How much fruit is acceptable for a diabetic?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My aunt is overweight and diabetic. She claims she can eat fruits and vegetables all she wants according to a new diet that sounds like it promotes veganism and a lot of raw food consumption (I think it's called Eat to Live), but after watching her eat such a large amount of fruits as her breakfast I am thinking that fruit still has lots of sugar in it. Am I right? She says the diet has helped people get off of insulin and lose weight, but I am afraid she is going to make herself sicker.


Expert Answers

Theresa Garnero is clinical nurse manager of Diabetes Services at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Fruit is a healthy source of carbohydrate, something that we need to survive. Too many carbs, even in the form of fruit, may make the blood sugar (blood glucose) rise to unhealthy levels for a person with diabetes. And without a source of protein in a meal, in this case breakfast, someone taking insulin may experience low blood glucose a few hours later.

I am not personally familiar with the text described. Any resource that helps inspire a focus on health and lose excess weight is wonderful as long as it is safe and does not require drastic change (which is rarely sustainable). It is important to involve her health care provider who can look make sure your aunt's new diet isn't putting her in harms way. A registered dietitian who is a certified diabetes educator would be key. What is her glucose level before and two hours after she enjoys her morning fruit platter and what is her A1C (estimated glucose average)? Is the rest of her diet balanced? That will help to provide information about her new dietary approach.

Vegans and vegetarians typically have better glucose and weight control, but not always. And some people need insulin for a lifetime. For those with type 2, a small percentage are able to gradually require less and eventually go off insulin, but typically they are ones who exercise daily, eat right and lose the extra pounds.

Why not share your concerns with your aunt and ask her if she has discussed this with her diabetes care team (primary doctor, endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator)?