The Fruit Dilemma: How to Go Low-Fructose and Stay Healthy
We've been hearing it since we were little kids: Fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest things we can eat and we should get large servings of them daily. We're also probably all acquainted with the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." But here's the problem: Most fruits contain high levels of fructose. As I've written about here before, fructose is high FODMAP and therefore tends to be a (sometimes severe) trigger for IBS.
Before I even knew anything about FODMAPs (which I've only become acquainted with in the past couple of years) or knew that fructose was an IBS trigger, I began to realize that many kinds of fruit were aggravating my IBS symptoms, even as people scolded me that I should eat more fruit.
So how does someone with IBS who wants to stay healthy still get a good daily serving of fruit while also not instigating IBS flares?
Some fruit is low FODMAP
The good news is that there are some fruits that are low FODMAP. The trick is to opt for these fruits instead of the high FODMAP choices. For instances, I've already written about bananas and how they are generally low FODMAP and so are a baseline part of my daily diet (one disclaimer though that I've covered for this site is that bananas are low FODMAP when they are under-ripe or just ripening – so when they are greenish or just turning yellow; however, as they ripen and overripen and get spotted, they become high FODMAP. So it's best to eat them before that happens.) However, bananas aren't the only low-FODMAP fruit available. Many kinds of berries are also low-FODMAP, including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. A great opportunity for integrating such berries into your diet is to add them to your morning oatmeal or cereal. An added bonus is they are chock full of antioxidants!
More low FODMAP fruit options
In addition to berries, citrus fruits are generally low FODMAP – that is, oranges, clementines, lemons, and limes. Yet, I find too much citrus can bother some of the other health issues like GERD and Interstitial Cystitis due to their acidity (yet I find adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to a drink or meal doesn't bother me). Many melons also generally are low FODMAP, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and Galia melon. Grapes are another great low-FODMAP option and make a quick on-the-go snack. You can Google "low FODMAP diet" for a full list of what foods are good and what are bad for IBS.
Finally, I personally find that skinning fruits (such as grapes or the few times I eat apples) helps me better digest them also, in addition to chewing them slowly and mindfully. This allows me to still enjoy many fruits – both the taste and the health benefits of them – while making necessary modifications and exemptions in my diet.
How about you? Which low FODMAP fruits do you enjoy and why? What fruits do you avoid? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?