living healthy? Let me know your feedback! And if you want to read more realistic ways to live healthy in your own way, keep reading and browsing the articles here.  Like our Facebook page or subscribe to our RSS feed to receive email updates.

To answer the question above, botanically tomatoes are considered a fruit but they are often served as a vegetable.

Update: If you are concerned about the lack or absence of fruits and/or vegetables in your diet, here is my suggestion: invest in a good blender or juicer. Here is a high quality juicer I can recommend that produces a great juice, full packed with vitamins!

A juicer is a good investment for your health, especially if you don’t like or cannot tolerate eating fruits and vegetables in their natural state. Taking a daily multivitamin is also a good idea.

If you are concerned about your (or your loved one) lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet and decide to take a multivitamin, buy high quality. You may get more than you bargained for in some of the cheaper cost vitamins. Here is an article just published on dietary supplements and teenagers, but it concerned all of us. Check it out. “Why Some Dietary Supplements Can Toxify Your Teen.”

Mary

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93 Responses to “Can You Live Healthy Without Eating Any Vegetables?”

  1. I am 58 years old and am trying to figure out what I can eat. My doctor, who has so far helped me more than any other doctor, did a DNA test on me. Bottom line: I can no longer have sugar, gluten, grains, and must eat a low sulfur diet. Oh. And no dairy. My mother died of cancer. My older sister is in stage 4 breast cancer. My DNA/Genetic Testing shows that my body produces too much ammonia and sulfur, hence the diet. I had already cut out sugar and gluten (which included most grains). The most difficult aspect for me to deal with is the low sulfur diet. It pretty much excludes all greens with the exception of lettuce and zucchini. How can I stay healthy without greens? Eating nothing but fruits is too much sugar for my body. Any suggestions?????

    • Hi Alacia! Thanks very much for your question. I hope that you feel better on your diet and that your body recovers from whatever has been hurting you. Very interesting doctor! Is this a medical doctor? Has this doctor helped you at all with your diet changes? Without sitting down with you and discussing your eating preferences and medical history, it is not very easy to suggest a healthy diet for you. Your diet is extremely limited. You shouldn’t be eating any fruit if you are supposed to be on a low sugar diet. No dairy, no gluten, no grains , no sulfur. I am at a loss to advise you what to eat without a deeper consultation. However, I did find this website on a gentleman who follows a low sulfur diet. Check it out. He offers dietary suggestions and vegetables to eat: http://howirecovered.com/sulfur-free-at-last/ . GOOD LUCK! Let me know if you have any questions. I can also offer you a ‘virtual’ consultation that would be more personal, if desired. All the best and I truely hope you feel well soon. Warmly, Mary

  2. I can count on two hands (maybe even one) the number of times that I have voluntarily eaten raw fruits or vegetables in my life. As a kid, I was force-fed them, often to the point of being forced to eat dinner leftovers for breakfast the next day (salad does not taste good before school – trust me). Bless my mom’s heart for fighting the good fight, but ultimately she lost – when I got to high school, she told me it was up to me to eat healthy. Much to her chagrin (and now my wife’s), my eating habits have not changed much since that time.

    Now here’s my big problem – I care very much about my health, including my diet. At age 8, a nutritionist helped me completely turn around my health, virtually curing me of asthma, a smattering of allergies, and a short list of other health issues I dealt with as a young kid. So I know the power of a healthy diet. But I can’t bring myself to stomach fruits and vegetables. It takes 6 oz of water and a good deal of wincing to get a single piece of fruit down (single strawberry, slice of apple, etc). And the same goes for vegetables. I gag when I try to eat them, and I’m long past the age when most people (including myself) assumed that I would ‘grow out’ of this.

    My aversion to these foods has 90% to do with their texture, and about 10% to do with some of the intense flavors that often characterize fruits and vegetables (although, I’m thinking I could get use to the flavors if I could handle their texture). I’ve been told by some health care professionals that I might have some form of sensory processing disorder, but I’ve never been diagnosed officially, and I’m not autistic (nor do I have any symptoms of other ASDs).

