Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13, celiac disease a year later, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Ginger provides great insights into life with multiple chronic illnesses, including how to make the most of your life despite your health setbacks.

People with diabetes are often taught early in their diagnosis to fear and avoid fruit.

This is because, well, fruit is turned into glucose in the bloodstream. But so is oatmeal and whole-grain bread and your mother's homemade bran muffins. Why are whole grains encouraged while fruits are discouraged?

Listen, you can enjoy fruit even with diabetes! But let's clear up a few things first:

Fruit is absolutely digested and converted into glucose in the bloodstream, and so, like all other carbohydrates, you should be very aware of how much fruit you are eating. Eating seven apples a day? Yeah, that's too many in the same way that seven bowls of whole-grain porridge is too many—because no matter the source of the carbohydrates, it can your raise blood sugar.

But a serving or two of fruit each day is not only okay, it's a clean source of a whole food that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In fact, take a look at the ingredients on your "whole-grain" bread and observe the number of chemicals and preservatives packed into it…then take a look at the "list of ingredients" of that wholesome piece of fruit that came straight from the earth into your kitchen. Get it?

A choice of fruit on its own is not much of a snack. The primary source of calories in fruit comes from fructose, which is an easy and quickly digested source of carbohydrates. This means that it doesn't necessarily provide long-lasting fuel, which is why fruit in a snack or meal should always be paired with some sort of protein and/or fat.

Examples:

  • apple with string cheese
  • banana with almond butter
  • blackberries and a handful of pecans

If you've ever eaten an apple toward the end of your workday without eating anything else with it and wondered why you're so starving by dinner, it's probably because you basically just ate 60 calories of fructose without any fat or protein to compensate the quickly digested fruit.

You can and should enjoy fruit on a daily basis, but take a look at the balance of your whole day. Instead of stressing over how many calories you're eating, examine how much of your diet is coming from whole foods that you prepared yourself rather than pre-packed products that are loaded with chemicals and preservatives.

Read the labels. Enjoy your fruit!

For more information on this topic:
The 10 Best Fruits for Diabetics
Choose the Right Fruits to Boost Your Diet
Diabetic Diet: 5 Reasons Fruit Is A Healthy Choice