Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters – The Sequel – Candida Albicans – Sally Cronin


In last week’s post I explored the physical events in my life from childhood that might have resulted in the inability to sustain a healthy weight. Whilst I could pinpoint an hormonal imbalance from puberty, and a cycle of crash dieting as contributors to my eventual morbid obesity. It was the more important discovery of a series of extended courses of anti-biotics at age 10, that was to result in a breakthrough.

It is not just my health that was compromised, many millions of the population, particular in developed countries also have been put at risk, with an estimated 70% of us with a candidal albicans overgrowth, seriously undermining our health.

Just to recap….

What is Candida Albicans

Candida is a fungal infection of the intestine. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in our gut and it works very much like a waste-disposal unit. However, certain conditions can activate changes in the balance between healthy flora and this opportunistic fungus, and this can result in Candida taking control of the intestine. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar. Among the many symptoms of this condition is an irrational craving for sweet foods including high sugar savoury foods such as pasta sauces.

The list of symptoms attributable to Candida seemed endless, but when I completed the questionnaire, my score was so high that there was no doubt at all that I was indeed suffering from an overgrowth in its most chronic form. While it was an enormous relief to have identified what had been causing my problems, it was devastating to realise that Candida had been a part of my life since childhood and was likely to be one of the main reasons for my weight problems. It was not just a childhood event that had triggered Candida, but its fire had been fuelled several times since.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the prime causes for this condition is the over use of antibiotics, and also some other medications prescribed for conditions such as asthma. Once I realised this, I put together a chart showing the periods in my life when I had experienced weight gain. Bingo! In every instance the weight gain followed heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of reasons. In one way this discovery was reassuring.

Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Before I look at Candida in more detail… I am often asked the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. This difference is important as diet is the key element of keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut, and our modern diet, that includes far more industrialised foods, does not provide the elements needed to maintain this balance.

Probiotics are the bacteria and yeasts that are classified as ‘friendly’. They inhabit our digestive tract and are a vital part of the process of digesting food and turning it into something that the rest of the body into a form it can utilise. Without a healthy balance of these probiotics, systems such as the immune function, can be compromised, as well as the health of other operating systems and the major organs.  If you eat live dairy products, including Kefir, or fermented foods such as sauerkraut, it will encourage the essential bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to flourish.

Prebiotics are processed from insoluble carbohydrates in most fruit and vegetables including Apples (skin on) bananas, beans, artichokes etc (which is why we need to eat several portions of vegetables and fruit daily) This survives the stomach acid and digestive process that some foods such as yogurts might not do, and reaches the gut where it acts like a fertiliser for the existing probiotics and maintains a healthy balance.

As far as Candida Albicans is concerned this balance in the intestinal flora is crucial and I will explain that as we mover through the upcoming posts.

We are all familiar with the concerns about the rain forests and their devastation and long lasting consequences for our planet. Well our gut is an eco-system too – teeming with life that is as varied and as exotic as in any rain forest. And, like the many species that are at risk in the wider world, our bacteria that populate our gut and keep us alive, are under threat too.

All humans contain Candida Albicans in small amounts in our gut and urinary tract. In those amounts it is harmless – however – advances in medical treatment, and our modern diet, have given this opportunistic pathogen all it needs to develop from harmless colonies to massive overgrowths. It is also referred to as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection.

The most at risk are those with an already compromised immune system, but because of our high sugar, white carbohydrate and processed foods in our diets, most of us are now at risk.

We have also been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics for the last 65 years, as well as newer drugs that we take long term, that manipulate our hormonal balances. We as yet do not know the long term impact on our bodies of the modern drugs we take, and it may be generations before we do. Which is why there is now great concern that the pathogens are becoming more and more resistant to drugs such as antibiotics.

The eco-system which is our gut.

Our intestinal tract, like our hearts, brains, livers, kidneys etc is a major organ. Some refer to it as the ‘gut brain’ – How many times do you mention your gut feelings? Without it there would be no way to process the raw ingredients we eat to keep our immune system healthy enough to protect us from pathogens. The good bacteria or flora in the gut, two of which are, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus normally keep the Candida in balance.

In most cases antibiotics are broad spectrum, not specific, because, without a lab test it is difficult to tell the specific strain of bacteria responsible for an infection. The use of broad spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off.

  • Unfortunately, not only the bad bacteria are killed off but also the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Candida remains unaffected because it is not bacteria it is a yeast and this is where it takes full advantage.

What happens to Candida to allow it to take over?

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like components are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens to enter the blood stream causing allergic reactions. Mucus is also formed around major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This prevents your digestive system from functioning efficiently. The result is poorly digested food and wasted nutrients. Your body begins to suffer a deficiency of these nutrients and it leads to chronic fatigue, an impaired immune system and disease.

There would appear to be a strong link between this overgrowth of Candida Albicans to a huge list of symptoms and illness. Here is a snapshot.

  • People who are suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME usually test positive for Candida although there are also other issues involved in this complex condition.
  • Numbness, burning or tingling in fingers or hands.
  • Insomnia,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea,
  • Bloating,
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Thrush and Cystitis,
  • Sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual drive.
  • Endometriosis or infertility
  • PMS and heavy and painful periods.
  • Depression and panic attacks
  • Irritablity when hungry.
  • Unexplained muscle or joint pains often diagnosed with arthritis.
  • Headaches and mood swings.
  • Chronic rashes or hives
  • Food intolerance.
  • Liver function due to build up of toxins leading to  chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression.

The list is virtually endless – which just adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then you may have a varying degree of overgrowth.

If you would like to complete the Candida questionnaire yourself then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

In the upcoming posts this week I will be featuring some of the health problems associated with an overgrowth of Candida Albicans and the strategies to reduce levels to normal, and rebalance the flora in your gut.

You can find the previous posts in this series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

©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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

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

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Something to Think About – Keeping the Magic of Romance Alive Every Day by Sally Cronin


This post appeared on Jacquie Biggar’s website last year. I thought you might like to read again on this day of love and romance….

Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day and I believe that romance is something that infuses every day of a relationship, but if receiving a card, or some roses, reminds someone of how much they are loved, then this is a good day.

My thanks to Jacquie for inviting me to share my views on romance. It is one of the elements of our lives which is universal, and much sort after. People often ask what the secret to a happy relationship is… darned if I know.  All I can offer you is some of the little things I have come to appreciate over the last 50 odd years of dating and relationships. Make that 55 as I had a crush on Peter Birch at primary school age ten which resulted in my first broken heart!

Because many of you who are reading this are writers, I thought you might be interested in a few statistics on the billion-dollar-a-year Romance book industry via Romance Writers

  • The annual total sales of romance novels per year is in excess of a billion dollars.
  • Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market is 34%.
  • 82% of romance readers are women.
  • Average age is 35-39.

What interested me about these statistics is that romance is a hot ticket item. It is also evident that romantic stories are very much sought after by women, but clearly not as high on the list for men. Something that those who feel men are sometimes not as romantic as they might be, would find interesting!

Another statistic is that the average age of those seeking out romance stories is between the ages of 35-39… which begs the question… Do women in their 40s, 50s, 60s give up on romance, or they are simply not catered for by the romance writers?

Like most young girls of my generation, I was infused with the myths surrounding love and romance at an early age. Between fairy tales and my mother’s desire to make the goal of romance clear cut in my mind, I surmised that at some point a Prince Charming, on a white horse, would sweep into my life, whisk me off my feet, and we would ride off into a future of bliss, children and Happy Ever After.

I was encouraged to take the available wisdom to heart, and with hopes and dreams of my own, embarked on my own dating adventures. The trouble with ingrained expectations is that they are not always as revered by others, particularly the opposite sex.

However, after some false starts, at the age of 20, a more mature Prince Charming of 26 did arrive, in uniform and driving a classic American sports car. It seemed that expectations had been met and exceeded, and it was crowned with a spectacular wedding with matriarchal approval on both sides. We drove off into the sunset with clanging tin cans behind the steed… which proved to be tolling bells of doom!

Trouble is what you see is not always what you get! And when compounded with differing expectations of what a relationship is supposed to be, and a lack of commitment of one of the participants, things tend to fall apart. After four years, some interesting life lessons, and an expensive legal intervention which took three years, I finally managed to extricate myself with a vow to never marry again.

Then wouldn’t you know it, six months later, into my life walked a softly-spoken, unassuming guy who took me out on a date and asked me to marry him before the night was over. Five weeks later, without any ceremony, and with just our parents in attendance, we exchanged rings and our own vows.

The last 39 years have taught me that romance is not one-size fits all, is unique to two people who love each other, and is not always about red roses and chocolates.

Some of the elements that spell romance for me.

