Jenny Lapan takes a self-photo in a mirror
Digest In First Person Issue 30 Transformations

Jenny Lapan: ‘I Feel Better Than Ever on a Fruit-Based Diet’

I spent my childhood years running around my neighborhood and playing sports. I have always been active, athletic, slim and interested in health. My story is not as dramatic or subject to an amazing visual “before and after” as some others are. Sharing what I have learned in the past 15 years would be a great honor. I will try to humbly pass on what I have found most profound and effective.

My health concerns as a teenager were largely my skin (acne), insomnia and energy problems. My energy would fluctuate throughout the day. I would often get waves of energy late in the night after passing on a respectable bedtime. I had deep, painful acne on the sides of my face and sometimes around my jawline. You won’t be able to stalk my high school yearbook photo to see it—the acne was cleverly covered up with makeup and good angles. From my teens into my 20s, I struggled silently with insomnia and sleep issues. Looking back, I didn’t think much of it then. I punished myself about going to bed earlier, and I wrote to myself in my diary about eating better and getting more fit. I scrapbooked photographs of strong, energetic-looking women and just wanted to feel happier.

Jenny Lapan photographs herself in December 2013Working out and exercising was a big part of my life, but in some ways, I never thought that the effort I was putting in was paying off as much as it should have. I had “skinny girl” cellulite, had trouble gaining muscle and was always tired. Reading this paragraph now is like hearing a fire alarm go off. How could I not see it? I am quite sure that I had hormonal imbalances, beyond those of a typical teenager. I didn’t speak up about them and didn’t make the right changes to help myself feel better. My general diet consisted of low-fat cheese, low-fat meat, low-fat cookies, carrot sticks, tuna, cereal and an apple and one banana per day. Thanks to the Internet and influx of information, so many health topics have come to the forefront. More of these stories can be shared, and access to the information I needed desperately came into my life, and it couldn’t have come sooner.

Jenny Lapan gives a peace sign behind a "Fish Are Friends" sign in New York CityOn Thanksgiving 2000, at age 22, I decided to become a vegetarian as an experiment. I stuck to it and never looked back. Four years later, I became a vegan as an experiment. At the time, I was very active—running a lot and coaching a high school field hockey team. I had a lot of difficulty finding the right foods to eat at the right time of day. I didn’t want to be too “full” during a workout, nor did I want to be too hungry. I also experienced extreme energy crashes in the afternoon. I don’t remember how, but I found two “raw food” products that helped me get through my busy days. One was called “Greens Plus,” which is a bar made with dates, almonds and spirulina. The other was a powder drink supplement called “Juvo” made from strange ingredients such as mushroom, pumpkin and job’s tears. Nevertheless, these products helped me, leading me to start understanding what raw food meant and who raw foodists were.

Jenny Lapan is photographed in 1988I spent some months trying to sprout seeds, make complicated salads and create mock-anything-raw. In April 2005, I became aware of Dr. Doug Graham through his VegSource forum and had an e-mail consultation with him. After that e-mail exchange, I finally started to understand the quantities of fruit (and carbs) that I should be eating in order to have the right energy to live the life I wanted to live (an active one). He said wonderfully simple things in his e-mail like, “an orange is not enough” and “drop the Juvo, that’s not human food.” Many of Dr. Graham’s one-liners still run through my head, appreciatively so.

The past 10 years have had their ups and downs. I attended two Health & Fitness Weeks with Dr. Graham as well as his fasting retreat in Costa Rica. At home, I educated myself on raw food, ripening fruit, food combinations, how to travel, etc. I failed many times, and I have gotten back up after all of them. I think now that the concept of “failing” has left my vocabulary. Back then, failing meant one of two things—either not eating enough calories or going back to processed vegan foods, which did not serve my goals. Things such as frozen veggie burgers, granola bars and other sorts of packaged, prepared, processed foods cause major setbacks for a new raw/vegan.

Jenny Lapan is photographed with fruit in 1990Today, my body is extremely sensitive, intelligent and makes good food choices automatically. My body can also bounce back from less-than-ideal choices. Most importantly, my body doesn’t give up on sleep, exercise, water, peace, and laughter—five things more important for health than food, in my personal opinion. I am going to share with you my best tips from being on this journey for 10 years. I don’t have any answers for anyone. I’m on a path and try my best daily. I go on and off 100 percent raw food. I still see nonvegan athletes and models and I think “How, why?” But I feel better than ever on a fruit-based diet, and can’t imagine another way.

