Working in health and wellness I commonly hear people saying that they’re afraid to eat fruit, it’s got too much sugar in it, it’s too sweet, I find it had to digest, is it going to make me fat?
We need to differentiate between sugar, which is a processed dried chemical product, as a by-product of drying cane sugar and fruit - a natural, wholesome, good-for-you product which happens to taste sweet. Not everything that tastes sweet has sugar in it. And not everything that has a sweet taste is bad or fattening for you.
What happens with fruit is, we confuse the concept of something having a sweet taste, with the fact that it's fattening and bad for us. We need to stop that misconception now, because we're stopping people from eating fruit which is really good for you, and it's incredibly important, vital and necessary, for staying healthy, strong and fit.
So, when you are looking at fruit, there are four basic reasons why fruit's good for you:
- Fruit is rich in water, meaning, when you eat it, you're making the body less dehydrated.
- It's also very very rich in enzymes, so when you eat fruit, particularly before a meal, for example, your body starts already to digest and your digestion wakes up, and you have all these digestive enzymes buzzing around your system. And if that happens, when you then go on and eat other food, your bodies already primed to start breaking that food down.
- Digestion of fruit is extremely fast! For some fruits, it takes less than 10 minutes for your body to digest it.
- And fruit is sweet, as we've said. So, when you eat fruit, you satiate the need that you have for eating something sweet. Its instinctive to enjoy something sweet. Even babies, when you give them something sweet, will smile and be happy. The body reacts pleasurably and the mind reacts happily to eating something sweet. And what we do is we replace unhealthy processed sweet snacks with something that has almost no calories whatsoever. It tastes good, fills you up and makes you feel and look good at the end. What's not to like about that?
Nature hides vitamins and minerals in different colours, and fruit is literally rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. So, if you are going to eat fruit on a regular basis, the way to get the most out of eating that fruit is to eat fruits of different colours all the time…
Fruit comes in so many colours - red, pink, orange, yellow, purple. What you do is you make sure that you eat an orange fruit and then you eat a red fruit, then you eat a purple fruit. And, I mean by this, a whole fruit. I don't mean fruit that you can buy pre-chopped. I don't mean fruit that's already been precut and is served to you. I mean a piece of fruit, like when I'm saying, "Eat a pear." I mean an entire pear. When you're eating a banana, you eat a banana.
Now, fruit gives up most of its value when it's ripe. And I know that nobody really wants to do that. My children like to eat yellow bananas, not speckled bananas, because when they get soft, they feel weird. But actually, you do need to eat fruits only when they are ripe.
Rules of eating fruit:
1.Eat different coloured fruits.
2.Eat whole fruits.
3.Eat only ripe fruits.
There are a few simple rules to follow to understand a fruits ripeness. Generally, you can gauge ripeness by checking the firmness of the fruit; if its smell is rich and sweet; and if its colour is uneven – the more uneven the riper generally.
Here are some examples of common fruit:
- In a banana, it means not a yellow banana, it means a speckled banana. So, if it's got lots of black bits on it - the better! And this is because your body finds it much easier to digest fruit that is ripe and already soft, because it's already being broken down before you eat it.
- With a pear, you need to gently press down on the nose of the pear, where the stalk comes from, if that's soft, that is a ripe pear!
- With a melon, smell it. If you've got the small cantaloupe melon, if the smell smells soft, rich and sweet, that’s a ripe melon, and it's ready for eating.
- For grapes, always get grapes that have seeds in them, because grapes with seeds are the best in terms of health.
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How to Buy Fruit
Generally, its best to buy the best quality food that you can. Fruit is one of those products that when you have them organic and you have them ripe, they have the best quality of health and goodness for you. Fruit that's been artificially ripened ... You can tell very quickly, artificial fruit that's been artificially ripened. It's either got GMO in it or it's just not good for you. Because what happens with fruit is, it is bought unripe and picked unripe, and shipped over to countries like the United Kingdom, like to the USA, and they're artificially ripened in sun houses or in warehouses in the country before it's put out for you to buy. Because if you put ripe fruit out in a supermarket, what is going to happen is that it's going to go bad very quickly, and the supermarket's going lose money.
