My husband Marco arrived at our house one day and found me rolling on the floor with intestinal cramps.
“What did you eat?” he asked.
“Nothing that could cause this,” I replied, “I just ate watermelon.”
“How much watermelon did you eat?”
“Only one piece?”
“No, only one watermelon.”
Come to find out, watermelons are high on magnesium, hence the cramps and the constant running to the bathroom.
I am telling you this true story of something that happened to me, because I had never heard anyone warn of the dangers of eating too much watermelon. Have you? Then again, I had also never heard of anyone eating a whole watermelon by themselves.
Hey, we lived in Mississippi back then, and it was about a hundred degrees hot, with a hundred percent humidity, and there was no breeze at all. I felt like I had accidentally stepped into a steam room and could not find the door out. The window air conditioning of our apartment did little to cool anywhere beyond its three feet range! The watermelon was so cold and delicious…
I am not telling this to warn you about eating too much watermelon. I am sure most of you would know to stop long before I did!
I am sharing it with you because there is a lot of nonsense circulating on the internet about foods they are labeling as “superfoods,” so good, they say, you should have them every day, “have as much as you want.”
For example, I recently heard a famous person say that avocados are “so good for you” that he adds them to every single meal!
When I was a little girl, growing up in South America, we were always warned not to eat too much avocado. My great grandfather introduced the small, dark, avocados to our region, and my family was partial to avocados, yet we would never have eaten them every day.
Other people praise the benefits of coconut and share articles on the dozens of different ways you could eat coconuts, to make sure you do not deprive yourself of any of its invaluable nutrients. One such recipe arrived in one of my friends’ inbox and she gave it a try. The coconut flour cookie she handed me had so much fat I felt I could not eat anything else for hours after that. Palm trees did not yield coconuts in the region where I grew up (too cold), but when we went to the Coastal area, where they were abundant, we knew not to abuse coconuts, because you could end with quite the stomach ache.
Take another example: mangoes. Mangoes are so high in vitamins A and C that some have also labeled them as superfoods. “Eat as much as you want!” Only mangoes are also very high in fructose, and fructose is processed by the liver, so if you eat too many mangoes, something I would find easy to do, you could be giving your liver a hard time. As a side note, I come from Ecuador, a country where the endemic mangoes are only in season for two months a year and are “to die for” – people tend to overeat. We were warned to have a glass of water in between mangoes to prevent them from “kicking the liver.”
I see families who buy into “superfoods” eat large amounts of the same foods over and over again, instead of focusing on eating a varied diet. They believe that as long as they include the foods labeled in this category, their nutritional needs are going to be filled.
A Varied Diet
In general terms the more variety of real foods you add to your meals, the more beneficial your nutritional plan.
These are some benefits of the varied diet:
- It maximizes exposure to a wide variety of nutrients.
- It minimizes the exposure to concentrations of the same toxins.
- It adds more flavors to your menu.
- It enriches your experience and your life, as you learn about other cultures.
- It is fun!
However, beware of adding too many foods to a single meal. Preparing meals with lots of ingredients may sound like a quick way to take in lots of different nutrients, but it is harder for your digestive system to handle.
The idea here is to eat different foods on different days. One easy way to do this, is to not always shop in the same place. Choose one healthy grocery store to be your main store, but when available, also visit farmers’ markets and specialty stores, so that even if you are still getting staple foods such as organic broccoli, you get different varieties of broccoli, grown in soils with different nutritional compositions.
Too Much of a Good Thing
The story that started this article happened years ago, and since I have never heard or read anywhere anything about watermelons, other than that they are good for you. Yet watermelon when eaten in excess can be harmful. If you eat too much of it one day you give your intestines a hard time, but by the next day you should be fine. If you repeated this every day, you could harm your intestines and compromise your intestinal flora.
Some elements that are in fact nutrients for the body, when consumed excessively can create toxicity, examples are sodium, potassium and iron.
Remember, just because a food is good for you, it doesn’t mean you can eat as much of it as you want or as often as you want to.