Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Three – Willpower.

One of the hardest things that I ever did was give up sugar 23 years ago… not forever, but certainly for the two years that it took me to lose 150lbs. I still do it periodically when I can see my weight creeping back up again. After being so obese for many years my body is determined to regain lbs it has lost and it is still a struggle for me to stay at a reasonably healthy weight.

Completing this gentle detox two or three times a year has certainly helped me to get back to basics and curb my very strong sugar cravings. Once I start, I find it difficult to stop. I discovered when I began working with clients over 20 years ago that I was not alone in this.

I often would have this discussion with my clients who felt that there was no way that they could give up one or more of these because they ‘LOVED THEM’.

This is a little tip – if you keep a food diary for a week, and after seven days review the food that you have eaten and attach the emotion ‘LOVE’ to certain items, you are probably eating too much of that particular food . If the food is sugary in nature then you are also addicted to it.

You might admire, covet, desire to have an object or type of food but to ‘LOVE’ something implies that there is a chance of reciprocation, that the object of your love is a live, warm entity such as a parent, partner, child, dog, rabbit. I am afraid that all you will get from that bar of chocolate you are eating every day is extra weight around your middle, clogged arteries and indigestion. You can have a relationship with chocolate, but like many that we enter into it is healthier when experienced in small amounts from time to time.

“Surgically implanted willpower”

It is no secret that I am not an advocate for weight loss surgery as I believe that it is ‘surgically implanted willpower’. As we have become addicted to fast foods and sugar, we have also become addicted to the fast fix. It took me 18 months to lose 11 stone (150lbs) nearly 23 years ago. Whilst I am not as slim today – I am still 10 stone lighter than I was in the beginning. I also do not have the obesity related health problems I had then, including high blood sugar levels, very high blood pressure and elevated LDL cholesterol. Neither do I need to take medications for those conditions.

These are the future health problems that they believe will be alleviated by giving at risk obese patients the surgery now at a very high cost.

What is even more disturbing is that whilst there may be valid psychological reasons for such radical measures on medical advice, the private sector is making millions offering this surgery to those with enough money to buy into the marketing. The NHS in the UK is now spending £85 million annually (2012 figures) on obesity related surgery whilst patients with life threatening diseases such as cancer cannot receive the drugs they need to extend their life or more disturbing possibly put them into remission.

When considering any surgery you should always research the benefits and the risks. If you are contemplating any form of obesity surgery then here are a few risks to consider.

Post-operative risks that need to be considered.
1 in 20 people will suffer an infection
1 in 100 people – blood clot
1- 100 people – internal bleeding
1 – 12 people – gallstones (common with anyone who has lost a great deal of weight in a short space of time – including me).
1-50 people -gastric band slippage
1- 2000 people with a gastric band – death

Source –

This may seem harsh, but my own experience of obesity is that it is self-inflicted. Of course there are enabling factors – the availability of fast and processed foods, sugar addiction and manufacturers cashing in on our taste buds, but at the end of the day it is actually about our own choices and decisions.

If you read the recommendations for eating following gastric surgery you will understand why a patient can lose 10 stone in a year.

Four weeks of liquid diet a further two on pureed food – the rest of their lives on three small meals a day – minimum snacking – no fizzy drinks, diet or otherwise, eating and chewing slowly and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables with lean protein.

I have worked with a number of clients post weight-loss surgery and found that they had received little or no nutritional counselling (or any that stuck) and had resumed their poor eating habits that had caused their obesity in the first place. A bar of chocolate fits well into a shrunken stomach and saves a lot of hassle preparing a small healthy meal!

Non Surgical Intervention.

So that was the extreme end of the willpower spectrum. But if you are embarking on this gentle detox or any healthy weight loss programme, then perhaps you might consider this formula that I have found very successful for myself and those I work for.



If you are contemplating anything major in your life that you want to succeed, you cannot approach with a wishy-washy attitude and wing it. This applies to any work, personal or health related project. A decision is not a ‘maybe’ a ‘might’ or ‘perhaps’ it is a firm commitment to do something. It is not an ‘I should do this’ it is an ‘I Must do this’.