Mysteries of food, diet, genetics and human beings are all around us. I think the best thing that we can do for our friends, family and society is not to give out advice but to empower other people. People need to pay enough attention to their surroundings, bodies and information available (both true and false) to make their own choices. We need to motivate, but we also need to support—and we need to give. I’ve been empowered by so many people along my journey to now.

Jenny Lapan and Harley "Durianrider" Johnstone are photographed at a Costa Rica retreat in 2007Some of the people who have empowered me to learn more and make my own choices have been: Dr. Doug Graham (The 80/10/10 Diet, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage), Victoria Boutenko (Green for Life), Joe Decker (World’s Fittest You), Bikram Choudhury (Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class), Tonya Zavasta (Quantum Eating), Arnold Ehret (The Mucusless Diet Healing System), Joel Fuhrman (Fasting and Eating for Health), Jay and Linda Kordich (Live Foods, Live Bodies!), Norman Walker (Become Younger), Durianrider (YouTube), Tim Van Orden (YouTube), Rich Roll (podcast), Gabby Reece (Big Girl in the Middle), Caroline Knapp (Appetites), Anne Osborne (Fruitarianism: The Path to Paradise), Kevin Trudeau (Natural Cures), Wynn Claybaugh (Be Nice (Or Else!)), David Lynch (Catching the Big Fish) and Doug Lisle (The Pleasure Trap).

Jenny Lapan’s 15 Best Backup Foods for Raw Food Dudes and Dudettes!

1. Organic pasteurized coconut water

2. Organic steamed yams, squash and carrots

3. Organic raisins (oil-free—check the label)

4. Organic dried fruits like mango, figs, dates, prunes, bananas (sulphate-free—check the label)

5. Organic salt-free almonds and almond butter (raw or pasteurized)

6. Organic barley grass juice powder

7. Organic frozen berries

8. Organic steamed green vegetables (chard, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage)

Jenny Lapan's "Life Imitates Art" image of fruits in a bowl9. Organic seeds (flax, chia, hemp, sesame) (raw or pasteurized)

10. Organic salt-free cooked quinoa or corn items

11. Organic maple syrup (for sweetener and extra calorie needs)

12. Vegan supplements (as needed)

13. Pasteurized juices and smoothies

14. Tea, kombucha and other enjoyable innocuous beverages

15. Organic steamed rice and tofu (use sparingly)

Where am I today with my diet? This winter, I am eating some cooked foods. I am enjoying the benefits and convenience of cooked root veggies and leafy greens. This year, I have taken a particular interest in weight lifting and cross-training. I feel very solid, sturdy and am enjoying the cooked foods. I haven’t gained weight or suffered from the cooked food. The cooked foods are, again, extremely convenient. I feel I’m getting a lot more variety than I would otherwise, and the foods are supporting my increased training quite well. I am definitely the most active that I’ve ever been while on a fruit-based diet. I like to use the term “fruit-based,” and I have every intention to keep using the term and consuming a minimum of 60 percent of my calories from fruit (including nonsweet fruits such as avocado).

Jenny Lapan is photographed in a creative, artsy photoMy skin is clear and smooth. I have occasional blemishes but no chronic breakouts or acne. My skin lightly tans as opposed to the burns I used to experience on a SAD diet. My body responds to exercise very well. I can take many weeks off from training; I can focus on yoga and running; or I can strength-train and experience great benefits. In the past 10 years, I have run about 20 10K or 8K races and done about 300 hot yoga classes. I am training for my first triathlon. I feel confident and fearless. I truly believe that nature provides and cares for us all. I think we’re getting in the way of ourselves as a society, when it comes to the politics of food, but believe that if we care for the planet, she will care for us.

I enjoy nights of restful sleep and give and receive love on a daily basis. I am still healing emotionally every day. I can’t imagine life without the support of fruit-eating. I don’t think it’s the only path to health and happiness, but it’s definitely one potential gateway toward genuine fulfillment. Fruit eating opens up so many doors and so many minds. It’s just wonderful.