    One of the same health care professionals that told me I might have SPD told me that I could mostly get around the nutritional deficiencies of a fruit- and veggie-free diet with some dietary modifications. This guy was not a trained nutritionist, but he recommended loading up on whole grains (which I do – double fiber bread, low-sugar cereals, whole grain pasta/rice) to make up for the lack of fiber, and otherwise encouraged me to eat more nuts and other nutrient-rich foods to make up for the lack of plant nutrients. He also recommended that I consume plant foods in whatever forms I could bear them, which more or less means in forms where the texture component has been removed. So I drink smoothies, eat homemade soups (thank you Vitamix), and get my fair dose of (relatively) healthy tomato sauces, etc. And I mostly stay away from junk food – although my achilles-heel in this area is a very strong sweet tooth.

    This is where I’d love to get your advice: At this point in my life, I remain a relatively health individual. I am an ideal weight, fairly active, I rarely fall ill, and the chronic conditions I mentioned above are still mostly gone, aside from the occasional sports-induced asthma fit and seasonal allergies. But part of me suspects that my continued good health might be the result of my relatively young age (26). Eventually, this nagging voice in my head tells me, my eating habits will catch up with me. I obviously do not want that to happen.

    So, for a guy that cannot bring himself to eat any fruits OR vegetables, do you have any additional recommendations to keep a healthy/balanced diet? Again, the issue is chiefly eating them in whole form – anything where the texture could still be detected. I am similar to the guy you mention in the original post, in that I do not anticipate my palate will ever change – so just telling me to get over it will not be an effective method. Do you have any wisdom to impart?? Thanks in advance :)

    • Dear Eric, First apologies. I was voluntarily ‘disconnected’ from internet connection while on a trip to the states and I just saw your message right now. It sounds like you have a good handle on your diet and health. You are probably eating even better than others who do add fruits and vegetables to their diet. The nutritionist who advised high fiber foods was right on target, keep going with that. The main part of adding fruits and vegetables to the diet are the vitamins and minerals that are in these foods (esp. vitamin C, A, folic acid, potassium). You may want to take a good quality multivitamin a few times a week to be sure you are getting these in your diet. As you mentioned, the texture issue is probably what is the biggest problem on why you cannot eat fruits and veg. Have you tried to make a smoothie with fruit? Do you eat tomato sauce (even on pizza?), Do you eat applesauce? Are there any type of ways to include fruits and vegetables where the texture is palatable for you? Cooked fruits? Raisins?
      Yes, you are young but you are doing well because you are taking steps to keep your health as a top priority. My friend in the article on fruits and vegetables is almost 50 years old, he still doesn’t eat fruits and vegs and he is still quite healthy. So, there is hope for you!
      I don’t know if my answer here helped you in any way, if you have further questions, please let me know. In the meantime, think of ways that you can texturize your fruits /vegs to (perhaps) be able to eat them. Such as in a smoothie form (even if this means adding yogurt/milk to it to make it like a milkshake). Good luck! Mary

      • Hi Mary – thanks very much for your reply. I’ve tried to tell people that I probably eat healthier than a lot of people who are OK with fruits and vegetables, but they never buy it. So it’s good to hear you at least confirm it as a possibility.

        I do try to de-texturize fruits/veggies as much as I can (although I could always do more). Cooked vegetables are only sometimes tolerable, but definitely better than raw, and I definitely work in tomato-based products, some dried fruit, and 3-4 smoothies per week.

        It’s good to hear one more professional say that I will be ok as long as I continue to be intentional with my fruit/veggie-free diet. Thanks for the help!

  3. Hello,

    I do not eat any vegetables except for potatoes and corn. When I was younger I had years of traumatic experiences with vegetables, like greens and cabbages. I also don’t eat certain fruit like tomatoes and cucumbers. I never ate vegetables when I was young, but there was a period of 4 years where I spent the day at a daycare center and there I was force-fed cabbages, green leafy vegetables and I remember crying all the time and suffering every day there because I would not be allowed out of the meal room until I finished everything I was given (including huge amounts of vegetables). The vegetables, which I already didn’t like, that I was forced to eat, made me throw up and vomit them all out in the toilet after every meal.

