When it comes to going sugar-free or embracing a lower sugar lifestyle, the topic of fruit (& low fructose fruits) usually confuses many and can cause a many domestic arguments (I’ve seen it happen!).
Should you eat them if you’re on a sugar type ‘detox’? Isn’t all natural sugar ok for you? How much per day is recommended? Which fruits are lower in fructose? Are dates a sugar bomb?
As an overall line, fruit is absolutely healthy but it’s worth knowing what your low fructose fruits are and becoming mindful for what fruit does for you and deciding how you want to include it into your diet.
Personally I’ve found that eating lots of dried fruit and sweet smoothies/juices makes me crave more sweetness so I stick to the whole fruit versions and opt for lower fructose fruits more frequently.
Can you eat fruit whilst living sugar-free?
- Absolutely. Plenty of people happily and healthily live mostly without refined sugar but with a little natural fruit in their diet. I eat all fruit here and there but nothing regularly as a habit and opt for low fructose fruits where I can, trying to eat seasonally and location based (e.g. what is native to that area).
- Fruit does contain sugar in the form of fructose, but the fibre that comes with fruit (think skins etc.) and nutrients help your body slow down the fructose release on your body (& liver) and process it more effectively.
- Fruit can impact your cravings (subjectively!). I’ve had some say eating an apple will bring on sugar cravings and others who say they eat 3 bananas and don’t find it makes them crave sugar. There are no definitive rules it and depends on you and many other factors (habits, diet history etc.). See if you can be your own body’s detective and notice what goes on with different foods.
To sum up my own experience, I find the more overall sweetness I have in my diet, the more I can get on the train of starting to crave it. The weeks when I am more savoury, the less I crave and think about sugar – I often don’t want it when it’s offered which I find very interesting as this was never the case previously. I will also add, I find my pre-menstrual week changes my cravings.
If you want to embark on changing your tastebuds to sweetness, it does pay off to know your low fructose fruits (especially if you’re currently eating a fair few portions a day) so you can make a few less sweet swaps and really that fruit isn’t going to put back on some sugar train.
What are the low fructose fruits?
Starting with the lowest and getting higher, here are some common low fructose fruits:
- Tomatoes and avocados (yes technically fruits!)
- Lemons and limes
- Cantaloupe melon
- Raspberries, blackberries & strawberries
- Kiwi fruit
What are the higher fructose fruits?
Starting with the highest and most sweet natural eats:
- Dried fruits (Dates, raisins, figs etc.)
Suggestions for eating high or low fructose fruits
1. Make some appealing swaps (appealing to you that is!). For example:
- Try berries on your porridge instead of banana
- Snack on a clementine instead of dried fruit or grapes
- Make your own fructose-free muesli and then add some fresh berries instead of raisins
- Try Kiwi fruit instead of mango if you’re feeling tropical!
- Go for cantaloupe melon fruit snack packs instead of grapes
2. Reduce your portion or use of higher fructose fruits (to reduce total sweetness in things):
- Use half a banana in a smoothie (instead of a whole) or try half a banana with some berries
- Slash the use of dates or any dried fruit in recipes (sometimes I’ve sweetened a whole recipe with one date!)
- Be conscious of your portions of grapes & watermelon which are both very easy to eat a lot of
- Be conscious of an excess dried fruits in savoury dishes as a staple in your diet e.g coronation chicken
- Use higher fructose fruits more as special treats or as dessert substitutes e.g. a banana smothered in a nut butter
- Eat higher fructose fruits more when in season or native to that environment (e.g. somewhere tropical)
3. Slow down the sugar release by eating fruit with some protein & fat. For example:
- Add some nut butter to apple (total yum!)
- Have with some cottage cheese or full fat natural yoghurt
- Eat with a main meal rather than as a stand alone snack
What about eating fruit on a ‘sugar-detox’?
Not saying that this is gospel, but lots of people have experienced that when you really limit or remove fructose from your diet, the physical sugar cravings (note not emotional!) tend to die down.
Even just 3-5 days of a savoury based diet can have an impact and force you to investigate non-fruit based snacks if they’ve become your default. Thus it’s great for just finding new things and experimenting.
However, this isn’t necessary and can be of the restrictive nature which can backfire. Try not to eliminative whole food groups and use this as a way to experiment in a wider fun way with your diet.