On Nutrition: Where Does Fruit Fit?

Happy Monday! My latest On Nutrition column, “Fruit: How much should you have in your diet?” ran in yesterday’s Seattle Times, and I want to make one thing crystal clear: I’m not saying that you should not eat fruit!

I feel inclined to point this out, because I received an email last week from a reader who was quite offended that I suggested that people with lactose intolerance should try drinking A2 milk (even though I quite distinctly said that A2 milk was NOT appropriate for people with medically diagnosed lactose intolerance), and I still get emails from people referring to the column I wrote in support of a vegan diet (they are referring to my January column on plant-based diets, in which I quite clearly stated that you can eat a plant-based diet without being vegan or vegetarian.)
No, I am not anti-fruit. If I were, I would be missing out right now on summer’s luscious local berries, cherries and peaches, and that would be sad. I would have to ignore the gorgeous strawberry preserves that my husband canned yesterday, and that would be tragic.
That said, I see the ramifications of the rampant black-or-white, all-or-nothing opinions about fruit, either that it should be shunned (the sugar!) or eaten with abandon (eat your fruits and veggies). I have also had many patients who, in an attempt to overcome their sugar cravings and addictions, manage to successfully ignore the office candy dish and say no to nightly desserts, only to dramatically increase their fruit intake. Yes, fruit is more nutritious than candy, cake and ice cream, but if you are trying to watch your blood sugar and your weight, more fruit is not better.
I had a patient recently who told me that, during a stint in Weight Watchers, that she was told that “no one ever got fat eating fruit.” On the other hand, I’ve had patients who I know are spot-on with their healthy, balanced eating plans all day, but eat several pieces of fruit in the evening, even though they aren’t hungry (emotional/stress eating). This can and often does lead to weight gain.
So please do enjoy fruit, but include it in balanced meals and snacks, and as with any other food, don’t eat it just because it’s there, or you’re bored, or you have the munchies.