Q: My question is whether or not whole fruit is ok? It seems like it should be, since it’s fruit, but I know that fruit contains a lot of sugar too, and I didnt want to sabotage myself.

To me, this is a toss up – not between whether or not to eat fruit, but whether or not to temper one’s intake of it. I think it depends on the person.

I also think it’s complicated. To deny your body of nourishment for an external effect (weight loss) feels wrong to me but we’re also intimately familiar with sugar addiction, here, and that’s inherently internal. It’s not so simple.

To recap, let’s talk about sugar within the context of how we find it in our food. It comes in two ways – in our processed foods, or in our naturally-grown foods:

To be honest, I don’t know whether there’s much purpose to a “reasons to forgo food with added sugar” rant, simply because it breaks down to an understanding of “natural sugar” against “processed sugar.”

Okay, here goes.

In nature, the primary place you find sugar is in fruit (there’s also honey, but we’ll save that for another day.) The sugar in fruit is… fructose.

Sidebar: This, I presume, is why people always ask if they should “stop eating fruit,” mixing the anti-high fructose corn syrup message up with the understanding that fructose is a “natural sugar found in fruit.” There’s a big difference between the two.

Whenever you find fruit in nature, it is paired with two things: nutrients and fiber. Emphasis on the fiber. The fiber within the fruit blunts the impact of the sugar on your system and helps cleanse your insides out at the same time.

The difference between table sugar and the cane from which the sugar comes? There’s no possible way I’m getting as much sugar from chewing through (and swallowing) all that fiber as if I were simply swallowing a tablespoon of sugar. Why? Because with everything else in the sugar cane, I’ll fill up much quicker. There’s no possible way a tablespoon of sugar carries the nutrients that a stalk of sugar cane. Why? Because everything was filtered OUT Of the sugar cane to make the table sugar.. including the nutrients. Lastly, the fiber outright ensures that I’m not going to wreck havoc on my system. A tablespoon of table sugar cannot do that… and it comes from sugar cane.

The sweet part is separated from the part of the food that’s supposed to protect you from the element that, by itself, is harmful to your system. So no – most teas, coffees and juices with sugar added to them have the same effect. Baked goods made with “refined” flours (which go through a similar process, resulting in a flour devoid of fiber) have the same effect. Because of that fiber, it protects not only my insides, but my teeth as well. Something that, again, you won’t find in your average sugary item.

That’s the problem with sugar. In most cases – the way it’s used often results in there being very little to blunt the impact of the sugar on your system, thus resulting in it having the same effect as an overabundance of high fructose corn syrup in your daily diet. I won’t even get on the affects that an abundance of high fructose corn syrup, an abundance of sugar and a lack of fiber can have on our appearance. The difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup is simply that high fructose corn syrup is in almost every processed food item, and almost every processed food item is devoid of fiber.

Why is it devoid of fiber? Simple. Fiber expires quickly, and food manufacturers need their products to be able to sit on shelves for an extended period of time.

Excerpted from Q&A Wednesday: High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Table Sugar | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

Now that we understand the difference between sugar in natural sources and processed resources… we can talk about the mechanics of this within the context of sugar addiction.

For me, I ate my fair share of fruits in the beginning. I was big on the cucumbers, pineapples, tomatoes and bananas. Things that, while they may have a bit of sweet to them, have more than enough fiber. For me, the fiber and the fullness of the food prevented me from being able to gorge on anything just because it had that “sweet” that I desired. The food was able to serve its purpose: the light sugar in the food allowed my mood to lift, the nutrients that were present allowed my body to feel nourished and the fiber allowed me to fill up. I mean, think about it – have you ever sat and ate a whole sweet potato in one sitting? Talk about struggle.

With fiber, it prevents us from reaching the “bliss point,” the “point of no return” where we’re no longer eating for nourishment and merely eating for emotional satisfaction. You don’t have to use herculean strength to stop yourself. The fullness of the food should stop you.  No matter how much you try to overindulge, the fact that you can actually become very full from eating them is more than enough to temper your intake. It’s that simple.

I DO have to admit that the thought of giving up fruits completely doesn’t sound particularly wise to me. There’s so much that your body needs and acquires from a varied and diverse diet.. especially in this wintery weather… I don’t know that I’d ever abstain from fruits entirely. If anything, trying to temper your intake is what’s important. You can’t abstain from fruits forever. You will have to learn how to live with them.

As far as what is considered “tempered use” for you? We’re all different and since there’s no humongous rush to find the answer… take your time. Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you’re acting after you eat certain amounts of fruit. Learn what works best for you. This is perfectly acceptable. It may take you days, weeks or a month or two. You deserve the time it takes to find the right answers.

In my mind, it’s a personal decision… and any decision that one makes is not permanent. If you think it’s best to wean yourself down from sugar slowly by making regular use of fruits in each meal (bananas in your oatmeal, orange slices in your lunch salad, mango slices in your fajitas at night), do that. If you think it’s best to work your way up to regular use, then by all means go for it. Remember that if something doesn’t feel like it’s working for you, it doesn’t mean you’re “failing” and that you “need to just give up and go back to the way you used to eat.” It simply means that this particular plan of action isn’t for you, and that you’ve got to find a new way.

The biggest thing to do, here, is to find a way that allows you to eat healthily, happily and without guilt. Once you’ve discovered that, you’re good to go!

Anyone else have any advice on tempering fruit intake or learning how to live with fruit being their only source of “sweet?” Let’s hear it!