Jenny Lapan is photographed in a confident modeMy diet is basically made up of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, without regard to cooked or raw. I highly recommend trying this method for anyone who may not be ready to go 100 percent raw or who has been raw before and needs some alternative support in his or her situation. I don’t think that cooked foods help me heal, detoxify, grow or cleanse. The variety, convenience and relaxed attitude to food, however, are a welcomed benefit of including cooked foods into my diet. The main drawback I find from eating cooked foods is mucus formation and detoxification. I experience symptoms such as ear wax, mucus (boogers!), coated tongue and a slightly puffy or cloudy feeling in the morning.

Regular exercise and my first two meals of the day consisting solely of fruit are usually enough to feel just as good as ever. In other words, I can maintain my health. My daily food intake varies from 1,400 to 2,800 calories a day based on, you guessed it, however I feel that day! My weight fluctuates only within a normal 5-pound range. Lately, I have felt best with the practice of putting off my first meal until about 11 a.m. First thing in the morning, I drink lots of water, lemon water, tea, coconut water and, occasionally, coffee. In the winter, my first meal of the day is typically bananas or dates. In the afternoon, I eat a snack of another fruit such as pears, mangos, plums, apples, grapes or oranges. If I am going to weight-lift or strength-train, sometimes I eat a bit of almond butter in the afternoon, but otherwise my daytime foods are generally overt-fat-free.

Jenny Lapan is photographed with bananas

Dinner can vary quite a bit, but I’d say my favorite dinner is lettuce, yams, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, broccoli and celery (a combination of raw and cooked). I love to work out in the late afternoon (2 to 4 p.m.) so that I can eat dinner as early as possible after exercising. I am not a morning-exercise type of person and have accepted that. In the evening after dinner, I drink tea, water, lemon water and sometimes have another snack. Going to sleep before 11 p.m. is a daily goal and very important for people with a history of sleep issues. Going to sleep by 10 p.m. has the best impact on my energy level. It takes me 30 to 40 minutes to fall sound asleep, which is a far cry from the 3 a.m. clocks that used to glare back at me in my teens and 20s.

Like most people on a fruit-based, plant-based, whole foods diet, I just feel happier, clearer and more positive on this lifestyle. It’s easy and available for most people to adopt today. I love that this diet has become quite popular and “cool.” I love to see juice bars, healthy restaurants and raw food snack brands sprouting up all over the country. I think this positive approach is the best way for the fruit lifestyle to catch on, help the most people and effectively raise the vibration of our entire society.

Mangos and watermelon smoothie in photos by Jenny LapanI hope my knowledge has been useful to you or may be useful to someone you know. It’s been amazing to watch this community grow for the past 10 years. I look forward to meeting more of you!

I’d like to end with a quote from Arnold Ehret’s Rational Fasting, which I recommend along with The Mucusless Diet Healing System as well as all of the other books previously mentioned! I strongly encourage learning more about mucus creation and elimination in the diet for improved health.

If anybody would live from childhood, on absolutely mucusless food, and feed on nothing but fruit, it would be just as certain that he could grow neither old nor sick. I have seen persons who through a mucusless cure have rejuvenated and become beautiful to such an extent that they could not be recognized. Since thousands of years humanity dreams, imagines and paints the fountain of youth, and looks for it sentimentally to the stars, in the suggestion.


Jenny Lapan in a black-and-white self-photograph

Discover Jenny Lapan’s Top 20 Tips for bright and beautiful people!


Recipe for O-Jenny from Jenny Lapan

Hungry for more? Check out Jenny’s O-Jenny and Purple Drank Smoothie recipes!

Recipe for Purple Drank Smoothie from Jenny Lapan


A woman leans against a tree

Check out Jenny’s article “Seeing Through the Many Lenses of Green Beauty”!

About the author

Jenny Lapan

Jenny Lapan

Jenny Lapan was born in 1981 in a suburb of Washington, D.C. She grew up as an active child. Along the way, she experienced surprisingly low energy, sleep disorders, fatigue, and dietary confusion despite her best efforts. At age 19, Jenny began a typical path in a search for health from vegetarian, to vegan, to raw, to a sustainable long-term high-carb, fruit-based diet which she is enthusiastic about. She is an artist, an athlete, and a human girl seeking truth, clarity, and happiness throughout life. She can be found either at the gym, at the movies, or on Twitter at any given time.

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