As Jeremy Taylor quoted ‘Love is Friendship set on Fire’. Of course there is that initial, and amazing firework display of hormonally induced physical attraction, which then evolves over the years into a familiarity that can still be breathtaking. However, without the essential elements of like-mindedness, shared moral code, sense of humour, and appreciation of another’s unique personality, the fire of romance slowly dies down to embers.

An analogy I often use for romance between two people, is that it is like an extended ballroom dance that flows and whirls with two partners in perfect sync. Always staying within the limits of the dance floor, allowing other styles come into play, with fiery tangos and playful sambas as the tempo of the music changes. Even when there is a momentary loss of connection, there is a coming together again, and the dance always finishes in a firm embrace.

Whilst there may be the occasional extravagant gesture when a special event warrants it, mostly it is the small things that keep romance alive and flourishing.

Red roses are wonderful, and we all love to receive a bouquet on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. But it is the odd flower brought in from the garden and laid on a breakfast tray, a small tree planted in the garden that blossoms every spring, or the paper flower, misshapen and oddly coloured that appears by a bedside, that really help to keep romance alive.

Romance is waking up on every birthday to find cards hand-made from images of sea, sunflowers, cats and dogs, golden sunsets with handwritten verses inside that come from the heart. It is also those few minutes on your wedding anniversary when you sit silently, holding hands and remembering that special day and the people who are no longer there to share the memories with you.

True romance flourishes when you are unwell and scared and a strong hand holds yours and a voice close to your ear, tells you that it will be alright, that you are safe. It is when you suffer a loss and cry together and heal together. It is when you walk through the door and someone says, ‘hi love, how was your day?’

Romance is when the last words before you go to sleep are ‘I love you’

Romance does exist after 39 years old, whatever the statistics might say.

Romance and love go hand in hand, and as I watch very old people together, you can tell the ones who still adore and respect each other. It is easy to still see that spark and twinkle in the eyes, the small touches of a hand or brush of lint from a shoulder. That unity has been welded from years of life, laughter, sadness, joy, disappointment, excitement and love. Thousands of cups of tea, breakfasts in bed, dances in the kitchen, date nights, holding hands in the movies and vigils by a sickbed, have gone into the rich tapestry that is romance. There might be a faded red rose pressed between the pages of a diary, or a diamond ring that comes out on special occasions, but it is these small daily gestures that will have kept the romance alive and will continue to do so long after one or both of them dies.

Romance is also about the things we don’t do in a relationship.

We don’t belittle someone we love in public and then say ‘But you know I love you’.

We don’t bully them and then say we are doing it ‘Because you know I love you.’

We don’t marry who we believe is Prince Charming or the fairy princess, and then set about changing them by saying ‘You know it is because I love you.’

We don’t take the actions of those we love for granted, and saying ‘thank you’ for a meal, a wardrobe full of clean clothes or for being a great mum or dad, goes a long way to keep romance alive.

Romance is not about making someone happy or expecting them to make you happy. Your happiness is your responsibility and choice. Putting the onus for your happiness on someone else is a very quick way to lose them.

I will leave you with one of my favourite poems on romance from Elizabeth Barrett Browning courtesy of The Poem Hunter

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Most of my stories have an element of romance.. and with my latest book, I have even got a Prince Charming (the good kind).

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

All my books in Ebook are available: Amazon UK

And Amazon US: Amazon US

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: Goodreads

Thank you for dropping in today and even if you don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, what is the most romantic gesture you have ever received?

Smorgasbord Health Column- Foods to get you in the Mood for St. Valentine’s Day by Sally Cronin


Perhaps Adam thought the apple was an aphrodisiac when he offered it to Eve and certainly the belief that foods could stimulate and arouse us to passion has been honoured by both men and women since earliest recorded time.

It is a belief that is held across every race, culture and age group, which makes for interesting research into the subject.

Foods, herbs, spices and unfortunately certain animal parts have been considered to be stimulating over the ages and I am going to focus on food and herbs that are still readily available today in our supermarkets.

The background to aphrodisiacs

Aphrodisiacs were taken in the first instance to calm anxiety and therefore improve sexual performance. Having children was considered a necessity from both a moral and a religious perspective and so being at peak fertility was considered essential for both men and women.

Aphrodisiacs are broken down into two distinct functions. Primarily they needed to be nutritional to improve fertility and performance and secondly stimulating to increase desire.

Being poorly nourished will affect semen, egg production and quality so it was considered important to eat nutritional packed foods such as seeds, roots and eggs, which were considered to contain sexual powers.

To stimulate desire it was thought that eating foods that resembled the sexual organs would produce the required result and of course there was always the hearsay element of mythology and fairy tales to establish credibility for one food or another.

Many of the foods considered by the ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman civilisations to be aphrodisiacs, are still available today, and we eat them on a regular basis.   This makes it a little difficult to determine if the rocket, pistachio nuts, carrots and basil that you eat as part of your normal diet are acting as stimulants or not.

At least most of us are no longer indulging in gladioli roots or skink lizard flesh although the French may well claim that their continued consumption of snails may have something to do with their reputation as the best lovers.

Are there foods that are more of a turn OFF than a turn ON?

Allegedly there are a few foods that may not be helping you in the romance department but there is no definitive research on the subject.

Apparently eating too many lentils, lettuce, watercress, and water lilies might affect your performance although I suspect that there are more than a few rabbits that might disagree with that belief. Also one needs to choose and prepare food that is not likely to produce wind as there is nothing more disastrous during a romantic interlude!

What are considered the most effective aphrodisiacs?

Aniseed was believed by the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans to have very special properties and they sucked the seeds to increase desire. Aniseed was also favoured for its medicinal properties, which may explain its popularity as a sexual stimulant. It was used to reduce flatulence (not a particularly attractive condition) remove catarrh, act as a diuretic and as an aid to digestion combined with other herbs such as ginger and cumin.

One of its properties was to increase perspiration and one wonders if this additional heat was confused with an increase in desire. However if you are planning a romantic interlude avoid drinking it in tea form as it was considered a very effective insomnia cure.

Asparagus was well regarded for its phallic shape and also for particular stimulating properties. It was suggested that you fed it to your lover over a period of three days either steamed or boiled. One explanation of its supposed success is that it acts as a liver and kidney cleanser and also a diuretic. After three days it is likely that you might feel more energetic and also have lost a couple of pounds, guaranteed to give anyone a boost sexual or otherwise.

Almonds have long been considered the way to a girl’s heart in particular their aroma, which is supposed to induce passion in a female. Almonds are incredibly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fat so there is no doubt that regular consumption of these and other nuts would be likely to improve overall general health and therefore fertility. Almonds have been prepared in a number of ways over the ages but certainly the one that seems the most popular is marzipan, guaranteed to win over any sweet-toothed female, young or old. All nuts and seeds have similar nutritious content so you can lavish these on your sweetheart if you find it difficult to find Almonds.

Avocado was regarded as an aphrodisiac mainly due to its shape. The Aztecs called the avocado tree “Ahuacuati” or testicle tree and when brought to Europe the Spanish called the fruit aquacate. Apart from the shape the fruit has a sensuous smooth texture and exotic flavour that stimulates all the senses. Again including avocados in your diet several times a week will contribute to your general health as well as possibly improving your love life.

The banana has been featured several times in my blogs on healthy and medicinal foods. Obviously the shape played some part in its reputation as an aphrodisiac but it is very rich in potassium and B vitamins, which are both essential for healthy hormone production. Eating one banana is unlikely to enhance sexual performance but including them on a regular basis will certainly have you firing on all cylinders.

Cloves amongst other herbs and spices contain eugenol, which is very fragrant and aromatic. It has been used for centuries as a breath freshener, which may be hint to why in days before dental hygiene became so important eating it before a date was considered an aphrodisiac.

 

Chocolate like almonds has long been regarded as an enticement to females and contrary to popular belief; Cadburys were not the inventors of this delicious if very addictive treat. The Aztecs called it the “nourishment of the Gods” probably because of the chemicals in chocolate that stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain that produce a feel good effect. It also stimulates the production of theobromine, which is related to caffeine and would no doubt stimulate performance in other areas.

If only Adam had been better informed, he might have made a better impression!

Honey has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was considered essential as a cure for sterility and impotence. Even in medieval times less than scrupulous suitors would ply their dates with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. This was also drunk by newly-weds on their honeymoon probably acting to relax inhibitions and anxiety. Honey is wonderfully nutritious and again including it regularly in your diet is likely to improve your general state of health, which would lead to improved sexual performance.

