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Since the age of ten, I have been a type 1 diabetic, which means I have now been living longer with diabetes than with a properly functioning pancreas. People like to ask if I got diabetes because I overate sugar. Another favorite of mine is should you be eating fruit? There’s a lot of sugar in it, and you have diabetes.
Before diving in, I want to take a moment to remind you that I am trying my hardest to be unbiased when I say this. Fruit is good for you. The amount of research proving the statement I just made is astonishing. Such as a 2014 meta-analysis, which examined Fruit and vegetable consumption with mortality caused by cardiovascular disease and cancer, which concluded: “higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes, particularly from cardiovascular diseases.”
There are a few reasons why adding fruit and vegetables to someone’s diet can be helpful. First and foremost, fruit is a nutrient-dense food source which means it contains the vitamins, minerals, and “healthy” carbohydrates our body needs.
- Fruit is lower in calories and harder to overeat
- Fruit contains fiber which helps keep your gut happy and helps slow digestion.
- Fruit helps you poop because…fiber.
In its unprocessed form, fruit is high in fiber, which acts as a gentle scrub brush to your intestines. Fiber expands in your GI tract, slowing the digestion process. This reason alone can be why individuals with more fruit and vegetables in their diets have an easier time maintaining or losing weight.
When you recognize you are full, it becomes easier to eat less, and when caloric intake decreases, it becomes a little easier to lose or maintain weight.
“But I eat a lot of fruit and can’t lose weight.”
Be aware of what kind of fruit you are eating. Are you eating a mango, or do you have dried mango? Are you having fresh-squeezed orange juice or a big old glass of Tropicana?
There is nothing inherently wrong with fruit juice or dried fruit so long as you know the portion size. Dried fruit and fruit juice tend to be lower in fiber, and additional sugar can be added.
Sugar isn’t the problem. The lack of fiber is the issue and the ease of overconsumption. If we look at intentional weight loss and someone is unaware of the extra calories, it matters.
So can someone blame sugar? I wouldn’t, and here’s why.
Should you blame sugar?
The short answer is no because it is far more complicated than we like to admit. It’s not simply eliminating an entire group or additive from your diet because you will always find something else to blame. Weight management boils down to calories, and with intentional weight loss, someone needs to be in a caloric deficit.
Sure, you can remove processed sugar from your diet, but if you are always hungry and don’t know how to manage it, is sugar really to blame? No, it’s the current ability someone has to cope with the stressors in their life.
Your ability to navigate your emotions, practice health-promoting behaviors, and make small manageable changes can lead to weight loss but, more importantly, is a sustainable practice.
Labeling food as good or bad does little to help you understand why you make certain choices. Instead of eliminating everything, I suggest answering the following questions for yourself:
- What are you eating?
- When are you eating?
- What were you doing before eating?
- How did you feel while eating?
- How did you feel after eating?
This might seem like a lot, and it’s ok. If you take the time to answer these questions, you’ll notice a trend that needs your attention.
Give it a try, and if you need some help, I wrote an ebook all about stress eating that teaches you more about the food you eat, the feelings you have, and why you make specific food choices.