Even fruit has its pitfalls

Eating Well

August 13, 1996|By Colleen Pierre | Colleen Pierre,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Weight controllers often think they can snack on fresh fruit at will, and still peel off the pounds. Not so.

It's time to indulge in the sweetest natural treats now that summer fruit is at its peak. But don't go overboard. Too much of even a very good thing can frustrate your weight control efforts.

A serving of fruit on most weight loss or maintenance plans provides about 60 calories. That's about the same as a slice of bread, half a small bagel, or a Fig Newton. We know we can't eat those endlessly, and it's the same with fresh fruit. Balance and portion control are key here.

It's important to include fruit in your weight management plan, especially when it's fully ripe, fragrant and sensually satisfying. The natural sugars easily satisfy a sweet tooth. And fruit's fiber, vitamins and minerals make it a nutritional powerhouse.

Most weight management plans include two or three servings a day for women, and three to five a day for men. But what is a serving? The short answer is four ounces of juice, one-half cup of chopped fruit, or one piece of fresh fruit. Now comes the hard part. How big is a piece?

Fruit is funny because different fruits have different sweetness levels and different calorie counts. And even the same kind of fruit comes in different sizes.

Take peaches, for example. At Weber's Farm last week, I bought two kinds. The Red Havens are medium, about two inches across and three or four inches deep. That's a serving. The Lorings are twice as big. That's two servings. And have you really looked at bananas lately? They range from petites, the size of your finger, to large enough to equal three servings. A small banana (about four ounces, peeled) is a serving.

Generally, if you stick to one small piece of fruit, you're in the ballpark. But for those of you who like to know exactly, the chart will give you all the details.

On the human side, however, some of us find it hard to stick to severe limits when the fruit is fresh and succulent. Then it's time to trade. If you're eating more than four or five ounces of meat, chicken or fish daily, cut back. And get your fat down to about 40 grams a day for women or 50 grams for men, and make room for fruit.

It makes no sense to pass up the best fruit of the year to accommodate your old, winterized eating plan. So exercise a little more, and cut back on meats and fats. Then you can indulge in a little more fruit.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant at the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

Serving size

Fruit servings should be about 60 calories, 15 grams carbohydrate, 0 protein, 0 fat. Here, then, are summer fruits with how much or how many make up a serving.

Apricots 4 whole

Bananas 1 small

Blackberries 3/4 cup

Blueberries 3/4 cup

Cantaloupe 1 cup of cubes

Fresh cherries 12

Grapes 17 small

Honeydew melon 1 cup cubes

Kiwi 1

Mango 1/2 cup

Nectarine 1 small

Peach 1 medium

Plums 2 small

Italian raspberries 1 cup

Strawberries 1 1/4 cup cubes

Watermelon 1 1/4 cup cubes

Pub Date: 8/13/96

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