Mace and Nutmeg contain myristicin and some compounds related to mescaline. Mescaline is found in Peyote cactus and has been used in South American and North American Indian cultures for over 2000 years as a hallucinogen. This might explain why the use of mace and nutmeg in aphrodisiac potions may have produced mild euphoria and loss of inhibitions. Hot milk and ground nutmeg has long been a night-time drink and now we know why.

Oysters were well known for their aphrodisiac qualities in Roman times and their reputation continues today. There is some reference to their likeness to female sexual organs but the main thing going for oysters is their high content of Zinc. This mineral is essential for male potency but if you do not have a balanced diet with other sources of zinc, eating a dozen oysters from time to time is unlikely to give you the desired results.

Saffron has been used since the times of the ancient Greeks where it was harvested from the wild yellow crocus, flowers. Its use has since spread throughout the world and has been used for thousands of years as a medicine and as a perfume. It is said to be an excellent aid to digestion, increases poor appetite and being antispasmodic will relieve stomach aches and tension. More recently it has been used as a drug to treat flu-like infections, depression and as a sedative. As far as being an aphrodisiac is concerned its most important property is likely to be its ability to regulate menstruation which would of course help lead to a better chance of conception. It is generally a tonic and stimulant and being very versatile can be used in many dishes regularly in your diet.

I obviously could not miss out the carrot – since it played a starring role in one of my health books. Carrots taken long term provide the body with a great source of vitamin A essential for our hormones and in men their sperm production. Hence, the title of my health book. Forget the Viagra……which is a men’s health manual and not just about aphrodisiacs!

 

There are many other foods, herbs and spices that have for one reason or another been associated with sexuality. These include liquorice, mustard, pine nuts, pineapple, strawberries, truffles, basil, garlic, ginger and vanilla.

The one thing that is absolutely certain is that if you have an excellent balanced diet with plenty of variety you will be taking in all the above nutrients on a continuous basis and that will enable you to enjoy an active and full sex life. Adding a few of the above ingredients will certainly do you no harm and who knows you may be able to prove if they really are all they are cracked up to be.

I cannot leave you today with a recipe that includes some of the above ingredients but I suggest if you are planning a St. Valentine’s Dinner for your loved one, you create a three course dinner from the above… Get creative!

Isabella’s aphrodisiac ice-cream.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup peeled and mashed rich ripe figs
1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the almonds and sauté until just golden. Remove the almonds and dry on paper towel. Put aside for later.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a stainless steel bowl, or double boiler, whisk the yolks with the sugar and salt for 3 minutes, or until pale yellow. Add hot milk slowly while whisking. Place the stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmer water and cook whisking constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the water and stir in the chilled cream, mashed figs, vanilla, and almond extract.
  4. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes, then pour into an ice cream maker or the freezer compartment of your fridge until set.

Of course there is allegedly an equally anciently revered aphrodisiac that has nothing to do with food!

Thanks to Pixabay.com for the images.

Thanks for dropping by and I wish your Valentine’s Day to be all you wish for. As always I love to receive your feedback.. Sally

©sally cronin Just Food For Health 1999 – 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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

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

Smorgasbord Health Column – Size Matters the Sequel – #Morbid Obesity – A physical rollercoaster – #anti-biotics #Candida #hormones #yo-yo dieting


Chapter Four – Physical Responses

Looking for physical significance in the pattern of weight loss and gain in my life has been a complicated process. The first step was to look at all the times when I was overweight and see if there was in fact a physical event that activated that particular phase.

I have been overweight, in a significant way, at least five times in my life. Up to the age of ten I seemed to have been tall and well built, but not particularly heavy. As I mentioned earlier, photographs, taken after this time, show that I had gained a considerable amount of weight over a relatively short period. I was looking for a physical trigger for this change, apart from the stress caused by moving to another country and another school?

To answer this, I have to fast-forward to when I was forty five and living in Ireland in 1998. I had worked really hard and managed to get my weight down by 120lbs to about 210 lbs. (15 st, 95 kg), but from that point on I seemed to hit a brick wall.

I was walking for a couple of hours a day, I ate sensibly on a low-fat, moderate carbohydrate regime, but I could not seem to shed any more weight. Despite this, I was experiencing some disturbing symptoms that worried me sufficiently that I had blood test done to see if that would uncover the source of my problem.

I was feeling very tired and had watery and itchy eyes, my ears constantly felt irritated and I was having mild dizzy spells. I had also developed an overwhelming urge for sweet food and bread. Having spent three years learning to control the urge for chocolate and sweets, it was frustrating and a little frightening to be in this position. At that time, a new range of biscuits and cakes came on the market which were low in fat and supposedly sugar free. I had being eating these for several weeks and it was not unusual for me to eat a packet a day. My weight started to creep up again and I became increasingly concerned that all my hard work was going to be for nothing.

The blood test showed that I was not suffering from diabetes. However, I still needed to find some answers. My husband got on the Internet and searched for some of the symptoms that I was experiencing. We got back some very interesting information, some of which could have been relevant to the problem. However, it was the data that we obtained on something called Candida Albicans that set alarm bells ringing. In the next chapterf there is more information on Candida, and a questionnaire that everyone who is overweight should complete.

What is Candida Albicans

Candida is a fungal infection of the intestine. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in our gut and it works very much like a waste-disposal unit. However, certain conditions can activate changes in the balance between healthy flora and this opportunistic fungus, and this can result in Candida taking control of the intestine. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar. Among the many symptoms of this condition is an irrational craving for sweet foods including high sugar savoury foods such as pasta sauces.

The list of symptoms attributable to Candida seemed endless, but when I completed the questionnaire, my score was so high that there was no doubt at all that I was indeed suffering from an overgrowth in its most chronic form. While it was an enormous relief to have identified what had been causing my problems, it was devastating to realise that Candida had been a part of my life since childhood and was likely to be one of the main reasons for my weight problems. It was not just a childhood event that had triggered Candida, but its fire had been fuelled several times since.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the prime causes for this condition is the over use of antibiotics, and also some other medications prescribed for conditions such as asthma. Once I realised this, I put together a chart showing the periods in my life when I had experienced weight gain. Bingo! In every instance the weight gain followed heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of reasons. In one way this discovery was reassuring.

Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

The start of the anti-biotic affect on my health.

Tracking back through my history, I saw that until I reached the age of ten, I did not have a weight problem. When we lived in Cape Town, I suddenly developed chronic tonsillitis and was sick every few weeks, until I had my tonsils removed. Each bout of tonsillitis was treated with antibiotics and, within a few months, I had gained 30 or 40 lbs. (14 to 18 kg). The photographs taken of me leaving Cape Town, and on the ship coming home, have always been a source of embarrassment to me, including the one of me in a bright yellow dress and red shoes which made me look like a little barrage balloon!

Puberty and hormones

I was also entering puberty and hormonally, all kinds of havoc was going on in my body which were contributing to the physical turmoil that all of us go through at that age.

When I was going through puberty, we rarely ate industrially manufactured foods. Most meals were cooked from scratch.Today however, it is a different story with the prevalence of foods in the modern diet that are manufactured, containing additives, chemicals and high levels of sugar. These chemical enhancers to the food that many children and teenagers are eating, are contributing to the stress placed on the body and its operating systems, including the adrenal glands.

Even the chronic stress that I was experiencing (despite seemingly putting a good face on things) resulted in my adrenal glands producing cortisol consistently, rather than when needed in a flight or fight situation. This upset the balance between progesterone, and estrogen which led to the storage of fat.

Once you get into this imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, you may find that you experience the following symptoms throughout your reproductive years, unless it is diagnosed and treated. As you will see later in the post the hormonal changes during puberty combined with stress, is reinforced by yo-yo dieting in adulthood.

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Hair thinning, loss or loss of colour
  • Fertility problems including higher risk of miscarriage
  • Moderate to severe PMS symptoms such as mood swings and bloating.
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Breast health issues including swelling and tenderness
  • Low testosterone in men
  • Thyroid disease
  • And a key factor in weight gain – damage to the metabolism resulting in consistent weight gain without necessarily overeating.

Finally my hormones began to settle down as we settled down for the last two years of my schooling and my first full time jobs.  Photographs show me as chubby until I was about fourteen (never to see the light of day), when there was a marked change. Remember that it was the 1960s and we had some pretty skinny role models then, such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. The mini-skirt was the ultimate fashion item of the day and podgy thighs looked horrendous in them.

This began another cycle of yo-yo dieting as I started skipping meals and hiding the fact from my parents. They naturally assumed that the money they gave me for my school lunch was being spent on just that, and not on cigarettes! I walked to school a mile each way and the same over the weekend to my part-time job along the seafront. I was on my feet all day and would be out in the evenings with friends, and of course as boys came on the scene. I was on the go all the time.

