This question has been asked by many people many times, including myself. Many people, too, have tried to answer the question of what is the best time to eat fruit. This has led to a myriad of theories and pseudoscience, making it hard to discern myths from the truth. This article collects the arguments to both sides of the coin, and shares our own experience of how my daughter with eczema actually thrives on one side of the coin.
Fruit: the essence of life
Fruit and vegetable give us life. Fruit, in particular, heals us and our ailments. It brings us the essence of Mother Earth in the form of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients which are so essential to our well-being. This also means fruit should be eaten raw, as heat destroys most of the goodness intended for our health, leaving only empty carbs.
We should all make it our utmost priority to consume fruit every single day of our lives. But what is the best way to have fruit? Before meals on an empty stomach? Or after food to bring sweet satisfaction to the meal?
The case for eating fruit after a meal
I had been eating my fruit this way for my entire life until this year, without any problem at all. It is in our culture, and our habit, to have some cut fruit about half an hour after dinner, after washing up the dishes and everyone is sitting around enjoying the TV.
The reported benefits to having fruit after a meal is that the polyphenols in the fruit, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are able to combat the oxidative stress due to the meal just prior to the fruit. Unhealthy meals high in cholesterol, carbohydrates and fats can lead to free radical damage. So we use fruits to help keep the ill effects of unhealthy diet at bay. More information can be found on this website: www.hunimed.eu
It sounds good that we have been doing it right all this while, so why rock the boat?
The case for eating fruit before a meal
My two eczema warriors (son, J, and daughter, M) were seeing a homeopath for their bad eczema. As she practices a holistic approach, she worked with us on all aspects of their lives, from diet and daily routines to social health and emotional needs.
So our homeopath was advising us that fruit should be taken on its own, on an empty stomach, with at least 45 minutes before we take our meals, to allow for proper absorption of the fruit to reap its maximum benefits. If taken with or after a meal, when the body is using much energy to digest and process the chunky load of our meal, it may not be ready to let the fruit do its job of healing us (read here about another holistic nutritionist who said the same thing).
I took her advice to heart, and overhauled the way of eating fruit for the whole family. It felt great to have our fruit at least 45 minutes before meals, knowing that we were getting the most out of the precious fruit this way. But frankly, we did not experience any obvious physical effects from this change, whether for better or for worse. Except for M. She experienced a world of a difference in her digestion.
Constipation issue prior to changing the fruit habit
For 6 months or so, M had been having serious constipation. Despite the high fiber intake in her diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water too, she was having great difficulty with her bowel movement. Every single night, she would scream in pain for an hour on average. She would exert herself so hard that she perspired all over her body. Her eczema would also flare up, giving her an intense itch that couldn’t be satiated with clawing her skin apart.
The record was 2 hours, from 9 to 11p.m. Neighbours were concerned, some came to check in on us, they were probably wondering what torture devices we were using, why else would the kid scream in such pain? It was relentless, and physically and emotionally draining for everyone, as this took place every single night, without fail. The other kids were visibly disturbed by her distress too.
After changing the fruit habit
Miraculously, M’s constipation issue resolved on its own, right after we started to have our fruit before meals. It was so drastic, and the effect was so obvious to us. Nothing else changed in her routine or diet. That was the only attribution there was.
After the experience, now I strongly believe the order of eating fruit does affect a person’s digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Why it shows only on M and not the rest of us, is because her gut health was already compromised to start with, which was one cause of her eczema in the first place. Food not digested properly, plus problematic waste elimination topples her out of balance, and the toxic load purges out through the skin, which is our largest and yet non-vital organ.
As her bowel movement improved, so did her eczema flares go away during those late evenings. Her skin became significantly cleared, though not perfectly healed as there were other underlying issues like topical steroid withdrawal, dust mite allergy, stress-triggered flares, etc.
My answer to: what is the best time to eat fruit
Really, what is the best time to eat fruit? My answer to you is: if you do not have any health issues, then just carry on with whatever you have been doing, whether it’s fruit first then meal, or the other way round. But if you are plagued with poor health, chronic pain and inflammation, eczema, bowel issues, digestion problems like gas, bloating, cramps, etc. such that you are looking for healing on a deep level, then it is worth it to give this a try: fruit on empty stomach, with at least 45 minutes until the next meal.
For the sake of M, my family will continue our newfound habit of having fruit on an empty stomach. The happy side effect that comes along with this is we eat smaller portions at mealtime! Because we feel partially full from digesting the fruit, we don’t gobble our carbohydrates and fats during meals. There is research to show that fruit as a preload provides satiety and reduces calories intake at meals.
So, with my obviously lopsided argument, I hope I have shown you what is the best time to eat fruit. Happy fruiting! And feel free to share any thoughts or your own experiences below in the comments.