How apples tempt you into bad habits

  • Can I really be losing it? How apples can tempt you into bad habits
  • Discover the clock of health… sort of
  • Did our caveman ancestors enjoy TV dinners?

I never knew apples could speak…

But yesterday evening, at around 10 p.m., they called out to me.

It was faint at first, but gradually their noise drowned out the sound of D.I. Frost trying to solve another murder.

It was no good I had to go and find them.

I followed their voices out of the living room, down the hall and into the kitchen.

And there, in the fridge, I found a bowl of stewed apples crying EAT ME!

So what else was there for me to do but put them out of their misery (with the help of a bit of custard)?

But it seems my act of mercy might have been doing me no favours at all…

…and I am really concerned that being bullied into eating fruit might be a sign that I am losing what little sanity I had!

The health clock watchers

Of course, I’m not about to start lecturing you (or myself) about the ills of a sweet treat here and there. As desserts go, stewed apples and custard probably hold a fair bit of nutritional value compared to other desserts.

But even if I’d tucked into a slice of Death By Chocolate, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of what you fancy.

In fact, there’s a lot right with it.

But the problem with my journey to the fridge wasn’t what I ate, it was when I ate it.

You see, body clock experts (it seems there are experts for everything these days) are convinced that every routine we perform has a time slot that’s perfect for it. And surprise… surprise eating a bowl of stewed apples in front of a fridge at 10 p.m. isn’t one of them.

So, what are you meant to do when?

I offer this insight for all of those who emailed me over the weekend about their own lock down struggles.

It seems that we are all falling into bad habits because the ‘normal’ life timetables are being upset.

One reader told me that they never thought the ‘chore’ of walking the dog would now be the highlight of their day!

Another who said that the constant temptation of the fridge meant they were gaining weight by the day…

…I think we can all sympathise with that one!

So, have a look at these ideas for building a different routine into a stay at home life.

Why you should put on a tracksuit in the morning

Here’s a broad list of times and functions that we’re meant to stick to:

– Rise and shine, it’s after six! Dr Michael Smolensky from the chronobiology centre in Texas claims our internal body clocks wake us up after six or seven hours of sleep. Which means go to bed at midnight, and you should get up at 6-7a.m. Any later than this, and you’re fighting against your body’s natural order.

– Exercise first thing – it’s more likely to improve your mood and make you feel brighter if you get active in the morning. Importantly you will burn the same number of calories whenever you exercise, but because you feel like you’re up and at ‘em early and putting more effort in as a result, your mental state gets a kick.

Now, the idea of bouncing around in the front room under the direction of floppy haired Joe Wicks doesn’t fill me with desire, but I do a variation of the Canadian Air Force workout that was popular in the 1960’s.

I am sure that there will be a version of it online, but basically it is a few stretches, a stationary run and a simple press up… just enough to earn my breakfast!

So if a burst of morning fitness appeals to you, but even the Canadian approach doesn’t work for you why not take a quick stroll for the morning papers, you could even go the long way round if it’s a nice morning.

– Eat breakfast! Even though this ‘health commandment’ goes against my natural groggy morning instinct, eating breakfast is vital if you want to get your body set up for the day’s trials and tribulations. And according to the body-clock experts, eating it between 8-9a.m. will do you the most good.

Your metabolism is all geared up to start breaking down food and channeling it around your body, which means you’ll use the fuel more efficiently. Plus, eating breakfast will help you stave off those ‘snacks on the run’.

– Use your brain at 11a.m.! Now, Lara might say that using my brain even once a day would be over-taxing it, but for the rest of you normal folk, 11.a.m. is apparently the best time to tackle tasks that require a bit of figuring out.

Dr Michael Hastings of Cambridge University claims that brain power peaks before noon, and with your body temperature being at its best around this time, your brain is at its most efficient.

The grey matter revs up again mid-afternoon, but this time it’s your memory that reaches its optimum level. So if you need to remember facts and figures, try setting aside some time at 3p.m.

Which brings me to the last point in the list, and the one I have most trouble with:

Why you’re leaving it too late if you hear the Eastenders theme tune

According to the experts, you should eat your biggest meal between 4p.m. and 7p.m.

Four and seven! It seems evolution has forgotten about work, commuting and picking the kids up from school.

This idea is the brainchild of Dr Mark Mattson from America’s National Institute On Ageing. He says this approach copies the habits of our cave dwelling ancestors – which is when our basic metabolism was all set up.

And I suppose it’s fair to assume they didn’t have too many problems with desk jobs and commuting back then, they certainly had a stay home lifestyle.

But in my opinion the strain of trying to keep to this timetable would do you no good at all. And anyway, how do we know pre-historic man ate at these times?

How can we be sure he just didn’t put his feet up in front of a stone telly and eat later?

Far more sensible to me seems to be the idea of eating well at breakfast, refueling at lunch and having something light at the end of the day (before 9 p.m.).

And if that means a bowl of apples and custard while I’m meant to be making Lara a cup of tea, then so be it!