It’s fair to say that we get asked to dispel a LOT of myths when it comes to what you can and can’t eat when you quit sugar. And at the top of the list? Fruit.
But despite the confusion, the truth is you can definitely eat fruit when you quit sugar! In fact, we encourage one to two pieces of whole fruit every single day after Week 5 of our I Quit Sugar: 8-Week Program. And once you’ve quit sugar for good, feel free to indulge forever more!
But before you go bananas on, err, bananas, check out our guide.
You can eat fruit, just not ALL of the fruit!
Fruit contains fructose, it’s true. But the difference between whole fruit and fruit juice or honey, for example, is that the fructose in whole fruit is bound up with plenty of fibre and nutrients to slow down the sugar release.
I Quit Sugar recommends one to two small pieces of fruit a day. Depending on the fruit (see below) and combined with a recommended six to nine serves of veggies per day, this will give you a healthy dose of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, without overloading the liver.
Of course, when you eat crappy processed added sugars on top of that, your fructose intake quickly goes through the roof and you easily tip over the World Health Organization’s recommendation of six to nine teaspoons of added sugar per day. But when you quit added sugar (and as long as you’re not fructose intolerant), your body should be able to happily process the amount of fructose in a few pieces of fruit.
So, what fruits are best to eat?
As long as it’s not dried or juiced, and you stick to a couple of small pieces per day, then feel free to eat a variety of your favourite fruits. However, the picks we’ve popped below are the best low-fructose options, especially if you’ve just quit sugar and are recalibrating your tastebuds.
- Honeydew melon
- Pear (with skin)
- Coconut (although not coconut sugar)
And here are the ones you shouldn’t gorge on.
Fruit is quite literally nature’s candy. And until very recently we’d only eat the fruit that was locally and seasonally available. Which meant we’d eat a lot of that variety when it was harvested, and then not again for a year. Now that many of us have a huge variety of fruit shipped from overseas, it’s tempting to gorge on mango all year round. Sounds totally scrumptious we agree, but your liver will not thank you!
In particular, these fruits, with their low fibre content and high levels of fructose, are reserved for special occasions in the IQS kitchen (and baked/blended into protein and fat-rich treats when we do indulge).
- Bananas (stick to half a banana per serve)
- Mangos (stick to half a mango per serve)
Juice and dried fruit are not included!
When we say, “the way nature intended”, we mean it. As in, eat the whole fruit. Juices and dried fruit are sugar bombs – nuclear ones at that. Dried fruit sucks all the water out, meaning the sugar is SUPER concentrated. And many varieties are then coated with added sugar to boot. That’s right, fructose on fructose (hide your eyes, liver).
Juice brings a similar problem. Shop-bought juice usually strips out most if not all of the fibrous pulp, leaving you with a mega dose of fructose likely squeezed from more fruit that you’d ever normally eat in one go. And without the fibre to slow the digestion and absorption down, that fructose will hit your liver all at once. Note: a glass of apple juice can actually contain the same amount of sugar as a glass of Coke. Seriously.
Hungry yet? Here’s how WE eat our fruit.
Did we mention we always eat fruit in its whole form?! And we have it as part of a meal, with protein-rich cheese and nuts, or blended up with a tonne of vegetables in a green smoothie. We also try to eat fruit that’s local and in-season – yep, we’re sure that exotic feijoa looks great, but the carbon miles it took to get it here sure don’t!
Can you eat fruit on the 8-Week Program?
This is the part that tends to confuse some people. While we practice what we “peach” and do eat fruit at IQS, when you’re first quitting sugar as part of the 8-Week Program we recommend cutting out all sugar and sweeteners for six weeks.
This allows your taste buds to recalibrate and helps you break the sugar addiction. After these first few weeks are up, we encourage you to reintroduce some low-fructose fruit and see how your body handles it. After all, I Quit Sugar is all about a gentle experiment on your body and mind, not draconian rules that ban you from ever eating a banana again. Life’s too short for that!
Still confused about fruit? Let us know in the comments below.
We originally published this post in April 2016. We updated it in October 2017.