We always ate well at the weekends when my father cooked and I certainly made up for the starvation during the week eating steamed suet steak and kidney puddings and apple pies and custard, but it was not sufficient to make up for the very low calorie and therefore nutritional value of food during the week.

I married at twenty years old and at twenty-one I was pregnant. I stopped smoking and ate well and put on the normal amount of weight and it was a reasonably happy time in my marriage. I miscarried at 24 weeks and there were complications that would have long term affects on both my physical health and stress levels. I was put on anti-biotics for the resulting infection and it was also the beginning of a difficult time in my marriage.

Between the ages of twenty one and twenty five, I gained and lost 30 to 50 lbs two or three times a year, until by the time my marriage broke up at 25 years old, I was four stone (56lbs) overweight, suffering from shingles and in a very bad place. I am sure that some of you reading this will know exactly what depths that takes you to. I am not going to go into details of my marriage or the three years of legal wrangling involved,as it is over forty years ago, but suffice to say the physical and mental scars stay with you for a lifetime.

Thankfully I managed to pull things together, and got a fantastic job at a boarding school where I was the caterer/housekeeper cooking from scratch for 140 three times a day. A year of good wholesome food, combined with an active working day, helped bring my weight down to healthier levels.

Unfortunately it was more difficult to cope with the chronic stress as my former husband made it impossible for me to remain safely at the school, and I had to move as a far as I possibly could within the UK. I started working as the assistant manager of a hotel in Wales and until my divorce came through on April 1st 1980, I existed on one meal a day and a packet of cigarettes, which did not do my health any good at all. In retrospect, and having worked with clients with eating disorders, I recognise that I was creating rituals about food, eating very little, and at one point existed on a handful of roasted parsnips each night for my one meal of the day. I was becoming anorexic, if not already fully fledged.

I met my second husband David when I was twenty seven and had been officially, and blessedly divorced for six months.. I was at my lowest weight ever, and thought I looked the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, I was also very unhealthy. I repeatedly suffered from chest infections and was put on several courses of antibiotics. I always had the feeling that I was just about to come down with an illness: colds, coughs, and any infection that was about.

We married in November 1980. My eating habits improved and my exercise level increased, because I began helping out on the sheep farm where we were living. After about six months we moved to Liverpool and I started work in the city centre. We were saving for a house and working hard. There were little treats, however, which began to take their toll. Sunday morning breakfast in bed, for instance. Two rounds of bacon, tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches and a family packet of those tasty chocolates with the less fattening centres – that was just my portion!

After about a year I developed an abscess under a tooth. This was not unusual for me, because I had suffered several in the past, but on this occasion it nearly cost me my life. Since we were fairly broke, I attended the Liverpool Dental Hospital and was treated by senior students that ‘needed the practice’, which is not to imply that they were in any way at fault. However, as is normal practice, I was prescribed more antibiotics. Eventually, after several weeks of root-canal treatment and medication, the dental students were not able to save the tooth and so had to extract it. The infection was so bad that I was given an injection of penicillin. We flew to Ireland that weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding and I became ill and was rushed into hospital in Cork. We now know that not only had the infection spread throughout my entire system, but I had developed a blood clot after the tooth extraction that had spread to my lung. So it was blood thinner and more antibiotics!

After this episode, my weight ballooned to over 220 lbs. (15 st 10 lbs., 100 kg) and I didn’t manage to lose any weight until we were living in Texas in 1986. We lived in the United States for two amazing years. While there, I led a healthy, active life, with a diet which consisted of lots of fish, salads and vegetables, and I was not sick once. By the time we returned to England in 1987, I weighed about 180 lbs. (12 st 12 lbs., 82 kg), which was not hugely overweight, given my height. Encouraged by the fact that 40 lbs. (18 kg) had stayed off for about two years, I decided to lose another 30 lbs. (14 kg) and really get my life in gear.

A new diet of 600 calories per day was in fashion in 1987: a diet bar for breakfast and lunch and then vegetables in the evening. The promoters promised a weight loss of 30 lbs. (14 kg) per month and I achieved that very easily. I was hungry but triumphant at less than 150 lbs. (10.7st, 68 kg). Unfortunately, within two months 40 lbs. (18 kg) had leapt back on to me from ‘nowhere’. My diet was good: three meals a day, no fried food, chocolate or alcohol. A normal, everyday eating program. So how did the weight gain occur?

Over the next few years I would swap between very restrictive calorie intake of around 800 calories a day for weeks on end, followed by binge eating. And one day at age forty -two years old I was 330lbs (150kilo, 24 stone)

What was worse is that I would not eat fresh food when I was restricting my calories. I relied on the magic diet shakes and bars providing my body with its daily dose of sugar.

When I was tracking all this at the age of forty three, I was simply writing down the sequence of events. Clearly, the use of antibiotics was a primary cause, but this was not the only factor. It was also obvious that I had been suffering from Candida from the age of ten. When I had reached puberty underlying chronic stress had affected my adrenal glands, resulting in a hormonal imbalance leading to fat storage. And, what was also becoming clear was that after each extended crash diet, I would put on more weight than before and a pattern was emerging.

I now had several avenues of research to follow, and with the newly available Internet, I was able to find a certain amount of information about continuous restrictive dieting.  I discovered that  I had compounded the original weight problem by starving my body into protecting me. Every time I starved myself, my body, in its will to survive, stopped processing food and stored it instead.

How the body reacts to a cycle of restrictive calories and binge eating.

When our body perceives there to be a food shortage, it will take matters into its own hands. It is now a medically proven fact that such a condition exists; you will find details of the research into this condition on the Internet and in professional fitness publications. It is often called ‘Starvation Response’, or ‘Famine Response Syndrome’. These terms do not however adequately describe the condition for me.

The body appears to detect both calorie restrictions and nutritional deficiency. A person could be taking in 3,000 calories per day, but if the food is very high in fats and sugars and has little nutritional value, the body will consider this to be a form of starvation. I have therefore changed the name of this response by the body to ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’.

This is a condition that goes back to our very origins. It is more prevalent in women, because we were always the child-bearers and had to be able to nourish the unborn child. The female body’s response to famine was to store fat on the hips and thighs. This is the source from which the foetus would have taken its nourishment.

Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome and the reproductive system

The Hypothalamus

The other name of the hypothalamus is actually the word homeostasis, which means balance, which is very appropriate. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain and is connected to the pituitary lobes, which form the most important gland in the body and is often referred to as the Master Gland.

The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, blood sugar, water balance, fat metabolism, appetite, body weight, sensory input like taste and smell and sight, sleep, sexual behaviour, emotions, hormone productions, menstrual cycle regulation and the automatic nervous system that controls automatic functions such as breathing and the heart muscle.

The Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland has an anterior and posterior lobe. The anterior lobe regulates the activity of the thyroid, adrenals and the reproductive glands producing a number of hormones.

  • Growth hormone stimulates the growth of bone and body tissues and plays a part in the metabolism of nutrients and minerals.
  • Prolactin, which activates milk production in mothers who are breast-feeding.
  • Thyrotropin which stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones.
  • Corticotrophin which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce its hormones.
  • Gonadotrophs are cells that secret the two hormones that stimulate hormone production in the ovaries and testes. These are called luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and whilst not essential to life are essential to reproduction.

The pituitary gland also secretes endorphins, which act as natural pain relief within the nervous system. It is also the gland that releases hormones that signal the ovaries and testes to make the sex hormones and controls the ovulation and menstrual cycle.

Amenorrhea (irregular or absence of periods)occurs when the normal secretion of Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone from the hypothalamus is interrupted.

Something that I suffered from most of my reproductive years between 14 and 54.

So now I had acquired two important pieces of information. Not only did I have chronic Candida, but I was also suffering from ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’.

So I had now established that several factors that had contributed to my obesity. I say contributed, since I was still the one who had been putting food into my mouth, or not depending on where I was in my dieting cycle.

  1. Chronic stress leads to the hormone cortisol to be secreted leading to fat storage and to comfort eating, particularly in children and young adults who do not have other coping mechanisms.
  2. The overuse of antibiotics in childhood is decimating the healthy gut bacteria needed to process food effectively, and to maintain a healthy balance of Candida Albicans.
  3. Repeated yo-yo dieting, alternating between starvation and binging results in a calorific and nutritional deficiency. This forces the body into survival mode and whilst you could clearly keep starving to an extreme, leading to anorexia, most of us will start to eat normally after six to eight weeks and the body will put the weight back on, plus an extra stone every time.
  4. This cycle repeated two or three times a year can lead to an overall weight gain of three to four stone a year. You will find that the starvation phase gets shorter and the binging last longer. Until you might lose four or five pounds over six weeks but put back double that within a couple of weeks.
  5. The body does not like change, it likes to get its nutrients regularly and in a form that it understands and can process. If that does not take place certain functions within the body will cease.
  6. The body does not like to lose weight quickly, especially when it is given shakes and bars that have little relation to real food. It will work hard to refill the fat cells once real food in quantity is consumed, as storage ready for the next famine that it has been trained to expect every six to eight weeks.
  7. It is estimated that at least 70% of all people suffer from an overgrowth of Candida. And as our diet becomes increasingly industrially produced and sugar laden, this fungal infection will continue to have a part in the obesity epidemic.