So having decided you are going to embark on a healthier lifestyle then you need some incentive to stick to that decision to the end.

Vision – Where do you want to be in six weeks’ time or six months?

You want to be healthier, slimmer, more energetic, and able to do more activities. Well this is where your imagination comes in and you need to see yourself at the end of all this hard work looking and feeling fantastic and that the time spent achieving it was worth it.

To help this process it is a good idea to draw up a balance sheet.

On one side the negative impact your current health is having on your life. Why you feel that you need to undertake this project. Perhaps you are too overweight to keep up with your children or grandchildren, you have painful knees and hip joints that are feeling the strain or you have high Blood Pressure, LDL (harmful cholesterol) levels or High blood sugar that could indicate that you are pre-diabetic.

It might be that activities that you were passionate about are now not possible because of your fitness levels. You get the idea. It does not matter – what is important is that you are really clear about why you want to improve your health and lifestyle.

The other side of the balance sheet is the positive impact you expect from working hard over the next six weeks or longer. It is where you visualise what you will be able to accomplish, enjoy and participate in once you have completed the job. This is your reward for making a decision and sticking to it.


This is where the determination comes into it. Having made your decision, have a clear vision in your mind of where you want to be in the time frame you have chosen (realistic) you then have to be firm with yourself every time you feel that you are going to veer from the plan and indulge for a few days.

If you are half-hearted about the process it is effectively taking two steps forward and one step back..It is also likely that you will not complete the project because eventually it will fall by the wayside and end up as one of the high percentage of ‘diets’ that fail.

So the choice is yours when it comes to willpower. If you do not want to be where you are today with health and weight, then you need to make a firm decision to change, visualise where you want to be and stick to it.

Unlike surgically implanted willpower, the only side-effects to this type of attitude are a positive result and a great deal of self-satisfaction in a job well done.

Next time I will be looking at some of the other reasons for doing a periodic detox or health reviews which include food intolerances and unexplained health problems.

You can find the other posts in the Gentle Detox series in this Directory:

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with over twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here:

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to

13 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – The Gentle Detox – Part Three – Willpower.

  1. Very interesting, Sally, especially your comments about the weight loss surgery. I know ladies who have had this surgery. It works really well until they find ways to bypass its effects like drinking milkshake instead of eating cake. Losing weight is a mind set, I agree with you, and it requires both determination and will power.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Your wise words will be appreciated by many, I’m sure, Sally. All power to you. I don’t entirely agree with the recent doctors’ statement that a fair proportion of obese people are genetically fat. I was old enough in WW2 to be aware that NONE OF MY MANY AUNTS, or mother were overweight….My husband came to the same conclusion about his relatives (except for two aunts who were known as ‘scoffers…’. You only have to look at news footage from the war years to spot the few….really over-weight people…Of course, there were exceptions due to ill health, but they were in the minority. I am a bit over-weight as I have a VERY sweet tooth but cut down every now and then when my wait-band really talks to me… We have no added sugar in drinks, rarely drink fizzy liquids and -when my husband makes cakes – he drastically reduces the sugar content.We rarely eat much fried food and now have smaller amounts of everything, including pieces of dark chocolate (a treat of one piece (small) once a day). It makes sense Many thanks. Hugs xx ..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Joy… You are right and my parents both said the same thing. There are some people who do have a genetic problem with producing leptin which is normally secreted by the fat cells and works on the hypothalamus in the brain when sufficient food is consumed. Today unfortunately babies are born addicted to sugar, since their mothers are. So whilst not genetic it does begin in the womb. I know from my own experience how tough it is to give it up, and I still have to be very careful as once I start eating sweet stuff, it takes hold very quickly… Sounds like you have it worked out and still get to enjoy in moderation… xxx


  4. Determination and willpower are the two biggest obstacles I face. I hate discipline and always have. But, as a result, I am 10 to 12 pounds overweight and I don’t like it. So, it is a mindset for sure. Thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of my friends had an operation and it does take a toll, for sure (she suffered bad scarring, subocclusions, and even years later she has to be very careful with what she eats). There is no easy answer and you need to change the way you eat and be committed to that change for life, but, as you say, it’s not really love. Thanks for the great advice, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

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I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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