Is fruit fattening?
If you're trying to lose weight or be healthy, do you need to avoid or limit your fruit intake? How many pieces should you be having?
You will have heard it before: "Fruit is fattening", "Fruit is full of sugar", "You shouldn't eat too much fruit or you'll gain weight". I used to avoid fruit because I thought it has too much sugar and was making me fat. But is fruit actually fattening?
The short and long answer is NO. Fruit is not fattening at all.
In the health world, there is this annoying habit of blaming weight problems on healthy foods like fruit, dairy foods, whole grains, nuts, avocado etc. But, 'everyday' whole foods are not the problem! It's a red herring. You shouldn't believe everything you read.
To be honest? The problem is that we generally eat too much treat food like chocolate, cake, pies, soft drink. I know that's a boring answer and not what you want to hear but it's the truth.
If you are trying to lose weight, becoming mindful of how much 'treat food' you eat is way, way, way more useful, effective than to count your pieces of fruit.
Fruit has been around forever and for thousands of years, people didn't get fat from fruit. If anything, we are probably eating less fruit than people used to eat but way more processed high-energy junk food. And that's the real problem.
Taking fruit off limits and making it 'bad' for you is a recipe for disaster.
Why? Because it makes you fear a perfectly healthy food. So when you get sweet cravings, you're less likely to turn to a piece of fruit (which is ideal) but rather, keep snooping around for something else that is 'healthier' (like a bliss ball - which is certainly NOT healthier than a piece of fruit).
Things to know about fruit:
- Fruit is actually really healthy. I promise
- ALL fruits are good for you. There are no BAD fruits. Some fruits are naturally higher in sugar than others but it's slow-burning sugar.
- Yes, fruit has sugar. And it's called fructose, which is slow burning and reacts differently in your body when packaged in a whole piece of fruit. Where sugar comes from matters.
- Fruit is fibre and antioxidant rich.
- Fruit is naturally low in calories. (And because of the fibre, your body absorbs fewer calories than you would if you ate a fibre-less item with same amount of calories!)
- You don't binge on fruit!
- Fruit is whole food.
- Fruit can give you a healthy glow.
- Fruit is delicious and satiating.
- Seasonal fruit is an affordable superfood. Click here for more budget-friendly health tips!
- Fruit consumption is linked with lower risk of disease.
When 50% of Aussie's aren't meeting the very basic recommendation to eat 1-2 pieces of fruit each day, our problem is not that we eat too much fruit, it's that we don't eat enough.
Let's stop demonising a perfectly healthy food. It's damaging to our relationship with food and making healthy eating feel complicated and restrictive.
Want to lose weight still? Do it the healthy way. Don't cut out fruit! Make sure you're hitting the recommended serves of fruit (2) and vegetables per day (aim for at least 7!) If you fill up on all the good stuff, you may not have room for the junk.
What is the Healthiest Way to Eat Fruit?
Unlike what Instagram makes you think, fruit doesn't have to be fancy, expensive or exotic to be good for you. You don't need to buy punnets of Blueberries, Acai berries, Goji berries and other trendy berries to get an antioxidant boost. Just eat a whole piece of fruit.
- Eat fruit whole -
Munching on a whole piece of fruit, with the skin on, is about as healthy as it gets. It's way healthier than any 'health food' snack or protein ball. And at around $1 a pop, it's a damn cheap and easy way to get healthy. So, when you're hungry for a snack or craving something sweet - bite into an apple, pick up a juicy mandarin, enjoy a punnet of strawberries or eat a banana. Click here for more budget-friendly health tips!
- Eat fruit that is in season -
It's cheaper, tastier and healthier. Look for the discounted fruit that was grown in your country. Read why I think seasonal eating is the bomb and find out some my tips for always knowing what to buy at the shops.
- All fruits are good fruits -
Also, there are NO unhealthy fruits. Don't avoid bananas because you think they have too many carbs. Don't only pick berries because they are lower in sugar. Each fruit has value. Do not discriminate against fruit ;) Anyone who tells you that fruit is unhealthy doesn't know what they are talking about.
-Try new/different fruits -
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away?" Yes but its actually best to eat a variety of different fruit by trying new fruits throughout the year. Variety ensures you get a mix of nutrients instead of the same nutrients day-in and day-out. It's more like 'a piece of fruit a day keeps the doctor away". Each time you go to the shops, get a different fruit.
Image via The Nude Nutritionist Instagram.
Is Fruit Juice Healthy?
Have you ever juiced your own orange juice? If you have, you'll know that it takes at least six oranges to make a serve of fruit juice! Now, when would you ever sit down to eat six oranges? Pretty much never, right...
It's common sense to know that eating six oranges at one time isn't the best choice. Even still, eating the six oranges instead of juicing them would be even better for you because real, fresh fruit has way more fibre than juice. Fibre not only keeps you regular, it helps you feel full and also prevents against diseases.
So, when I talk about fruit - I'm not talking about fruit juice. Fruit juice is different. I think fruit juice is a nice occasional or 'sometimes' food.
Look how many oranges went into this cup 250ml of orange juice.
Image via The Nude Nutritionist Instagram.
Is Dried Fruit Healthy?
One of the things that makes fruit filling is that it's made up of loads of water. When you dehydrate or dry out fruit, it shrinks. And because it's smaller in size, you'll want to eat more to fill up. So you need more dried fruit - and it's more dense in sugar.
But does that mean you should avoid dried fruit? No way.
Just be mindful of dried fruit. Opt for no added sugar varieties. Grabbing a family-size bag of dried fruit and snacking on it from your desk isn't a good plan (You shouldn't eat in front of a screen or at your desk, anyway).
When you have dried fruit, have a handful and then eat it mindfully and slowly. If it didn't satisfy, then next time reach for a whole piece of fruit instead. If you're hungry, then eat substantial, non-snack food like a sandwich...