Apples are the only thing that can save me from over-eating

As I walk the road to clean eating, apples have joined me. They may actually be my strongest ally

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published April 11, 2024 1:30PM (EDT)

Red Apples Pattern (Getty Images/MirageC)
Red Apples Pattern (Getty Images/MirageC)

A few apples a day can keep the guilt away . . . or whatever mom used to say. 

I don't want to act like I have discovered a foolproof plan, and no, you will not shed an "Ozempic amount" of pounds by following me; however, I have found a natural way to curb your appetite while still being able to enjoy some of your favorite foods in moderation. 

I love food and I know this is something that we expect all hungry and greedy people like me to say, but my story goes deeper. There's something extremely satisfying about that first bite into a burger with the perfect temperature, buttery golden eggs fried just right, or that last slice of cheesy, greasy pizza. I could literally go out to eat at a restaurant every day of the week if it weren't so expensive.

Having this kind of appetite is not sustainable, though, especially if you want to avoid being stretched across the hospital bed with a blood pressure of 300 over 200. So, what do we do?

Many people feel like the answer is forcing yourself to love unseasoned salmon and lettuce for your three meals a day. And sure, you may be able to get through a week or so, but you will get so bored that I guarantee you'll run right back towards that greasy pizza — and there's nothing wrong with that, outside of forgetting the reason why you tried clean eating in the first place.

Food is good and we deserve delicious meals just like we deserve to be healthy; I think this can be done in moderation. I had this conversation with my mother, who is also on a health journey. 

For context, my mother is pretty healthy for a woman in her early 60s. She moves around well, takes long walks when the weather is nice and is relatively small — she can even fit into her clothes from decades ago.

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"Hey, what's your secret, ma?" I asked, complimenting her size, during our last extensive food conversation. 

She gave me a long, dense answer, talking about fiber and bowel movements, and yes, I'm going to spare you. Not because I black out and instantly transform into an immature child anytime a person starts talking about feces, but apples. Apples was her point and the answer. 

"I don't have a datasheet or publishable statistics, but I noticed that I didn't eat as much during the first week. "

My mother's secret is apples. She started eating two or three apples daily and was less hungry and maintained the same amount of energy, if not more. 

So, I tested her theory. I don't have a data sheet or publishable statistics, but I noticed that I didn't eat as much during the first week. My wife and I have been notorious for eating dinner at 9:00 and 10:00 at night, but on the days I've had two or more apples, I found it very easy to wait until the next day. Knowing this, I decided to start eating an apple with every meal. It doesn't matter if I'm eating something healthy like that unseasoned salmon or that pasta dish that is deserved after having long weeks — I always started with one apple. 

I have been doing this for about two weeks now and notice that I cannot eat as much. Yes, I can have steak frites and pizza and whatever, but if I have an apple first, I will only be eating a portion of my main course. If I eat that apple first, I won't be demolishing a whole burger — only half (and maybe a few fries.) 

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The beauty of this is that the apples are easy to carry around as I keep a bowl in my house and a bag with three or four of them in the car. So even when I'm mobile and have to eat on the run, I always have an apple available. You can do this with celery, cucumbers and other vegetables, too. 

I challenge you to eat an apple or a few pieces of celery before you eat that burger and I guarantee it will be harder to finish. Dessert may not even be an option! Now that's moderation. 

I understand that this may not be the most practical thing in the world to try, but I loaded up on apples and I'm going to continue this journey because I'm eating a lot less, still enjoying the food that I love and I feel great.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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