So, the fruit that you buy that is sort of sitting there looking beautiful and perfect is actually not as good for you as the fruit that is different shaped and is organic. And organic fruit will go bad quickly. It will go bad within two to three days, so you want to be very careful when you're buying it, and how you're managing fruit.
"I'm a huge fan of frozen fruit"
Says Geeta Sidhu-Robb - Global Health Activist
Buying frozen fruit is a really good option – particularly if you can’t afford organic. And it's much better for you than pre-cut fruit. Why? Well, because fruit that is frozen is bought in the country it is being grown in. It's ripened there, cut up there, it's frozen there, and it is shipped frozen. So, it has the highest quantity of nutrients in it than fruit that you will buy that has been sitting on a supermarket store shelf for a few days. So, I'm a huge fan of pre-frozen fruit. We use it here in Nosh, so please feel free to buy that, perfect if you can't always manage ripe fruit.
How to Store Fruit
This is how I have worked out the best way of managing fruit in my house.
We always have three bowls of fruit available. Bowl one, is our newly bought and unripe fruit. Bowl two is fruit that is on its way to getting ripe. Bowl three is fruit that you need to eat now, within the next two to three days, because it's ripe and it will go bad. So, get into the habit of checking your fruit before you go to bed every couple of nights and moving them around.
Helpful Tip #1 - In the middle bowl I put bananas, because the gas the bananas give off helps to ripen fruit more quickly. Should you find yourself running out of ripe fruit, put bananas in the middle bowl and you will be able to move them into your ripe bowl within a couple of days.
Helpful Tip #2 - I buy bananas in bulk because they take a while to ripen and I have many bunches in different stages of ripeness. So when I have a lot of really ripe bananas that are going to go bad, I peel them, leave them whole, and put them in a bag. Then I keep them in my freezer and they're sitting there waiting for me when I want to make smoothies.
You can do this with almost any fruit. Some of the fruits, like pears, do tend to go brown if you're not careful, so you want to freeze them immediately, and then they're perfectly ready for you to be able to use in smoothies. You don't even have to buy frozen fruits if you don't want to, but you can.
If you've not eaten any fruit or just eat it occasionally and move to thinking, "Oh, my God! I have to eat all this fruit in a day!" It's just going to become too much for you and you're not going manage it. And as we all know, if you fail once you can just think ‘what the heck’ and stop immediately.
As a first step, I recommend that you make all changes to your routines and your diet slowly and take it one step at a time. So literally you make one change and call that step one, for week one and repeat that step all week. Then step two is where you add on another change and repeat that step and step one for the whole of week two. Step three you implement in week three, so that you are setting yourself up to succeed gently but surely.
This principle is called crowding out and I learnt whilst getting my Health Coach Certification at Institute of Integrative Nutrition. This principle is based on the fact that we all hate, hate, hate giving up anything (I don’t know about you but the minute I give something up I crave it!). So, instead we crowd it out…you add one good thing, then the next, then the third. By the end of sometime (who’s counting?) you are 80% of the way to a fabulously healthy diet!
When Should I eat Fruit?
So, the ideal goal for where we're trying to get to is to have a piece of fruit before every main meal of the day. So, that would mean a piece of fruit before breakfast, a piece of fruit before lunch, and a piece of fruit before dinner.
Now I know it's traditional to eat fruit after a meal, but there are several reasons why you should just never do this. Step one is that fruit is actually the easiest to digest of all the foods, because it has nothing processed, nothing chemical. It's literally glucose fibre and a bunch of enzymes and water. And so your body breaks it down within minutes. Now when you eat fruit after a meal, it takes a really long ... The body kind of is fighting to break it down and get the vitamins and the nutrients out of it. And when we say you break something down, what we're saying is that the digestion is breaking the individual food down into its individual components so you can take all of the goodness of it into your body, like the vitamin C goes in and the enzymes go in and the fibre goes in. When it's mixing with your lamb or your potatoes, your whatever, this is not getting the opportunity to be absorbed well by your body.
