Are we tired of avoiding fruit yet?

Hi guys,

what I am about to post might be a little controversial. I get it, I myself jumped on the “all sugar is sugar” bandwagon and went through a long period of avoiding all things sweet, including fruit. In fact, if you look back at some of my recipes, you will see I used to make a lot of fruit-free smoothies, replacing it with avocado or soaked nuts and stevia/xylitol.

Whilst I think limiting fruit has a place, like in issues with Candida overgrowth, my transition to a 100% plant-based diet has seen a revival in my love affair for fruit. It has brought to my attention the very warped way in which I once viewed whole foods, like fruit, and the way I believe so many of us still do.

You see, we live in a world where packaged food with nutrition panels, ingredients we can’t pronounce, flavour numbers we don’t understand, and buzz words that deceive, are viewed as “good”, yet we are afraid of the plant foods that grow from the earth and have been eaten by humans for centuries. Hmmmmm...

It goes back to the simple concept, if you can recognise it, your body probably does too!

Fruit is natures beautifully alkaline, perfectly packaged, fibre-rich supplement.

When we consume fruit we get vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate and calcium. We also get the benefit of antioxidants such as organic phenols, which have been shown to decrease oxidation helping to prevent chronic disease and promoting healthy aging. The fibre acts as a buffer to the natural sugar being consumed, ensuring it is slow releasing and preventing those dreaded highs and lows of refined sugars. Not only that, but ripe fruits are the most alkaline of all foods. We want our body to stay alkaline to prevent chronic disease and toxicity and make us feel and look our most vibrant (animal-based foods are acid-forming, which causes the body to leech specific nutrients that balance this acidic effect, like calcium). And last but not least, fruit contains water making it extremely hydrating, which never goes astray when so many of us struggle to meet our daily quota of 2L water.

With all these incredible health benefits, we have somehow managed to demonize fruit and glorify artificial, man-made formulas.

So how did we get here?

Big bad fructose: Any ill effect of fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is strictly limited to that of industrial fructose such as high-fructose corn-syrup, and not fruit. In fact, this study proves that a diet that restricts fructose from added sugars but includes fruit, is more beneficial for weight-loss than a diet that limits both fruit and added sugars! It is definitely a combination of the above health benefits that ensures fruit doesn’t have the same effect on our blood sugar as refined sugars. Indeed, restricting fruit intake has even been shown to be ineffective in type 2 diabetes patients.

Here is something else I have come to understand – when you cut a food out completely you usually need to fill it’s void with something else. What I found myself doing was replacing a lot of my fruit with nuts, seeds and oils, essentially replacing healthy carbohydrates with good fats. I didn’t feel good on a high-fat diet, and even though I still promote good fats as part of a balanced diet, I think we are all too concerned with eating fat and not concerned enough about eating fibre and nutrient-dense plant foods.

We are in fact designed to eat carbohydrates as a large portion of our diet – particularly land and ocean fruits and vegetables, even whole grains. Yet so many of us are crowding out carbohydrates with protein and fat. We actually have 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. As you can see, sweet is indeed one of them, meaning we need not feel guilty for wanting something sweet! And fruit is the perfect answer.

The more I eat real, whole foods, the more I can eat fresh fruit and even a little dried fruit, with no guilt, no bloating and no weight gain. It actually makes me feel so, so good and alive! This is where another age old comes into play – listen to your body. We are unique individuals.

Experiment, eat consciously, tune into yourself.

Don’t fear a whole food group, especially one as vast, nutritious and natural as fruit. We are fruit eaters – look at the banana-loving chimpanzee, our closest relative!

I just want you to think about how you view food, and begin to see the irony of fearing foods that are whole, pure and come from nature.

Surely, that doesn’t seem right?

Love, health & wholefoods, always

Sami xx

Part 2 My Health Story: High-Fat, High Protein, “Carbophobia”

Eventually social pressure and convenience got the better of me, and in my early twenties, I moved from a vegetarian to a pescatarian diet. There were little vegetarian options through my overseas travels, and I didn’t want to be a difficult travel companion. This was also motivated by the high-protein, low-carb “Atkins” approach that was popular then. Soon, I was dabbling with chicken, hearing that eating animal protein was the best, most effective way to eat and stay lean.

When I went off the OCP I lost my period. My doctor put me on a Ketogenics diet, to help me get a natural cycle. I was eating very high-fat and high-protein. I still didn’t naturally gravitate toward eating a lot of protein, but I tried my best, and I was told to strictly avoid all but one carbohydrate a day. One carbohydrate a day! If I wanted a carrot, that was to be considered my carb. Can you imagine? It made me extremely “carbophobic”, and if you ask me, was just as, if not more, restrictive as some of my disordered eating of the past.

This way of eating also made me demonize fruit in such a way that I easily went months without eating a single piece! But as is the problem with restrictive eating and fearing a whole food group, I replaced fruit and other carbohydrates with something else, fat. Whilst I do believe that good fats are extremely beneficial, I was eating it in high quantities, and it wasn’t doing me any favours. I felt sluggish, my skin seemed dull, my hair and nails brittle and I felt there was always something wrong that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I was extremely stressed from having to work out precisely when I would have my one carb for the day and social scenarios became a source of anxiety for me. This way of eating was not only limiting and extremely inconvenient, it actually didn’t help me in any way.

After 6 months of this diet, I had had enough. I was going overseas where there would be lots of tropical fruit, and I decided to just eat intuitively for the first time in a very long while. I travelled, relaxed around food, reintroduced more carbohydrates such as delicious fruit, went back to eating only a little fish (pescatarian) and was able to reduce my stress – being away has that advantage! Within 5 weeks of this, I got my period for the first time in just over 1 year. It would be unfair for me to attribute this 100% to my “letting go”, however, it wouldn’t be entirely wrong to draw some correlation between the two. I definitely felt better – during that entire trip I could feel my body healing. It was a powerful indicator that I needed to listen to my body and reassess my food choices.

The next 6 months became a gradual progression toward going 100% plant-based. I totally eliminated dairy, as I came to understand that it isn’t necessary or healthful, particularly with hormonal imbalances. At this point, eggs and the occasional piece of fish were the last parts of my carnivourous diet that I had to relinquish.

Birthday Linner! Light & fresh @earthtotablebondi ... Because I'll definitely be having a birthday dinner My favourite: the rainbow seaweed slaw (kelp noodles, seaweed, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, broccoli ginger soy dressing) with added avocado And an icey matcha latte almond milk frappe Happy to be spending the arvo with my mumma