On weekends, we are usually invited to my husband’s parents house for lunch. Kids are all excited to have Nonna’s Italian feast and we all enjoy…well, for the most part. They are typical Italian grandparents who have to make sure that we all eat very well and become very stuffed. Then they offer fruits after the big meal and sweets after the fruit.
I work at a retail store and when I have lunch with some of my co-workers, I notice a common eating habit. People tend to eat fruits after a meal as dessert! One person eats an apple every day and she can’t end lunch without it. The other eats a banana, someone else eats a nectarine right after lunch regularly.
From the optimal digestive standpoint, eating fruits right after meals is best avoided. Fruits are preferred to be eaten alone on an empty stomach, because they are more easily digested than other foods. Ideally, fruits should be eaten at least 30 minutes before eating other foods, and not to be eaten for 3 hours after other meals. That being said, fruits make good morning starters and snacks between meals.
You can eat more than one fruit at a time, but just do not mix with other food. For example, fructose is a sugar that is found in most fruits. It is absorbed directly into the blood and passes through the stomach quickly. It can also be changed to glucose (the metabolized form of sugar in the body) in the liver and be digested in the small intestine. Whereas proteins and fats remain in the stomach for several hours. So, what is going to happen when you eat fruits right after a meal? Sugars mixed with protein and fats in the stomach causes fermentation to occur. That causes abdominal discomfort such as gas and bloating.
This is an example of ideal way to consume fruits throughout a day (along with drinking water);
Morning: drink a glass of water upon waking, 20 to 30 minutes later have some fresh fruits, and then 30 to 40 minutes later have some breakfast.
Snack: eat fruits alone.
Lunch: drink a glass of water, 20 to 30 minutes later have some fruits (If you are having any), and then 30-40 minutes later have some lunch.
Snack: eat fruits alone.
Dinner: drink a glass of water, 20 to 30 minutes later have some fruits (If you are having any), and then 30-40 minutes later have some dinner.
The benefits of eating fruits 30 minutes before meals are;
- Fresh fruits contain plenty of beneficial enzymes which can be absorbed fully.
- Eating fruits on an empty stomach can stimulate the digestive system.
- Natural sugars in fruits can increase blood sugar that can prevent one from over eating.
- All the nutrients in fruits can be absorbed into body without been hindered by other foods.
Fruits should be treated as an appetizer rather than dessert. You can eat as many fresh fruits as you like throughout a day. Organically grown preferred, of course. Once you start eating this way, I am sure that you will notice other people eating fruits after meals. You can maximise the benefit of eating fruits by simply just changing the order. It requires only a bit of awareness.
Eat fruits first for optimal digestive health!
All is well and all the best!