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Ask Steph & Willow: Is it possible to eat too much fruit?

 

Ask Steph & Willow: Is it possible to eat too much fruit?

Q: I’ve been eating a couple pieces of fruit with breakfast, a piece with lunch, and a few as snacks throughout the day. Am I going overboard?

A: We get this question a LOT, from friends, family, clients, and even strangers at the grocery store. The short answer is yes, it is possible to eat too much fruit.  Here’s why:

The concept of eating too much fruit can be difficult to process, since it seems like fruits and veggies are something we’re constantly being encouraged to eat more of – and with good reason. Only a third of us are eating the recommended 2 servings of fruit each day. It’s true that the majority of us might not be meeting the daily mark when it comes to fruit, but that doesn’t merit an all-you-can-eat approach.

There are lots of reasons to eat enough fruit each day – increased antioxidant and fiber intake are just a couple of the mega-benefits. But there are also some solid reasons not to go overboard. One is calories.  Fruit is not a calorie-free food – or even a low-calorie food – and eating too much can lead to weight gain. Another major reason to keep your fruit noshing in check is nutrient balance.

If fruit is replacing protein-rich foods or healthy fats, then your body’s not getting all of the nutrients it needs. On that same note, if you’re eating a few pieces of fruit for every snack, you’re mainly consuming carbohydrates and that can lead to swings in your energy level. Instead, opt for a piece of fruit and a quarter cup of nuts or 1/2 cup of berries stirred into nonfat Greek yogurt to provide an energy sustaining balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

Before we go further, let’s look at how much fruit is recommended each day.

Girls 9-18, Boys 9-13, Women 31-51+: 1.5 cups per day
Boys 14-18, Women 19-30, Men 19-51+: 2 cups per day

It sounds like you’re eating about five cups of fruit each day. We’d recommend bringing that amount down to no more than two cups per day. To do this, try choosing just one piece of fruit at snack time, opting for crudités with hummus as your lunchtime side instead of that piece of fruit, and/or adding some veggies at breakfast so you can have a smaller portion of fruit. Also, kudos to you for being so pro-produce – seeing you select fruit as a snack, or with a meal no doubt inspires some of the people who are falling below their recommended fruit intake each day!

Now let’s look at what counts as a cup of fruit:

  • 1 cup sliced fruit, berries, grapes
  • 1 medium sized piece of fruit (like an apple, banana, pear, orange, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (*We recommend you not eat more than 1/4 cup dried fruit each day. Dried fruit is much more concentrated in calories, and because it lacks water, it doesn’t fill you up quite as much as the fresh stuff.)
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice (*We recommend you not consume more than 1/2 cup fruit juice each day. Fruit juice also doesn’t fill you up as much as whole fruit, as it’s missing much of the fiber. In other words, an equal amount of calories from fruit juice won’t make you feel as full as an equal amount from the whole fruit.)

Do you meet your fruit recommendation each day?  What’s your favorite way to have fruit with a meal or snack?

 

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