Extract from an article The Largely Unknown Health Epidemic Affecting almost all Americans (and likely UK population as well).

Research from Rice University shows that 70 percent of all people have Candida, a systemic fungal infection, in their bodies. According to the molecular biologists at Rice University, Candida is common in humans and is often found in colonies in their intestines, mouths, or on their skin. When researchers delved deeper into how Candida albicans moved throughout the body, with findings published in the journal PLOS One, they noted that the “remarkable pathogen” Candida can cause infection in the body that is both superficial and systemic by penetrating epithelial barriers.

If you have a strong immune system, you could still unknowingly have a fungal/yeast infection. It most likely is low-grade and chronic.

A Harvard University fellow in infectious disease, Julia Koehler, found that Candida is the predominant fungal infection behind human disease. According to Koehler, Candida was responsible for 60 percent of the fungal infections acquired in hospitals, killing one in three people with a bloodstream infection. Comparing Candida’s shape-shifting ability to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Koehler considered the fungus particularly dangerous because of its ability to change forms. When immunity is low, Candida can take over, and a systemic infection can quickly become lethal.

Source: https://bodyecology.com/articles/unknown_health_epidemic.php

Since Candida Albicans, is in my opinion, one of the major causes of our current obesity epidemic, the next two chapters will deal with it in more detail and provide the strategies needed to bring the overgrowth back under control. And the eating programme to limit its access to the food it thrives on; Sugar.

You can find the previous posts in this series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

©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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

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

Smorgasbord Health Column… Rocking motion is not just soothing for babies and benefits of #sleep


We generally associate rocking with babies to encourage them to sleep but in fact it is good for all of us, and perhaps time to retire to a hammock.

My father joined the Royal Navy in 1935 and in the barracks he first encountered a hammock and said it was one of the best night’s sleep he ever had. On a boating trip with friends about 20 years ago, with sleeping accommodation space at a premium, I slept in a hammock on deck and despite the attentions of seagulls early in the morning, I loved it.

Recent research has reinforced this and also found some interesting correlations between our brain health and the action of rocking. And I suspect that having a friend do the rocking for you also is beneficial!

Two new studies featured in Science Daily, one conducted in young adults and the other in mice, add to evidence for the broad benefits of a rocking motion during sleep. In fact, the studies in people show that rocking not only leads to better sleep, but it also boosts memory consolidation during sleep.

Anyone who has ever put a small child to bed or drifted off in a gently swaying hammock will know that a rocking motion makes getting to sleep seem easier. Now, two new studies reported in Current Biology on January 24, one conducted in young adults and the other in mice, add to evidence for the broad benefits of a rocking motion during sleep. In fact, the studies in people show that rocking not only leads to better sleep, but it also boosts memory consolidation during sleep.

“Having a good night’s sleep means falling asleep rapidly and then staying asleep during the whole night,” says Laurence Bayer of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. “Our volunteers — even if they were all good sleepers — fell asleep more rapidly when rocked and had longer periods of deeper sleep associated with fewer arousals during the night. We thus show that rocking is good for sleep.”

Further studies showed that rocking affects brain oscillations during sleep. They saw that the rocking motion caused an entrainment of specific brain oscillations of non-rapid eye movement sleep (slow oscillations and spindles). As a result, the continuous rocking motion helped to synchronize neural activity in the thalamo-cortical networks of the brain, which play an important role in both sleep and memory consolidation.

You can read the full report HERE

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for a number of health reasons and here is a post that explains why.

The Power of Sleep

Sleep is as vital to humans as breathing, drinking water and following a healthy diet. We need exercise and movement throughout the day, to keep us supple and fit, but you cannot run any operating system for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for 70 or 80 years without carrying out essential maintenance.

If we are doing our bit, we should be providing the body with the raw materials it needs to process, manufacture and rebuild our bodies internally and externally. For many of us, however, the ingredient our bodies are deprived of most is sleep.

During the day, our normal activities help our bodies to excrete toxins but the body also needs time to heal, rejuvenate and rest. Most of the day our body is focusing on keeping you upright and able to accomplish every task you set yourself, including providing you with a functional immune system. At night your body can concentrate on cleansing and restoring all the operating functions, ready for the next day.

For example: the heart normally beats 82 times in a minute.

That is 4,920 times an hour – 118,080 times a day – 826,560 times a week – Almost 43 million heartbeats a year.  That is a huge amount of work for the organ that keeps us alive!

However, when we are asleep our hearts beat at around 60 beats per minute, or lower. This means that for 8 hours of the day our heart will beat 28,800 instead of 39,360 times, which is a saving of 10,560 for those down time hours.

If you multiply that over a year you will be saving nearly 4 million heartbeats. Take that in relation to our life-span  of an average of 80 years, and your heart will have to work 320 million heartbeats less, saving wear and tear on this vital organ.

The same principal applies to the rest of the body and its operating systems. Your lungs will work less as your breathing slows during the night. Your muscles will rest and recuperate and your brain will undergo diagnostic tests and repairs while you sleep.

Most mental disorders, including depression and Alzheimer’s, are linked to various sleep disorders, some resulting from drugs used to control the disease or from changes in parts of the brain that normally regulate sleep patterns. There are also some concerns that sleep aids, particularly prescribed medication used long term may result in mental impairment. (As always do not stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.)

Our dream states are important as it is part of your brain’s downtime function as it sorts information, filing and in some cases deleting unimportant information or spam, much as we do with our computers.

Going without sleep affects hormonal balance, and therefore our mood and stress levels. The glands that produce these hormones, such as the adrenal glands, are on constant alert and have no chance to rest and rejuvenate. As in the case of a rowdy neighbour it is “one up, all up”. The knock-on effect of having all these hormones rampaging around the body is that nobody gets any rest, leading to physical, mental and emotional problems.

Performance levels will decrease without proper sleep and our reactions and internal processes will be impaired. Research has shown that sleep deprivation has the same effect on driving performance as taking alcohol or drugs. People who do not get enough sleep become increasingly less sensitive to certain chemical reactions within the body and in the case of insulin this increases the risk to developing both diabetes and high blood pressure.

If you are tired then your body is trying to tell you something

Taking a nap is actually a way to catch up on your missing sleep. The most natural time for a nap is 8 hours after you have woken up in the morning and 8 hours before you go to bed. This way it is unlikely to affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Even 20 minutes can actually revitalise you and rest your body ready for another 8 hours of activity.

Make yourself comfortable, loosen your clothes and just close your eyes. Even if you do not fall asleep your body will relax and everything from your muscles to your brain will benefit.

Getting to sleep at night

Unless you are Mediterranean, and used to eating late at night from childhood, avoid having dinner just before you go to bed. The recommended interval between eating a heavy meal is at least three hours. I have no idea how anyone can go out for a night drinking, eat a curry and go to bed and not suffer a dreadful night’s sleep.

Alcohol can be a stimulant and whilst excessive amounts may make you sleepy it is going to wake you up four hours later with a raging thirst and a thumping headache. Once in while you may get away with it, but if it is the norm you will become seriously sleep deprived.

Sitting up too late, watching an action thriller is not the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep. Those of us who have dogs who need walking benefit from both the physical activity and the fresh air before hitting the pillow and if you can safely take a stroll at night then it is an excellent idea.

Make sure that there is plenty of airflow in the bedroom and sleep in comfortable clothes. I have no idea how people manage in button up pyjamas as they must be so restrictive and you will be moving around quite a bit at night and getting tangled up in both bedclothes and your nightie is going to disturb you.

I find that, however late I go to bed, reading a few pages of a book is guaranteed to help me drop off. Many people have discovered their own sleep triggers over the years, including warm baths with Epsom salts, herbal teas such as Kava Kava and Valerian, and gentle music that drowns out the noise of neighbours, or a snoring partner.

Earplugs can be very useful, particularly if you are sharing a bed with a snorer, although you may miss the alarm clock in the morning.

If you are going to bed at more or less the same time every night you will find, within a very short space of time, you will wake at about the same time every morning. In fact, it is a good idea to follow the same sleep patterns all week rather than opt for a lie in at the weekend. It establishes a healthy downtime for the body and does not confuse it for two days every week.

