Can you eat too much fruit? It’s not a question I ever thought I’d hear myself ask. Fruit is healthy, it’s natural and it’s good for you. But can you have too much of a good thing? Over the past few weeks, a habit has been forming in our house. The children wake up early and we always want to stay in bed a bit longer. So, they go downstairs and entertain themselves for a while. Playing, watching television or playing the piano. The one thing that is consistent is that they help themselves to fruit from the fruit bowl.
The fruit bowl dilemma
We’ve always felt that the children should be able to help themselves to fruit. They like the independence so it tends to stop them from asking for sweets and crisps. Just before mealtimes they ask before taking some, but in the mornings it’s a free for all.
Our dilemmas started, strangely, with the dogs. We used to keep the fruit bowl on the dining room table and we’d all raid it when we were hungry. There came a point though, when we realised we were getting through a lot more fruit than we used to. Were the children eating too much fruit? Was my husband’s grazing habit getting out of hand?
It wasn’t long before the culprit became apparent. The dogs had seen us all taking fruit from the fruit bowl and decided it was fair game. We soon moved the bowl to on top of the piano where it was out of reach for canine family members, but the rest of us could still eat as much fruit as we wanted.
Increasing fruit consumption
When the girls first started going downstairs in the mornings, they’d help themselves to a piece of fruit each. At the time, Lia wasn’t that keen on apples and Libby couldn’t eat them without us cutting them up because she was waiting to have some teeth taken out. So, they might have a banana each or an orange. If pears were on offer they’d go for one of those, and at a push they’d nibble on an apple.
Then, something changed. Libby had her teeth out and the fruit consumption possibilities opened up a bit more for her. Lia decided she did in fact like apples. A lot. And the mornings turned into some sort of fruit eating marathon. By the time we came down, they would both have eaten several pieces of fruit. That was getting expensive, but it was fine. We were happy that they were making healthy choices, so we let them get on with it.
It all came to a head on Sunday morning when we Libby was eating a Bear YoYo and noticed it said on it that this was one of her five a day. We got talking about what this meant. The fact that you should consume five pieces of fruit and veg a day as part of a healthy diet. Libby did some quick maths in her head. The YoYo was in fact her seventh piece of fruit. It was 11.30am.
That morning before we got up, she’d eaten three apples, two bananas and an orange. Lia had eaten a two apples and two bananas. And we started to worry. Although it’s natural sugar, fruit does contain quite a lot of sugar. Can you eat too much fruit, could our liberal approach to this cause them health issues or rotten teeth?
Can you eat too much fruit? What the experts say
I’ve been doing some research online and the answer to my question as to whether you can eat too much fruit seems somewhat inconclusive. The British Heart Foundation say:
“As around three-quarters of us don’t meet the 5-a-day recommendation, most of us shouldn’t cut back on fruit or veg.”
They don’t mention whether this still applies if you’re six years old and on your seventh piece of fruit by 11am. The BBC are a little more helpful, touching briefly on the sugar issue. They say that fruit sugar is no healthier than the sugar found in junk foods, and state that:
“Typically, a regular-sized full-sugar soft-drink contains about 7-8 teaspoons of sugar. A large apple may contain 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. So two apples can contain as much sugar as a can of soft drink.”
This stopped me in my tracks. It’s great being a parent to children who choose to eat plenty of fruit. But I would never have let Libby drink a can of pop or eat sweets first thing in the morning, so was letting her eat all that fruit even worse?
The NHS have a different take on it though. They analysed a study suggesting that 10 portions of fruit and veg a day was better than five. The study indicated that there was a reduced risk of both cardiovascular disease and mortality from other causes if you ate more fruit and vegetables. They indicated that up to 10 portions across the range of fruit and vegetables could be better than five. There was no indication that this should be mostly vegetables in the avoidance of too much sugar from fruit.
Can you eat too much fruit? Our decision
Unable to find anything conclusive online, we’re using our common sense to come up with an answer. We’ll still let the girls help themselves to fruit, but we’ll limit it to one or two pieces in the mornings. That will be supplemented by snacks during the day, as it always is. This puts my mind at rest that they’re still eating plenty of healthy fruit, but not too much. Because I can’t help thinking that you probably can have too much of a good thing.