So the time to eat fruit is actually before your meal, not after. My suggestion is that is, eat a piece of fruit before every meal of the day. So in breakfast, it's fairly easy. Before you have your cup of tea or your coffee and before you're going to do anything, you pick up your apple or your pear or whatever happens to be ripe that day, and you eat it. And then when you are at that stage, just before you want to go for lunch or 11:00, 11:30 when you're getting hungry and you're like, "I really need something," instead of going for your coffee and biscuit or your tea and biscuit, this is the time to eat your second piece of fruit. Your third piece of fruit can happen at any stage between your mid-afternoon snack right the way up to dinner.
So you can start eating your fruit from 3:00 in the afternoon onwards, because what you've got is you've been to digest your lunch. This is the time at which your concentration is going to lapse and having something like your banana, like your mandarin, like anything, or your orange is going to absolutely wake your body up, give you some fibre. The thing about when people saying sugar gives you a spike, yes it does. Fruit is not sugar. What fruit is a mixture of fibre and glucose. Your body manages to break it down very quickly but absorb the goodness of the fruit over a period of time, so it gives you a slow breakdown of sugar as opposed to an instant spike. You can eat your orange in mid-afternoon, and it will keep you going right the way until dinner.
One of the other benefits of eating fruit before every meal is that when you start to eat, you're actually not starving. So, you're unlikely to binge. You're unlikely to eat, you know...when you should eat a product that's naturally sweet, it's much harder to eat a process wheat product after that. We do in Nosh do juice fasts where we blend food and sugars and ... We do a Nosh juice fast where we blend fruits and super foods. After you've done a juice fast people are like, "There's so much sugar in it. I don't know how I'm going to manage." They will do an entire juice fast, and at the end of it I say, "Go and try and eat a donut." And it's hard for them to eat a donut, because their body has learned to accept a natural sugar to eating a processed sugar feels terrible and chemicalized. And it's a really, good way to give up eating, bingeing on unprocessed sugars.
It stops you eating too much. After you've eaten the fruit, it rehydrates you so you're not eating when you're thirsty instead of because you're hungry, which we do a lot. What it does is it sort of pre-kicks your digestion in so that by the time you're eating, your body is already functioning and digesting. So less of your food goes to waste and more of it is absorbed as nutrients.
The way to succeed at doing this, and it is successful. We have had people do this again and again and again. Thousands of people I've led through changing the way that they eat fruit, and every single one of them has lost weight. Every single one. Now if you're doing this to lose weight, this is a fantastic way to start. Because what it does is it literally cuts down on the rest of your food that you're eating. And I hate giving stuff up, so instead of giving up food and not eating stuff and going on a diet, we use a principal called crowding out. And what that means is, you eat something good so that there is less space left for the bad thing. The bad thing gets crowded out.
Now all this information is helpful, proven techniques for helping you to cut cravings, for you to lose weight and for you to feel healthier and stronger. But none of it is ever going to work unless you plan. The place where all of this starts is, one, in your shopping list, where you need to put the different kinds of fruit of different colours on your shopping list, so that they get delivered. Organic healthy fruits, and try and be seasonal. Because when you act with seasonal fruit, your body reacts much better to the weather that you're having and your less likely to get ill, because you are adapting better. And two-
Plan what you will do with your food when you leave your home, because if you don't have food available to you during the day you're not going to eat it. It's very simple. So, you can either have a bowl of food at work, which you are regularly keeping filled and so when you're reaching for something, you reach for the fruit. Because so much of this is based ... Studies have shown that so much of changing patterns, changing habits is based on the convenience and the rituals surrounding them. If it is right in front of you, you are going to do it. If it isn't, you're not going to do it.
Your shopping list!
Making it available by putting bowls of fruit sitting in front of you.
If you're somebody that spends a lot of time travelling in a car or in a backpack or going to places, put some in your bag
Share the love of fruit!
Now, we want it, when you get ready to eat, we want it to look and feel like that too. So, if you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. The ritual you start with is the shopping list. The next ritual is availability. The third ritual is organisation. Setting it into your day. And then, the fourth becomes the ritual of success. You will succeed because you've set yourself up to succeed.
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