Too much of a good thing
Updated: March 15, 2013 6:04AM
Is there such a thing as eating too many fruits and vegetables?
The answer is yes. It is possible to overeat healthy foods. Too much of even a healthy food can lead to weight gain. The key is to remember to control the portion sizes of the foods you consume.
Overeating unhealthy foods is easy to do, but the same rules apply to healthy food. Weight fluctuates based on a basic concept — energy in versus energy out. If your total caloric intake is higher than the energy you burn off in a day, you will gain weight. If it is lower, you will lose weight.
People tend to give themselves the freedom to overeat healthy foods. I have had many patients tell me they don’t know why they are not losing weight. Then, they report they eat fruit all day long. They are almost always shocked when I advise them to watch the portion sizes of food they eat even if it is healthy.
I talk a great deal with my clients about what makes a healthy, balanced meal. Watching portion sizes of whole grains and lean protein also is important to maintain a balanced diet. For example, eating one small bowl (8 ounces) of oatmeal for breakfast is a healthy choice, but consuming two bowls is overindulging. A palm-sized portion of lean meat is plenty. Eating more than a palm full is unnecessary.
Another area of concern is labels. While a label might say that a food or beverage is low-fat or fat-free, watch the quantity you consume and refrain from eating an excessive amount. Foods that carry these health claims may be high in sugar and calories.
There is one exception to the rule. Non-starchy vegetables are difficult to overeat unless they are accompanied by unnecessary calories from sauces, cheeses and butter. Green leafy vegetables, in particular, are missing most in American diets.
These types of vegetables are difficult to overeat due to the high water and fiber content of vegetables coupled with the stretching capacity of the stomach. The vegetables I recommend limiting are those that are high in starch, such as peas, corn and potatoes.
Many of us are used to hearing that we must eat fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. However, we tend to opt for more fruit over veggies, which won’t help our waistlines. The recommended USDA intake of fruit is 2-4 servings per day. However, a serving is only one-cup of chopped fruit. I recommend you fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner.
The bottom line is the amount of food you eat is just as important as what you eat.~.
Brooke Schantz is a registered dietitian at Loyola Outpatient Center in Maywood.