Can You Eat too Much of a Good Thing?

Can You Eat too Much of a Good Thing?

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The question “Can you eat too much of a good thing” is addressed in a recent article referring to our consumption of fruit and vegetables which are healthy foods that we are constantly being told we should eat as much of as possible.

Can You Eat too Much of a Good Thing?

Loyola University Health System registered dietitian Brooke Schantz, is quoted as saying:

 “While fruits are nutritious, too much of even a healthy food can lead to weight gain. The key is to remember to control the portion sizes of the foods you consume.”

The article reports that Schantz said:

 “Overeating healthy foods is easy to do, but the same rules apply to healthy food as junk food. Weight fluctuates based on a basic concept — energy in versus energy out. If your total caloric intake is higher than the energy you burn off in a day, you will gain weight. If it is lower, you will lose weight.”

“I have had many patients tell me that they don’t know why they are not losing weight. Then they report that they eat fruit all day long. They are almost always shocked when I advise them to watch the quantity of food they eat even if it is healthy.”

The article continues:

 “Non-starchy vegetables are difficult to overeat unless they are accompanied by unnecessary calories from sauces, cheeses and butter. This is due to the high water and fiber content of these vegetables coupled with the stretching capacity of the stomach. The vegetables she suggested limiting are those that are high in starch, such as peas, corn and potatoes. Foods that are labeled as fat-free or low-fat are another area of concern.”

“People tend to give themselves the freedom to overeat ‘healthy’ foods. While the label might say that a food or beverage is low-fat or fat-free, watch the quantity you consume and refrain from eating an excessive amount. Foods that carry these health claims may be high in sugar and calories.”

Whilst in theory these comments may be true it seems difficult to believe that many people are gorging themselves on fruit every day and hence consuming too many calories this way. Most dieticians seem to agree that you can’t eat too much fruit, and that most people don’t eat nearly enough, so it would be a shame to put them off eating more. Most fruit contains mainly complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested and absorbed, and it is only the sugars in some fruits like grapes or berries that might be a threat to weight, although even here, the benefits to health from the vitamin and antioxidant content would probably outweigh any disadvantage. Fruits are not as inherently energy dense as Mars bars and other confectionery so would not be likely to encourage weight gain in themselves. Can you eat too much of a good thing? – Probably not if that good thing is fruit and vegetable.

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