How to stop overeating at mealtimes, according to a nutritionist

Eating an apple before mealtimes will stop you eating too much and still feel full, according to this nutritionist

Healthy eating an apple
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If you're looking for ways to break your old habits and stick to your weight-loss goals in 2021, one of the most important factors when trying to eat healthy is portion control. 

Although you could follow a portion size guide and use healthier cooking methods (such as the best air fryers, which use a very small amount of added fat, or the best grills, which cook meat and veggies without added carcinogens and allow excess fat to drain away) most people following a modern western diet tend to eat too much at mealtimes. 

However there's an easy way to curb our appetites without resorting to medication, or going hungry. It's incredibly, embarrassingly simple: before you sit down for a big meal at home, eat an apple. 

Apple

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London nutritionist and author Rob Hobson said: “Consuming an apple before a meal will help to increase the overall fibre content of that meal, and help you feel full and satisfied for longer. 

"It’s so easy too. Just snack on a fresh and crunchy British apple as you’re preparing a meal, and then you’ll not only benefit from being less likely to eat as much of the meal, you’ll also benefit from the apples’ healthy flavonoids and fibres that can help to burn belly fat and promote satiety.”   

Hobson's claims are backed by science: one study from the journal Nutrition Reviews found an increase in dietary fibre correlated with a decrease in energy intake, assisting weight loss efforts. An apple has also been found to be more filling than a chocolate bar, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Healthy eating apple

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This satiating starter will help promote good bacteria in the gut, while apples also contain catechin, which is a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants are a common nutritional buzzword, but if something has "antioxidants" in it, it is thought to prevent or slow down cell damage.

Hobson, who is promoting the movement alongside the British Apples & Pears organisation, adds: “apples are rich in polyphenol compounds that act as antioxidants, helping to protect the body from damage caused by excess free radicals and reducing inflammation in the body.

"Consuming an apple before a meal can help to increase the overall antioxidant content of your meal, making apples the go-to healthy eating addition.” 

Research on antioxidants has been disputed. However, apples have loads of other good stuff in them, such as that fibre content, and vitamin C which has been found to bolster the immune system. They're also cheap and easy to come by. 

It's not just apples you can consume before a big meal to reduce your intake. One study found drinking a glass of water (perhaps out of one of our best water bottle for the gym, if you're on the go) reduced how much participants ate, while maintaining the same feeling of fullness.