Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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Are you exceeding your fruit ration?

I recently noticed that I seem to subconsciously ration my fruit intake.  If I’m feeling hungry then I might grab and apple or an orange, but if I have had one or two already that day I’ll naturally think that I ought to eat something else.

But the trouble is that the alternative is that the alternative is probably far less healthful, and perhaps also less delicious.  In the majority of cases it will basically be toast or a sandwich.  If I’m lucky it might be something more exotic like some falafel and houmous.  Either way, why am I favouring these foods over fruit, which tastes so good and is packed full of nutrition?

Initially I thought that this problem was uniquely my own problem, but having spoken to a few people and having started to observe other people’s behaviour in this regard, I’ve realised that I am not alone.  Many if us seem to think that we should have some fruit every day – but not TOO much.  You can’t have too much of a good thing!

So why do we ration fruit?

For many of us it is probably something that we inadvertently learned as children and there are undoubtedly some cultural factors that could lead us to develop this attitude:

  1. Parents do their grocery shopping once a week and that food needs to last for the whole week.  If the children eat anything too quickly then the parents worry that there won’t be any left later in the week and tell the children to only eat a limited amount each day.  This applies to lots of foods, but also to fruit.  On the other hand, long-life foods that are well stocked in the cupboards and freezer don’t need to be rationed so much and bread is often the fall-back food to feed hungry mouths.  So we end up thinking that fruit is scarce but bread is abundant.
  2. As adults we now hear a lot in the media about the risks of eating too much sugar, and fruit is often mentioned in these articles alongside junk foods like fizzy drinks and confectionery.  If nothing else, this causes confusion, and a sub-conscious association between fruit and the sugar in junk food.
  3. The governments 5 a day guidelines have a rather unfortunate side effect of implying that 5 a day is an optimal number of fruit and vegetables to eat in a day, rather than a bare minimum.  So if you think that you’ll have at least a couple of portions of salad or vegetables in your day, then 3 fruits is your limit!

Stop rationing fruits

The fact is that when you stop and think about it, the vast majority of people know that the health benefits of eating lots of fruit will far outweigh any negative effects, if indeed there are any.

The more fruit we eat, the more vitamins, minerals, fibre and phyto-nutrients we will digest, and the less harmful or nutrient poor foods we will eat.  Good stuff displaces bad stuff, its a simple equation.

What about eating too much sugar?  When you eat fruits as whole fruits, your body can process the sugars very efficiently.  Nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell states that it is almost impossible to overdose on sugar by eating whole fruits.  To do so you would probably need to eat a diet comprising almost 100% fruit, which contrary to the perception, even most “fruitarians” don’t do and is certainly not a risk for an average person.  There may be some risks relating to a true fruitarian diet, mainly the possibility of insufficient mineral intake, but you need to be eating bucket loads of fruit before you need to start thinking about that.

The bottom line is simple.  If you enjoy eating fruit, eat more.  If you run out, buy more.  Your body will thank you.



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