    When I grew up, I had food trauma of vegetables where now as an adult, I cannot even stand the sight of vegetables, especially cabbages and greens. If any food I eat comes into contact with these vegetables, I would discard them. Like I was served a plate of noodles at a restaurant. I didn’t know there were tiny cabbages hidden inside them until I prodded the noodles and discovered the vegetables mixed with the noodles. I immediately felt so nauseous that I went to the toilet and threw up all the noodles I ate. It was an involuntary, instinctive reaction that I had no control of.

    I also do not drink any form of liquid milk or dairy. I do not eat ice cream either. My parents told me I never drank milk after I was 2 years old, and that I would throw up when I drank milk. I don’t necessarily hate it, but whenever it gets into my system, I get extremely nauseous and queasy and instinctively puke.

    However, I eat most fruit (except banana, tomato and cucumber which make me feel queasy too). My diet is also very healthy since I do not eat fast food or processed meats (like sausages, ham or bacon). I also do not eat red meat, beef or pork.

    My entire diet only consists of hardboiled egg, tofu (non-fried), steamed fish (tuna, mackerel, ikan bilis), boiled herbal chicken, baked potatoes, plain egg/rice noodles, fruits (only papaya, apple, pear, grapes, lychee, rambutans, longans, mangoes, kiwi, watermelon, honeydew). I take a full multivitamin and 1000mg omega-3 capsule everyday.

    Besides vegetables, can you tell me what is lacking in my diet since what I listed are the only things I eat. Also, what foods are good substitutes for vegetables?

    • Hello Ash, Thanks for your story and question. I understand why you don’t eat vegetables and your physical reaction to vegetables (throwing up). You have been in a traumatic experience at the daycare when you were younger. I would consider the repeated behavior you described, (making you sit in the meal room and force fed your food) as a type of abuse. If I knew any of my kids were being subjected to a situation like that, I would take action because as you can see, being force fed has detrimental consequences for a person’s mental health.
      As far as your diet, I cannot make 100% clear conclusions on what you are missing /lacking in your diet because I do not know the quantities of what you eat. However, just a quick look I could say that you are missing fiber and carbohydrates (unless you eat the fruits raw for the fiber and your intake of egg and rice noodles is very high to help with carbohydrate). It seems too that your diet lacks essential fatty acids (and good fats ) because you don’t eat a lot of oils , butter, avocados, seeds , nuts… and lacking a calcium source.
      Good job on the vitamins, and for substituting for the vegetables, keep eating the fruits and you should be ok.
      My main suggestions would be to add some healthy fats: avocados, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils (like olive oil), along with some whole grain carbs: wheat bread, brown rice. Since you do not eat any type fo liquid milk or dairy (I assume this includes hard cheese and yogurt), then you need to keep your bones strong by either a good calcium/vitamin D supplement, or even better-good amounts of sunlight, and weight bearing exercise (both of these keep your bones strong).
      Good luck, let me know if you have any questions. And don’t worry, your diet is quite okay-just needs a little ‘tweaking’ depending on the quantities of the foods you eat.
      Warmly, Mary

  4. Hello Mary,

    I’ve become fearful for my life longevity. I’m afraid of dying young because I eat 0 vegetables. (except the occasional corn and plenty of potatoes). I eat fruits, mostly tangerines/mandarins, apples, bananas, and sometimes grapes. on the weekdays i usually eat chicken, fish (kwai), homemade french fries, spaghetti, etc. all used with olive oil/wheat products, and i use a sugar substitute for koolaid. and drink around 2 bottles of water a day plus i take 2 fiber tablets a day. on the weekends, that’s when i splurge and eat out with friends and family. I haven’t seen a doctor for about 6 years. I’m afraid of how my heart is doing. I am currently 25 about to turn 26 in July. I’ve been trying out different veggies and I CANNOT eat them. I try so hard to swallow them and I cant. they make my gag reflex go off. My taste buds are incredibly sensitive and anything I don’t like, i automatically reject. Is my current diet ok for living a long healthy life? MUST I eat veggies to live a long healthy life and see my children grow? (currently i have no children but plan to one day) Or is my diet ok? what do i need? what do you recommend? I don’t want to die of a heart attack or something at the age of 50something….

    Thank you so much for your time.