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and research is increasingly showing that it is also vital for the development of our brains. Children who do not get sufficient sleep will develop behavioural and learning difficulties as well as compromise their immune systems and future health.

Keeping your children up with you late at night is not healthy. They need far more sleep than we do during their rapid growth spurts. Make sure that they have a nap during the day about half way through their active hours and get them into the habit of getting at least 10 hours sleep per night. When they are very young you will obviously be waking them for feeds and then for potty training but you must always try and ensure that they are kept calm and are put back down as quickly as possible. This will also be healthier for you as this is the time when most parents are likely to suffer from sleep deprivation. The next crisis for those of you with teenagers is when they fail to return before 2.00 in the morning.

Stages of sleep

There are a number of different stages of sleep and it is important that you go through the entire cycle to reap all the benefits.

There are two main phases. In phase one you will be going through Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep or NREM. There are different stages within this phase which naturally lead you to phase two or Rapid Eye Movement sleep or REM.

Phase one NREM

Stage One. This is the lightest stage of sleep and although your main senses are turned down they are not off completely and you can be disturbed by certain noises such as snoring, dogs barking or doors slamming.

Stage Two. If you get into this stage you will fall deeper asleep and your heart rate and temperature will begin to level out and drop. This stage represents about half your night’s sleep.

Stage Three and Four are the deepest stages of NREM and represent about 15% of your night’s sleep. Your breathing will slow; your temperature will drop further as will your blood pressure.

Phase two REM

After about 30 minutes in stage four NREM sleep you begin to move back to stage one and two where your brain will become more active and you will begin to dream. If you are woken up at this point in the cycle you are likely to remember the dream you were experiencing at the time. If you have reached one of the NREM stages then you are not as likely to recall anything when you wake up.

This cycle of phase one and two takes approximately 90 minutes and then begins again. To really benefit from this combination of rest and activity you need to complete at least 5 cycles during the night. This adds up to approximately 8 hours of sleep. If you only manage one or two cycles then your brain and body will not have completed its cleansing process and you will feel tired. If this becomes the norm you will begin to notice the symptoms of sleep deprivation.

Sleep is as essential as air, water and food and if you are not currently enjoying a good night’s sleep then you need to work towards finding a solution.

And that might well be investing in a hammock….even if it is only for the exercise!

©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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

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

 

Smorgasbord Short Story – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Broken by Sally Cronin


Now that I have scheduled more time to write, I thought that I might join the many participants of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge under the dedicated management of Charli Mills. It is a great exercise in brevity and I am looking forward to challenging myself.

Here is this week’s challenge.

January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 29, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form Rules & Guidelines.

And here is my response...

She swept up the broken glass, briefly regretting throwing the vase across the room. It had missed its target, thankfully, since going to prison for murder was not the best start to a new life of freedom. It had been a wedding gift from her dead mother-in-law, who had never thought her good enough for her precious son. Sunlight streaming into the room was captured by a large shard that sparkled with brilliance, as if celebrating its release from the confines of the vessel. She laughed; perhaps the old girl was sending her approval from above at long last.

©Sally Cronin

I hope you will head over and participate in the challenge too: https://carrotranch.com/2019/01/25/january-24-flash-fiction-challenge

You can find out more about my books and their reviews: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column and Memories – 1998 – New Home, Meeting Sam, a Health food Shop and Shania Twain


It is now 1998 and after six months of living in a rented house in  Sandymount in Dublin, we start looking for a permanent home. The house prices at the time were steep in the capital and part of the reason was that the country was enjoying what was termed the Celtic Tiger with funds from the EU pouring in. The benefits were enormous with new road and rail connections being constructed that were opening up the country as never before.

To give you an example of how those early construction projects impacted travel in Ireland, what used to take five hours to drive between south Dublin and Wexford through all the towns along the route, only takes two hours today.

In 1999 the motorway stopped at just past the airport, and commuting times from further out into the centre of Dublin were long and on minor roads. However, as I was house hunter in chief and having experienced the massive mortgage required to live in London and not wishing to repeat that; I looked further afield. Checking the estate agents listings in the major papers, I found a property that looked intriguing.

Down a farm lane about 4 kilometres south of the town of Drogheda in County Louth, and  about 6 kilometres to the long sandy beach at Bettystown, the detached house sat in the middle of two acres. The front and part of the rear garden had been cultivated with hundreds of bushes and trees and the last half acre at the back had been left to wild meadow.

The good news was that it was a third of the price of a property in Dublin and even better when David came to see the house on the second visit, he fell in love with it too. He accepted that his commute would be 90 minutes, but he was used to leaving early to get to the office and avoiding the worst of the traffic and we agreed that the house and the price was too good to pass up.

Our offer was accepted and for the first 6 weeks I would travel up from Dublin each day decorating the entire house before moving into our new home in the April, finally getting our furniture and belongings out of storage.

A new family member

We had both been working full-time or been living abroad so had waited 18 years before considering getting a dog. I had been the slave to two Lassie Collies before and had already picked out a name 16 years before when we first discussed having a dog at some point. He would be called Sam.

Trouble was it was difficult to find one locally in the area, but my father-in-law Geoff, lived opposite a well known and respect judge of dog shows in Ireland. He asked her for a recommendation and she gave me the name of a breeder about 20 miles north of where we lived. I rang them and told me that their champion stud dog had just sired a litter of pups only 8 kilometres from us. Following a telephone call with that breeder, I raced over and was introduced to a beautiful female collie and her three babies. Two girls and a boy, just three weeks old. I picked him up and held him under my chin and I received a welcoming lick.

I paid for him on the spot and told his owner that he would be called Sam so that over the next five weeks until I could take him home they could start getting him used to his name. I took David to meet him when Sam was six weeks old, and fortnight later on July 1st, we proudly brought him home. As an aside, the breeder had a two year old daughter, and she not only called our baby Sam, but the other two as well. I can only imagine their confusion when they went to their new homes and were given new names.

Sam was very articulate and when he was ten years old he wrote his own story with a little help from his slave!

A new business.

The next big event of the year was the purchase of my own business in Drogeda. An established health food shop where I also opened the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre. I was very lucky that the daughter of the previous owner agreed to stay on and manage the shop so that not only could I start to work with clients, but I could work the hours that enabled me to spend time with Sam. I had begun training him for this day from an early age, by leaving him for a few minutes at a time and then returning for a game. By the time I started seeing my new clients in the New Year he could be left for three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon during the week and then had the fun of David home all day on Saturday.

We ended the year on a very high note as a family, having added an old feral cat called Henry, now Sam’s best friend. They would remain close for the rest of Henry’s life.

Now for the music part of the post…I had plenty of time to listen to music when commuting between Dublin and the new house and then during the decorating phase, and when Sam was fully vaccinated he and I would hit the beach twice a day at Bettystown and we always had music in the car. There were some great hits that year to enjoy.

Cher with Believe, My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith, My All by Mariah Carey, Heartbreak Hotel by Whitney Houston, No Matter What by Boyzone and Millennium by Robbie Williams. I was also introduced to Canadian singer Shania Twain’s music by my young shop manager and one of her hits that year is still on my playlist today along with many of her songs. Courtesy of her official Youtube: Shania Twain

You can buy Shania Twain Music: Music Amazon

If you would like to read more about Sam then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com for an Kindle or Epub copy… no review expected.  I just enjoy sharing his story.

 

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Recognition – Our place in a modern society by Sally Cronin


In January 2016 I began a series that I was intending to publish as a book but since it has been languishing… I have decided to re-run since it is three years since it was last posted.

The title came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In the original series there was an introduction, but I am skipping that to dive straight into what I believe is becoming extinct in many areas of our world and our own lives…..

Simple Definition of recognition http://www.merriam-webster.com

The act of accepting that something is true or important or that it exists

Recognition

As a young manager over forty years ago, I was tasked to manage an established team who were all at least twenty years older than I was. I had already run my own business and also managed good-sized teams in the catering industry, but this was daunting. Thankfully I had been lucky enough to have worked for a wonderful manager, when beginning my career, who had given me a valuable piece of advice. That was to identify as quickly as possible, what motivated an individual member of staff and to develop a relationship based on the recognition of that motivation.

I followed that advice all through my career and discovered that it also applied to working with those who managed me. Outside of my career it has certainly been an important factor in my personal life too.

Certainly as writers we face the challenge to get noticed on a daily basis, as our books or blog posts join the millions of other titles or articles uploaded hopefully to the various platforms.We know how special it feels when someone, likes, comments and shares our posts or buys and reviews our books, and that feeling of recognition is exhilarating and motivating. Along with Respect, recognition is one of the key elements to a person’s sense of worth. And this is irrespective of age, and even more important in my opinion, for children.

