For most people, fresh fruit is a tasty, guilt-free treat. For those with fructose intolerance, the side effects of noshing on a ripe banana can be painful, embarrassing and even life-threatening. Fructose is a sugar found in fruit, honey, some syrups and many processed foods. Individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance lack an enzyme essential for the metabolism of fructose. Build up of fructose in the body can result in serious liver and kidney damage. Individuals with fructose malabsorption have trouble digesting the sugar and may experience gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea after eating a fructose-rich food. Be aware that sucrose, or table sugar, is made by joining fructose to another sugar molecule called glucose. When you cook for a friend with fructose intolerance, avoid all fructose, sucrose and sorbitol -- a sugar alcohol that interferes with fructose digestion.
Cook fresh beef, veal, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish straight from the butcher. Avoid bacon, ham, cold cuts, hot dogs and other meats preserved with sugar. Read the ingredients label to make sure the meat is sucrose, fructose and sorbitol free.
Limit your use of vegetables to cabbage, green bell peppers, celery, green beans, spinach, wax beans, lettuce and cauliflower. Other vegetables may contain fructose.
Avoid all condiments sweetened with sugar including ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, chili sauce, maple syrup, jams, jellies and preservatives. Some condiments can be made at home. For instance, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for a simple salad dressing.
Cook white potatoes, rice, macaroni noodles and spaghetti for side dishes, but avoid sweet potatoes. Most pasta should be safe, but read the ingredients list just to be sure.
Don't cook with bread or most crackers. If a recipe calls for bread crumbs, crush soda crackers that are fructose-free.
Serve dietetic gelatin, ice cream or pudding for dessert. As tempting as it may be to dish up your favorite brownie or cake recipe, almost all desserts are made with sugar or fructose.
Avoid all fruit, fruit juices, honey and other syrups. Additionally, the American Gastroenterological Association recommends that individuals with fructose intolerance limit their intake of alcohol. If you choose to serve booze, stick with unflavored beer and hard liquor. Avoid wine, which is full of fruit sugar.
- Talk to your friend about the extent of her intolerance. Some individuals with fructose malabsorption are able to tolerate small quantities of fructose or sucrose.
Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.