In our health-conscious society, it’s hard to know what’s OK to eat anymore. From meat to gluten to dairy, nearly every type of food has been deemed unhealthy, or a potential waistline expander. And now, according to today’s bestselling diet books, fruit salad is one of the worst things you can eat if you want to lose weight.
In a piece for the Globe and Mail, Dave McGinn wrote about the current crusade against apples and bananas ("Is Fruit Sabatoging Your Weight Loss?") led by the authors of The 4-Hour Body, The Dukan Diet and Why We Get Fat. The diets outlined in these books either prohibit eating fruit or limit one’s daily intake to just a portion each day. If you want to lose weight, the authors say, cut out the carbs in fruit.
Gary Taubes, a food scientist and author of Why We Get Fat, told Best Health, “Somebody who is 100 pounds overweight might not be able to eat any fruit because the carbs and the fructose in the fruit might trigger an insulin response that keeps them fat. Even green vegetables could be too much depending on how sensitive they are to the carbs.”
Other experts agree with Taubes and his cohort. According to Dr. Melina Jampolis at CNN, fruit is higher in water and fibre and lower in calories than other foods. However, Jampolis says, fruit also has three times the calories as nonstarchy veggies, such as leafy greens. Freely eating fruit can mean up to 250 extra calories a day.
But low/no-fruit diets go against what nutritionists have been telling us for years: A healthy diet includes lots of fruits and veggies. Earning a place in the spotlight with New York Times Magazine cover stories and celebrity followers, these diets and their creators are loudly sending a message to us (and children and teens) that the primary effect of food is its impact on our weight. We are forgetting that food is also about feeding our minds and bodies with vitamins and other nutrients. Foods is also about culture, family and sharing, and hopefully, pleasure, too.
At this point, no public health agency has stopped recommending several servings of fruit a day. Even if the season’s sweet stone fruits and succulent berries have been deemed diet saboteurs by some, they’re undeniably yummy and more importantly, nutritious.