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Eating Mainly Fruits and Vegetables – Unbalanced?

By June 29, 2012

I have a question regarding eating healthy. Most of my diet is composed of fruits and vegetables, but I do include some whole grains, dairy, fats from nuts, fish and legumes, and sometimes meats. I also include treats. I know that a balanced diet is the key to health, but is it possible to consume too many fruits and vegetables? I crave strawberries and baby carrots and if I don’t get at least one apple a day I feel deprived. At the moment I sometimes binge and am trying to work on that problem, but when I do binge usually it’s on fruit! Am I weird or what? I would greatly appreciate any response. – z

Dear Z:

It sounds like you are trying to eat in a healthy way. From the way I interpret your letter, you don’t feel deprived because you also include some treat foods. Two things concern me, however. Even though you list a nice variety of foods that you say you eat, if “most of your diet is composed of fruits and vegetables,” you may not be getting enough of the other food groups to provide all of the essential nutrients. Secondly, you need to explore possible causes for your bingeing.

We know that fruits and vegetables are packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants which promote good health. From the perspective of fueling your body, however, they don’t have much “holdover power.” If you aren’t including enough lean protein sources and even some fat at each meal, you’re going to find yourself very hungry again in just a couple of hours, which could be contributing to your bingeing. So make sure your meals are well-balanced and include selections from all the food groups. In general, if half of your plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, that’s an adequate amount.

You also need to look into possible nonphysical reasons for your bingeing. No matter what the foods are, if you find yourself eating large amounts in an uncontrolled manner, that’s a red flag. Do you find that you tend to binge when you are upset or stressed? A therapist who specializes in eating disorders could help you explore any beliefs and feelings that could be driving your binges.

There is nothing wrong with craving fruits and vegetables, so long as you are satisfied with reasonable amounts. You are not weird, and it’s great that you enjoy apples. But if the cravings are causing you to be preoccupied with foods and this is draining a lot of energy from your life, then this is another sign that you should be evaluated by a therapist.

Eating well is more than just healthy food choices. You want to be sure that you are not using food to try to meet other needs—emotional and spiritual. If you are bingeing “sometimes” at this point, it would be great to intervene now, to prevent more serious problems.

My best to you,