By Judy Davie
"I eat a lot of fruit every day as part of my weight-loss program (I eat about five serves/pieces a day). Am I getting too much natural sugar? Will eating lots of fruit help with weight loss?"
I don't know anyone who has got fat from eating fruit and if it's stopping you eating other sweet foods like muffins and biscuits, then it's a good thing.
Five pieces of fruit, however, such as two apples, an orange, a pear and a kiwi fruit, is the equivalent of 1900 KJ and makes up nearly 30 percent of the daily energy allowance on an energy-restricted diet of 6500KJ a day.
It's not a problem provided you ensure you are also getting a balance of other essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, B group vitamins, iron and calcium, but it could be a bit of a juggling act. These nutrients are found in low-fat dairy (for calcium), red meat* (for iron), green, orange and red vegetables (for vitamin A, folate and numerous other vitamins), wholegrain cereals (for B vitamins and insoluble fibre) and good fats (for vitamin E and essential fats).
Here's an example of an excellent day's eating plan where you meet your nutritional requirements**, consume five pieces of fruit and stick within the energy confines of 6500Kj a day.
NB: Always buy small pieces of fruit and eat them during the day rather than late at night.
½ cup low-sugar natural muesli, with skimmed milk, one kiwi fruit and one small pear.
One small sized red apple, one coffee made with skim milk.
Two slices wholegrain bread with two slices avocado, 1/3 cup grated carrot, two thin slices chicken breast, one small tomato, lettuce, one medium sized green apple.
One medium orange with 200g fat-free natural yoghurt.
One grilled fillet steak (140g) served with two small boiled potatoes, one cup steamed broccoli with quarter tablespoon olive oil.
*Good sources of iron also include octopus, mussels and oysters.
**The new RDI calcium for bone strength and to prevent osteoporosis in women is 1000mg, achievable when you include low-fat dairy in your diet. A broad-spectrum multivitamin is a good idea when on an energy-reduced diet as it will help you achieve the RDI nutrients without increasing your energy intake from food.