This is not to say that I believe telling a child or an adult they are fabulous every five minutes is an effective way to give them self-worth. It needs to be in response to an action or thought that is made by them. That might be small in the case of a child as they take their first steps towards the real world. But each recognition of an achievement builds their self-confidence based on their efforts that will stand them in good stead once they get to school and then in a work environment.

We tend to regard the act of recognition as being associated with the workplace, show business, the military and other public services. We are accustomed to watching award shows such as The Oscars and The Baftas where actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers etc, are recognised for exceptional performances or productions. We also honour the fact that those who serve in the armed forces, or are first responders, are awarded medals for bravery or long service. We are also accustomed to seeing those in public life or who have supported charities, mentioned in annual honours in our individual countries.

However, we sometimes forget how important recognition is for those who are much closer to us. Unfortunately one of the downsides to our technological world, is that it can be difficult to keep our daily lives in perspective and to identify what is the norm.

We have become saturated with the relentless onslaught of visual images presented to us on television, both in the dramas and the ‘reality’ shows. The one common theme is that they are produced to provide ‘dramatic effect’. Even the so called reality shows are edited to accentuate the extreme highs and lows that the human participants experience. That can, after an extended period of time, alter our view of our own lives.

In some cases of course, this is not a bad thing if it inspires us to achieve more, learn more and experience more of life. But there can be a detrimental impact of this in my opinion, and that is the creation of unrealistic expectations. We begin to feel that we are entitled to those extremes of emotion. That we have a right to live at that pace, enjoy the jet set lifestyle, wear the latest designer clothes, meet great looking people and have wildly romantic and passionate love affairs.

Real life is not actually like that. Neither usually are the people that are close to us in our family or amongst our friends. There might be the odd person who seems to be a little ‘out there’ in some respect, but generally we are surrounded by people who live, work and love in an attempt to make a good life for themselves and their families.

However, that does not mean that those around us do not desire recognition. Each day we perform hundreds of tasks, some are specifically for ourselves, but most are for others. It is these seemingly small gestures that are going unnoticed, and can actually result in disastrous outcomes for relationships in all areas of our lives.

I talked about courtesy and respect in the last post, but it is worth repeating, that the simplest and one of the most effective forms of recognition, for those seemingly small and inconsequential gifts of time or effort given to us, is ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Even if it is a family member who you expect to cook, clean up after you, pay the bills, pick you up from school or work and who is always there in the background.

We are all unique when it comes to which form of recognition we enjoy. This is where you need to get to know each person individually, and to be fair, most of us do that. We choose birthday and Christmas gifts specifically for a person according to their interests or passions. We might prepare a favourite meal to give them a break from cooking everyday, take them out for dinner from time to time, buy them tickets for a concert or sporting event, or plan a surprise weekend away.

Some people hate being publicly praised and prefer a quiet word of gratitude, whilst others like nothing more than a public pat on the back. In our personal lives the same applies and I have seen people cringe when their partner thanks them publicly, but glow when they are brought flowers or taken out for a meal.

However, as a relationship settles into its rhythm, it is very easy to slip into a routine and to assume that recognition of your partner’s contribution to your life, is automatically accepted by them, and that less effort is required.

It is actually very easy to take things for granted. I covered some of that lack of awareness in my chapter on respect. It applies to both our own actions and the actions of others.

As part of my role as a nutritional counsellor over the years, I have met both men and women whose weight and health issues are the result of a lack of worth. For example; we all laugh when we hear the expression ‘my wife does not understand me‘ but in fact that statement applies equally to husbands as well.

I have had many a discussion with an under-appreciated wife and mother who has dived into comfort eating to find the appreciation due to her. There appears to be a misconception about the role of a mother and a father in a family and their expanded list of tasks from cleaner to taxi-driver and breadwinner to bank. There is also the expectation placed on parents by society and dare I say sometimes their own parents about how they should bring up their children. Very stressful at times and sometimes thankless.

Certainly one of the most effective skills to learn as far as I can identify is delegation. When a child is old enough to participate in chores around the house it provides them with life skills that they will need when they are out in the world on their own. It is also is amazing, how  mutual recognition for the effort that goes into performing everyday tasks, forges stronger relationships.

Sometimes it is difficult to find the words or deed to show your recognition.

On one illuminating occasion a man came into my centre and asked for gift vouchers for my weight loss programme to give his wife for their silver wedding anniversary. I didn’t normally sell gift vouchers, as it is customary for an individual to decide that they needed to lose weight, and come to me of their own accord.

So I asked the guy in and asked him if his wife was aware that he was going to give her weight loss sessions for this very special milestone in their married life. He responded that she did not, but since she was always saying that she felt fat; she would love the gift! He also added that he felt unsure how to respond when his wife did go on about being overweight and was afraid to comment.

I suggested that he spend the money he had planned on spending on the weight loss sessions on a spa day for his wife with the full works from top to toe. Give her an anniversary card with some money to go spend in a clothes shop, and then for their actual anniversary, book a table in their favourite restaurant to show her off. Oh and not to tell her she looked ‘fine’ but ‘fabulous’.

He did come back to me a couple of months later and booked some weight loss appointments for himself, as he said his wife had started swimming three times a week and was looking amazing; he wanted to make sure he did not let her down!

It is not necessary to go overboard all the time with recognition, as it should be something that is regarded as special and heartfelt. Saying ‘I love you’ ten times a day can dilute the meaning behind the emotion, but you can show someone you love them ten times a day in many different ways.

Being invisible.

Earlier I shared the much over used expression “My wife doesn’t understand me!” and there is another you might have heard from someone you are close to “I feel invisible”. Those words or others that have a similar context, are signs that perhaps you need to take a look at how you recognise their contribution to your life. And if you feel that you are not being seen within a relationship, you should consider ways to gently remind those around you that you are very visible and vital to their well-being.

This applies to our extended family and friends too.. They are the ones who are usually there during life’s ups and downs, when we are ill, or when our hearts are broken, lose a job or simply cannot get up in the mornings. They are also there when we celebrate life in all its glory as we get that amazing job, fall in love, have a baby, grow old disgracefully!

What is important is that between those two extremes, when life is sailing along on an even keel for us, that we still recognise their value to us by random acts of kindness that make them feel valued.

Recognition is not always glitz and glamour on the worldwide stage, but is more often a quiet word or simple act of appreciation that will sustain and develop a relationship that will support and delight you for life.

They say that it is much more satisfying to give than to receive. Certainly gifting someone recognition will bring you far more in return.

©Sally Cronin 2019

You can find other posts in the Something to Think About series as well as previous chapters of The R’s of Life: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

As always I love to receive your comments and experiences.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health – Size Matters – The Sequel – Chapter One – Life or Death? by Sally Cronin


This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and will be re-released later in the year. Although it contains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 20 years.

Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book. Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

You can read the introduction to the series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

Chapter One – Life or Death?

Whatever people might say, size does matter. It matters when you can no longer take a bath because you can’t get out of it unaided. It matters when an entire plane load of passengers hear you ask for an extension for your seat belt. It matters when you are in a restaurant and get stuck in your chair, to the point where you are in danger of taking it with you when you leave. It matters when you are too embarrassed to take off your clothes in front of anyone, including yourself.

A snapshot of where the obesity epidemic is now.

According to a number of reports, there are currently 50,000 + super morbidly obese men and women termed as ‘shut ins’. They are so obese they are unable to go out of their homes, are usually bedridden and have multiple health issues. Their obesity does not just result in their own catastrophic circumstances. It also has a life-changing impact on their families who have to adopt the role of carers.

In a recent series on the subject, it was interesting to note that one of the causes of their obesity is the food that most of the well-meaning family carers are feeding them. High fat and sugar processed meals several times a day and without activity there is only one result, increased weight. Interestingly in one of the programmes that I watched, the mother whose two daughters were already morbidly obese underwent a stomach reduction. She lost weight in the following months, but it appeared that she was eating the same foods, only less. There seemed to be little nutritional change or education and her daughters did not lose weight alongside her as they were still consuming the same piles of high calorie foods as before.

To me this is a very serious and clear indication that the obesity epidemic is already with us and like a giant oil tanker at sea, will take a great deal of time to stop and reverse. Too little and too late, the governments are making ineffective efforts to halt the alarming trend. And I do understand that it is difficult to know where to start with education of parents and children. This is just one aspect that needs immediate action, since the industrial food manufacturers have a hold on us with their addictive chemical concoctions that are listed in smaller and smaller print on the labels .

My successful attempts to put on weight.

