Can you eat too much fruit?

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.

Can you eat too much fruit? Plate full of red berries.

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.

Can you eat too much fruit? A canine fruit thief at the beach.

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? Little girl in red dress smiling

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.

Can you eat too much fruit? | This healthy staple of any diet is full of vitamins and goodness. But fruit is also full of sugar. Do you know how much sugar is in an apple or whether children can damage their teeth by eating too much fruit? Read more for lots of healthy food for thought. #fruit #sugar #diet #healthandfitness #healthyeating
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14 Comments

  1. February 6, 2019 / 7:52 am

    This is a really interesting read as I often debate whether to give T that fourth portion of fruit.

    You’d think that giving them fruit to snack on would be better than biscuits, etc. as they’re packed full of vitamins and water, but you forget about the sugars on their teeth – not to mention what it does to their gut. Without going into detail, you can tell when T has had a whole banana! Haha!

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s reassured me that I’m not alone in debating the amount of fruit I give T. Maybe I’ll have a ship around for alternative snacks.

    • monsterid February 6, 2019 / 12:01 pm

      Thanks Kate, I’m glad it’s not just us worrying about this! I suppose it’s a nice problem to have when they want too much of something healthy!
      Nat.x

  2. February 6, 2019 / 9:52 am

    You could always just make it a rule that they clean their teeth an extra time after eating fruit.

    As far as I’m aware, the only health problem with consuming too much fruit, is that sometimes eating too much fruit in a short space of time, can have a laxative effect. It doesn’t have that effect on everyone though and does depend on which fruit they eat too much of. xx

    • monsterid February 6, 2019 / 12:00 pm

      That’s a good idea, it would make them think about the amount of sugar in it too. It doesn’t really seem to have a laxative effect on the girls thank goodness!
      Nat.x

  3. February 6, 2019 / 11:29 am

    Our fruit bowl is also a free-for-all for similar reasons – I’d rather Sophie snack on fruit than anything else. I was told by a paediatrician friend that the research suggested more than 5 a day was best when it came to fruit and veg but that the target needed to be achievable for people so it became 5-a-day. I think you’re right to be concerned about too much sugar as well though. I think moderation is probably best when it comes to all food choices though – even water can be bad for you if you drink too much of it!

    • monsterid February 6, 2019 / 11:59 am

      Thanks Louise, that’s really given me some perspective on it. I think we’re going to try a bit harder to limit them without discouraging their love of fruit.
      Nat.x

  4. February 6, 2019 / 12:55 pm

    I think moderation is key, although sugar is sugar I truly believe that natural sugar in fruit is much better for you. Some fruits contain a lot more sugar than others so maybe you could look up how much sugar different types of fruit contains and try and buy the ones which contain less sugar if you’re worried? My son also eats a lot of fruit. Xx

    • monsterid February 6, 2019 / 7:21 pm

      That’s a good idea, perhaps we can limit the fruit consumption to predominantly the lower sugar content fruits.
      Nat.x

  5. February 6, 2019 / 6:30 pm

    I would love to have kids that ate that much fruit! Most of the time my kids don’t eat any at all. I would never have considered the sugar in fruit to be a problem. Even if they are consuming as much sugar as in a can of fizzy drink, they are also getting really valuable vitamins and fibre. My only worry with eating too much fruit would be stomach ache or diarrhoea, especially eating it on an otherwise empty stomach.

    • monsterid February 6, 2019 / 7:20 pm

      You’re so right, I can’t deny they’re healthy for having all those vitamins. Thankfully they seem to have relatively strong stomachs because the fruit has never caused an issue in that respect!
      Nat.x

  6. February 13, 2019 / 4:10 pm

    I think it depends on what they’d eat others (or if they are eating for the sake of it). There seems to be sugar in most things and at least in fruit it’s natural sugars. I’m having the same look around about whether I can eat too many vegetables

    • monsterid February 13, 2019 / 8:25 pm

      Ooh I’d be interested to hear whether you decide you can eat too many veggies, I hadn’t even thought of that! They wouldn’t be eating anything instead except maybe one apple instead of six! They’re just snacking for the sake of it.
      Nat.x

  7. February 14, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    Hi Nat, it’s a tricky one, but I’d be inclined to let them carry on as they were as there will probably come a time when they naturally stop eating so much and I’d be worried that by actively discouraging them from eating so much fruit they may go the other way and stop eating it by choice…. As for the sugar intake damaging teeth? Compared to processed sugars in junk food I’m not sure I’d overly worry about fruit consumption as long the girls have a good tooth care routine.

    xx

    • monsterid February 14, 2019 / 1:09 pm

      That’s interesting, I hadn’t thought of it like that. I hope they do naturally stop eating quite so much. If they could naturally stop getting up so flipping early while they’re at it, that would be just perfect!
      Nat.x

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