I met a friend on the weekend who wouldn’t eat from my plate of cut up fresh organic seasonal fruit because she has quit sugar. She has no allergies to the fructose found in fruit that she is aware of, and looked at my plate of watermelon, strawberries and pineapple with want in her eyes and drool on her lips.
Fruit is not the enemy.
There are many articles peppering the internet about quitting sugar and of course the most famous adversary for this in Australia is Sarah Wilson – someone I respect greatly.
I’ve had the chance to look through the IQS program when my sister-in-law went through it and the food that’s recommended to eat throughout the eight-week program is nutrient rich, balanced and healthy. It’s real food, which is what I recommend for my clients and friends to eat as the bulk of their diet.
There aren’t many areas of recommendations within the IQS juggernaut that I don’t agree with, though there is a theme that I noticed that does cause a lot of questions in the forum section during the program and one that I take a somewhat different view on. It’s about fruit.
Many ‘quit sugar’ programs, including IQS advise to remove all fruit from the diet during the course of the eight week program due to the level of fructose in it. Fructose is a naturally occurring fruit sugar (carbohydrate) and can also be made from corn and sugarcane. Fructose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during the digestion process.
The sugar found in cans of soft-drink, lollies and processed is nearly always sucrose. Sucrose is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
There is no denying that a diet high in processed sugar is not one that helps people to thrive, especially when it comes in the forms of mass produced, over-processed fast-food like the majority of the 80,000 foods to be found in today’s supermarkets. However removing fruit and therefore the naturally occurring fructose within it from the diet is not necessary for optimum health and does not need to be done to decrease the instance of illness, heart disease, obesity and diabetes that is rising in our country.
The best thing we could do, would be to remove all processed foods from the diet and eat what Mother Nature has provided us. Including fruit.
As an aside, I have personally yet to meet or know of a person who lives nearly solely on fruit, a vegan who has a high amount of fruit in their diets, or even a person who eats a whole food diet including meats and large amounts of fruits (and so therefore fructose) suffering from any of the diseases that a high processed diet may cause. The fruit is not the problem.
The idea of removing fruit completely during a quitting sugar program is to wean yourself off from sugar cravings and addictions, as many of us now suffer from, so I have no concern about this and I see the benefits, however removing fruit from your diet completely as a way of achieving optimum health in the long run is absolutely not necessary.
I know that you may read that ‘fructose is fructose’ and that it is the same whether found in fruit or a can of Coca Cola, so one should steer well away from them both, but put quite simply, the body does not process these two forms of fructose in the same fashion (primarily due to the fibre in fruit) and any man and his dog should be able to understand that the benefits of absorbing the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and nutritional content in an orange vs. a can of battery acid… err, I mean Coca Cola is not even comparative, it should be fruit all the way.
There is also nothing inherently wrong with having a fresh juice every now and again. As long as you don’t drink it as a side to your burger and fries or in a 500ml glass when sitting down to a bowl of high-sugar breakfast cereal on a daily basis. Juice too, even though it does not have fibre in it, is still much more nutritionally rich than a can of Coca Cola, or cordial, or chocolate milk.
You should never be made to feel afraid of eating real food. Barring allergies, it is the only thing you don’t have to worry about. My concern in this idea of removing fruit from our diet is that we are making a rule about natural foods that provide us with many health benefits that fast-food and processed food does not.
I found a great list of food ‘rules’ that may come in handy from real food activist Michael Pollan. While some of this information is US centric, it fits within our eating behaviour in Australia also.
Have you removed all fruit from your diet due to quitting sugar? I’d love to hear from you below.
7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating
Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Probably the first two words are most important. “Eat food” means to eat real food — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
- Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
- It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
- Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.