I have always been very successful at is putting on weight. I love food: the taste, the texture and the satisfied feeling at the end of a wonderful meal. My problem has been that I have always enjoyed most things to excess. At certain times in my life I have drunk too much alcohol, smoked too many cigarettes, and by the age of forty-three had eaten myself into a size 30 pair of jeans at a weight of 330 lbs. (150 kg).

The trouble was that being large seemed to fit my personality. At six foot tall, at my top weight, I was almost as big around. People used to say that I could carry the weight and still look smart. I spent a great deal of money on clothes, always looking for that outfit that would make me feel better about my appearance. I mostly wore black or navy-blue, but occasionally I would defiantly buy something white or bright and cheerful for the summer.

To the outside world I appeared to be fat, happy and super-efficient at work. Nobody knew about the tears when I saw myself naked in the mirror, nobody saw me starving myself all day and then raiding the refrigerator late at night, stuffing myself in an eating frenzy. I was someone who cracked jokes at my own expense to make people laugh. They would have been horrified to see the real me, so I kept it hidden.

As far as other people knew, my diet consisted of cereal for breakfast, a salad sandwich for lunch, and chicken and vegetables at night. That was actually true. What was equally true was that I consumed vast quantities of food in secret. On the way to work there would be a stop at the drive-through for two breakfast rolls. There would be at least five chocolate bars throughout the day, fried ham-and-cheese sandwiches, a tub of rich ice cream and a takeaway most week-nights. I was in control of many parts of my life, such as my job and my relationships, but I was out of control with regard to my own body and my eating habits.

Then the nosebleeds started. Sitting in a meeting or watching television, I would suddenly feel the blood seeping from my nose. I had enough common sense to know that I was in serious trouble and, although I tried to ignore the signs that my body was failing, deep inside I knew things could not go on much longer.

The crunch came when I went home to Portsmouth for my parents’ fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. My father, who was nearly eighty and suffering from both cancer and a blood disorder, looked healthier than I did. I sat bolt upright in the only chair in the room, since getting onto and then off a sofa was beyond me at this point. I was wearing an expensive new outfit, which, on reflection, resembled a brightly coloured circus tent covering me from head to toe. My mother and father had prepared a beautiful buffet lunch. I visited the table two or three times and was aware of a number of pairs of eyes watching the amount of food I put onto my plate. I am sure that my mother was more than a little concerned about her elegant little chair, which creaked every time I sat down.

Later that day, as I drove along the motorway on my return to London where we were living at the time, I suddenly began to cry. Luckily there was a service station nearby and, pulling into an isolated part of the car park, I cried my eyes out. I honestly believed that my life was over. I blamed everything and everyone, hating myself and, for the first time in my life, contemplating suicide. At that point, I was not even considering how much pain I would cause my husband, who has loved and supported me always, or my family. I did not value my lovely home or have any belief in a compelling future. All I could see was a fat, middle-aged woman with a bloated face and an awful sense of failure.

Eventually I got back on the road again but when I got home that evening it was to any empty house as my husband was away in America on business. Most of the night I spent wallowing in self-pity, grieving for what I felt was missing in my life. Thankfully, I did nothing to hurt myself further. I say ‘further’ because I already had several years of self-destructive overeating behind me. And that is the point. I was responsible for what I put in my mouth. At this point I laid the blame squarely at my own door and it was only later on my search for answers did I discover that other factors should also shoulder some of the burden.

That day was one of the lowest points in my life. I was a forty-two year-old, morbidly obese woman with a very limited future unless I could dig myself out of this massive hole I had dug myself.

Today I am sixty-six and whilst not quite as slim as I was when I had lost all my excess weight, I am still healthy enough not to need medication for any of the usual middle-aged or obesity related health conditions. For the last twenty-four years I have continued to study and research obesity and work with others to help them unlock the doors that held me prisoner for most of my adult life.

Working with others has also kept me focused in a way that I might not have been otherwise.
However I am not perfect, and there have been times in the last 15 years particularly when stress nearly brought me back to the brink again. Thankfully I now have the mental and emotional tools to be able to pull back from going over the edge, but the process is ongoing.

As others who have lost very large amounts of weight have found, it is easy to slip back into bad habits, and it takes willpower and determination to keep the pounds off. It does not help that effort, when the foods that some of us crave with high fat and sugar content, are everywhere and available night and day if we need them.

At 330lbs, my dietary history was littered with fad and starvation diets that resulted in rebounding weight every time. When I reached rock bottom and felt completely powerless, I knew that if I went on another crash diet, I would just end up putting on more weight than ever. I needed to learn why this was so. I had to learn, and learn fast, what it was that compelled me to eat and eat, when I had so much else of value in my life.

There was something fundamentally wrong with the way I had approached my weight problem. I wasn’t sure if it was physical, mental or emotional, but I had to find out and fix it.

I had a very powerful incentive. I had to save my life.

©SallyGeorginaCronin Size Matters 2001 – 2019

Next time – Chapter Two – A Good Place to Start.

You can read the introduction to the series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Who is referring others to your blog? Guests, music and laughter


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed.

This week I got back into the swing of things and began the 2019 book promotions and the first of the Sunday Interviews. It was a terrific break but very happy being back to normal.

As always a huge thank you to my regular contributors and guests as well as the support on social media. Whilst managing the various platforms is time consuming and sometimes distracting, it was interesting to see, when I looked at the year’s analytic data, where the most referrals were generated from.

At the top end of the list and accounting for approximately 50% of the referrals out of 221,000 views:

  1. WordPress Reader.
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Yahoo.com
  5. Other search engines.

The other 50% were referrals from individual bloggers.

This confirms a few things to me:

  1. That WordPress Reader is a very powerful promotional tool for promoting not just our own posts but also when we reblog and ‘press’ posts we enjoy by other bloggers. Since people browse the Reader looking for posts that are interesting, it is well worth making sure you titles and the short summary at the top of your post catch their eye.
  2. That my time spent on Twitter and Facebook is not wasted!
  3. That using key words and tags on blog posts gets results from search engines. (but need to do better)
  4. That connecting and becoming part of a supportive community is essential to the success of a blog.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share the posts this year directly to their own blogs which resulted in referrals and to all of you who took the time to like, share on social media and comment.

This week William Price King shared the life and music of the legendary Duke Ellington.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-jazz-duke-ellington/

This week Carol Taylor shares her favourite recipes of 2018… and they look delicious.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-column-with-carol-taylor-favourite-dishes-of-2018/

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies shares a recap of her 2018 travel column with a reminder of the places you might like to visit on vacation.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-recap-take-a-look-before-you-book-your-summer-holiday-with-d-g-kaye/

Welcome to the first of a new season of Getting to Know You and my first guest for 2019 is Australian author Frank Prem who has recently released a collection of poems and short stories about his childhood – Small Town Kid.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-author-frank-prem/

I was delighted to review Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration by Colleen M. Chesebro.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/smorgasbord-book-reviews-fairies-myths-and-magic-a-summer-celebration-by-colleen-m-chesebro/

I wrote the original Size Matters in 1998 about my 150lb weight loss… I did update when the book went digital but that was several years ago. After working as a nutritional therapist for the last 20 years, and having continued to research and study food and its role in our health, I decided that it was time to write the sequel. 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/smorgasbord-health-size-matters-the-sequel-after-20-years-by-sally-cronin-introduction/

It is 1996 and it is a year of change with a move to Brussels and Anthony Robbins Life Mastery.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-1996-a-year-of-change-and-celine-dion/

I am had fun with Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 118 with the synonyms this week of ‘Begin’ and ‘Fresh’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebro-tuesday-poetry-challenge-week-118-etheree-initiate-and-crisp/

It is now 1986 and both David and my father have their birthdays back to back. We are also making plans for a day trip and a much longer road trip over to New Mexico.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-houston-1986-birthdays-and-plans/

New on the shelves this week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-sciencefiction-fantasty-voyage-of-the-lanternfish-by-c-s-boyack/

Author update with recent reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-don-massenzio-marcia-meara-and-teri-polen/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-bette-a-stevens-jane-risdon-and-christina-jones-sally-cronin/

The Gentle Detox

As part of a gentle detox it is useful to employ the power of nature as a cleanser for your liver and kidneys. Dandelion is powerful and has many health benefits.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-tool-box-water-retention-dandelion-by-sally-cronin/

It is a good idea to complete a gentle detox to find out what food triggers or environmental contaminants might be causing you to suffer from allergies or health issues.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-health-column-the-gentle-detox-food-intolerances-nightshade-family-and-environmental-toxins-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-my-archives-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-snitching-cheating-failing-and-a-change-of-career/

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your continued support. It keeps me motivated to keep writing.. thanks Sally.