Often, the foods we’re intolerant to are our most favorite things to eat. Almost always when I’m doing a foundational consultation with someone who has just learned that they have a fruit intolerance, they will tell me that they love fruit and eat it every day.
One of the primary foods we suggest to replace the fruit in their diet are melons. Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe - any kind will do. They’re juicy and sweet, and although not quite the same as other fruits, they help replace that part of the diet.
Recommending melons has never been a problem, until now.
Recently, a patient of the clinic who I had done the foundational food intolerance counseling with contacted me to ask if watermelon could possibly be fruit. They’d been strictly following the doctor’s recommendation to avoid fruit and the combination of potato with grain and had been feeling much better as a result, until suddenly they started having stomach issues. They combed through everything they’d been eating, and the only thing they could come up with as the culprit was watermelon.
Initially, my assumption was that watermelon couldn’t possibly be a problem. That said, there is an aspect of individuality to the food intolerances, and sometimes people have problems digesting foods that are fine for another person with the same intolerances. Maybe this was one of those issues.
But, they’d heard that watermelon is sometimes injected with dye, and asked if that could be the cause.
Looking into it, it turns out that watermelons are often injected with chemicals to make them grow faster, ripen quicker, as well as with food dye to make the color more appealing.
Forchlorfenuron is injected by farmers to make the watermelons grow faster. Because of the accelerated growth they don't have much flavor, have pale colored flesh and seeds, and fibrous fruit. A study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that forchlorfenuron can impact hormones and reproductive organs in rats.
So it may have been oxytocin that caused the patient’s stomach problems. (I am not a doctor, but we can speculate.)
There’s also the issue of red food dye. Bakerpedia shows that Red Dye #40 is stabilized with ascorbic acid, which is derived from either citrus or corn. So, the dye could have fruit, causing digestive problems to the person who ate the watermelon colored with it.
Either way, it is possible that watermelon was the culprit for this fruit intolerant person. And, it may not even have been due to fruit, but instead to chemicals injected to accelerate growth and ripening.
The way to avoid this is to choose melons when they’re in season, ideally grown locally. Look on the melon for the pale spot which indicates that it was ripened under the sun in a field. If the stalk is still green rather than brown and shriveled, then it may have been picked early.
Just do your best.