    -Mary

    • oh and i consume fat free milk and low fat butter.

    • Hi Mary…thanks for your question. You are young but you are have the right thinking to start to be concerned about your long-term health. No, you don’t have to eat veggies to be 100% healthy. Keep going with the fruits and your current eating plan. You didn’t mention about exercise ? Do you do any sport? This is important to have some physical activity. What also keeps you healthy is controlling your stress and having a good mental attitude. It sounds like you have both of these under control. If you are never sick, then you don’t really need to go to a doctor, but you may want to consider just having a doctor do an overall check, to be sure your blood pressure and sugar levels are in the right control. Hope this is helpful-sounds like you are doing okay! Thanks again Mary -let me know if you have any other questions. I am here to help :)

      • Thank you for responding Mary!

        Unfortunately I used to work out 3-5 times a week just basic cardio on the treadmill or elliptical for around 30-hour. I dont have alot of time with work, school, family, etc. Therefore I’ve had to stop and i have not worked out or done any physical activity (besides walking up and down the small 2 story stairs at work and at home) lol other than that im usually sitting in front of a computer doing work/homework/helping family/etc. My posture is shot, back is always hurting. But I cant afford to visit a Chiro. I do get sick ocassionally but not enough to need a doctor. usually just over the counter medicines do the trick. Just the cold/flu every few months or so when the flu season is around. I dont feel stressed, thankfully. But yes i was worried about my health since i saw a news article about a man who died in his 40-50s from a heart attack because he didnt eat right. so i was just worried. I’ll try my best to get back to the working out. Its tough but I know it has to be done. :(

  5. Dear Mary,

    I’m so glad to have found this article. I have never really many vegetables. Up until a few years ago, the only veggie i ate was potatoes. Now i eat tomato sauce, tomato soup, basil, cilantro and green onions. It’s hard for me to eat enough of any of those to constitute a serving. All other vegetables make me gag uncontrollably. I just can’t get them down. Apples and pears are the only fruits i can stand eating without being pureed. I will eat any fruit pureed, except bananas. My diet mainly consists of whole grain bread, roasted chicken, beef, rice, sometimes smoothies. I try to avoid processed foods.

    I’m 28 years old and i had my first baby 6 months ago. Before my baby i had a BMI of 23, now i have a BMI of 29. I gained a lot of weight during pregnancy and i haven’t lost any of it. I have never been concerned about my weight, and even after gaining 45 pounds i wouldn’t say i hate my body. But carrying this much weight is impractical. It’s harder to bend and move and i don’t like that. I’m also concerned about the health risks that come along with being over weight.

    I don’t want to raise my child with my eating habits. She has recently started solids and i am feeding her the foods our doctor recommends. I am also taking this opportunity to taste all foods i have around to give to her, since they are all a mushy texture, which makes them better, but some still make me gag (broccoli, green beans). Right now i can feed her anything and she wont argue. But when she gets older, she might say, “if you don’t eat it, why should i?”. The main reason i am working on changing my eating habits is to set a good example for her. The second reason is that i want to loose weight. While i gradually add vegetables to my diet, how can i eat more healthy in the mean time. Any suggestions of non vegetable ways to get a variety of nutrients with little fat would be greatly appreciated. I go on brisk 1 hour walks twice a day with my baby in the stroller. It’s hard for me to do higher intensity physical activities because that would require a babysitter.

    • Dear Amy, thank you for your question and comment! Apologies for the delay in answering – we are on vacation. For your worry on whether your child will question your eating habits and then reject vegetables if you don’t eat them: for the moment, focus on giving your baby a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (along with other foods). Establishing good eating habits and tasting everything is key for her to grow well. By the time your child recognizes that you don’t eat everything (probably around 7 years old or later) they will have good eating habits that should continue. For your weight, it takes several months after baby to get back to pre baby weight- so,don’t lose hope- keep up the walking and sport and for a suggestion on foods to add: beans, nuts and avocados. Beans such as chick peas (hummus), nuts for health and appetite filling and avocados for a nutrition power packed food. Take care of yourself too- plenty of rest – when we feel good, we eat well. Take care and let me know if you have any other questions. Warmly, Mary

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