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How to Enjoy Sweet Fruit Without Blood Sugar Spikes

I'm often asked, "Is fruit okay to eat when you have diabetes?"

Can you enjoy the natural sweetness of fruit when you are mindfully watching carbohydrates?

This confusion is an example of the disconnect between what living with diabetes means and what you can and can't eat. Once you better understand food and how it will impact glucose, you have the freedom to enjoy all foods, without following rules.

The natural sugars in fruit contain fiber and are similar to all complex carbohydrates that you can eat while managing your blood sugar goals. Fruits contain a natural sugar called fructose, and when you eat fructose, the liver quickly breaks it down, which then leads to a rise in blood sugar levels. The good news is fruits also contain fiber, which can help slow down the digestion of sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes. Because the fructose in fruit is accompanied by fiber, it won’t cause as much of a blood sugar spike as eating foods with added sugars, like candy. Plus, fiber has many health benefits, including reducing fasting glucose and hemoglobin a1c in people with diabetes.

Fruits with an edible peel — like apples, pears, cherries, and berries — have the most fiber. Fruit juices, on the other hand, have no fiber and can cause glucose to rise quickly. This is often why fruit juice is used to treat low blood sugar.

To further help the body's response when eating fruit, it should be eaten along with the other macro-nutrients, protein and fat, to help keep blood sugar even more steady and avoid a spike.

A white bowl of yogurt topped with fresh fruit and mint.

The Choice is Yours...

THE KEY WORD here is CHOOSE. When you choose to eat fruit, base your choice on these factors:

  • Current blood sugar

  • How active you are before and after

  • Dose insulin/oral medicine if needed

  • BALANCE fruit with any other carbohydrate food(s) you may eat along with any fruit

  • Portion size matters

Gather the carbohydrate facts of your favorite fruits along with portion size. This will help you decide how to factor fruit into meals and snacks, without compromising blood sugar.

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a useful tool for choosing which fruits to eat if you have diabetes. The GI ranks food based on how quickly it impacts blood sugar levels. Fruits with a higher GI may cause your blood sugar to rise quickly compared to lower-GI fruits.

The ranking system looks like this:

  • Low GI: 1-55

  • Medium to High GI: 56 and up

10 Lower Glycemic Fruits to Choose (less sugar)

  1. Blueberries - 1 cup (53)

  2. Strawberries - 1 cup (40)

  3. Apples - 1 cup (36)

  4. Papaya - 1 cup diced (38)

  5. Cherries - 1 cup pitted (22)

  6. Avocado - 1/2 (Yep, it's a fruit) (40)

  7. Blackberries - 1 cup (49)

  8. Raspberries - 1 cup (40)

  9. Guavas - 1 cup (29)

  10. Pears - 1 cup sliced (33)

10 Higher Glycemic Fruits to Limit or Avoid (more sugar)

  1. Mangoes (60)

  2. Grapes approx. 15 (54)

  3. Watermelon (76)

  4. Kiwi - 1 cup (58)

  5. Banana ripe (62)

  6. Pineapple (66)

  7. Raisins 1 small box (66)

  8. Cantaloupe - 1 cup diced (70)

  9. Figs - 1 fig (54)

  10. Peaches - 1 cup (76)

Fruit is a complex carbohydrate containing fiber, so by simply adding a lean protein and/or healthy fat when eating a serving of fruit helps prevent a blood sugar spike.

How to Eat Fruit Alongside Protein and Fat to Keep Blood Sugar More Stable:

  • An apple or 1/2 banana with 1 Tbsp. of nut butter

  • Orange with 1/4 raw mixed nuts

  • Add some berries to Greek Yogurt

  • Top a green salad with melon, avocado, and chopped walnuts

So, when managing diabetes, it's all about knowing what foods will serve your body, energy, and blood sugar the best! The first step is understanding how real whole foods like fruit can be enjoyed. This allows you to make informed food choices and reach your blood sugar goals.

You can do this without feeling deprived and with the freedom to decide when you'll include fruit in your meal plan.

Interested in a safe and empowering environment that will support you in reaching your health goals? Learn more about our Group Coaching, here!

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