Smorgasbord Health Column – Health in the New – Obesity Research – Fat Accumulation Table by Sally Cronin

I probably wrote most of the excuses for my life threatening obesity in my 30s and 40s in my quest to blame anything and everything other than myself.

“It must be my genes” is one of the favourite excuses, and certainly used by many of my clients over the years. Unfortunately, whilst there may be a small proportion of people who do have a real genetic reason for their ability to put on weight, it is not applicable to the majority.

I originally lost 11 stone or 154lbs 22 years ago and there have been times when that weight has drifted back by a couple of stones, it is usually because I have also drifted back into bad habits.

There is no doubt that age and lack of activity do count for some of it. Our body’s systems are not as efficient, and we still feel we can get away with eating the same way we did 30 years ago. Provided you are still very active, that may well be the case, but you still need to keep an eye on the amount of food you are consuming.

Eating a diet that is fresh and cooked from scratch is a great start, but unfortunately even the finest of fresh meats and whole grains still contain calories.

However many ‘fad’ diets there are littering the Internet, you cannot get away from the fact that if you eat more than you expend in energy…. you put weight on.

I don’t believe in giving up any food group that supplies the wide variety of nutrients the body needs to be healthy.

But, you can have too much of a good thing.

You cannot eat unlimited healthy fats and not put on weight. You only need a moderate amount to achieve the nutritional benefits, and the same applies to wholegrain carbohydrates which are so essential for our energy levels.

You have to find the balance, as I have as I have become less active. Portion control is a pain, but it means that you can eat all the foods you enjoy but just less of them.

I have found Intermittent Fasting to suit me best, and eat between 11.00 or midday – to 7.00 or 8.00 pm. every day. I do have a glass of coconut water and tea first thing, which is not strictly within the guidelines, but does not seem to impact the end result.  I eat a good lunch but only have a light supper at night and always make sure that I leave three hours before going to bed. The digestive process for a light meal is complete, and I sleep a great deal better.

The health benefits to me, besides helping me get back down to my optimum weight is that I am not on any medication and my BP, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol are balanced.

This does not suit everyone… if you have an active job or lifestyle, you need to start the day with a good breakfast. The key is to find what suits you, gives you the nutritional requirements your body needs to do the job you demand of it, and maintains a healthy weight and fully functioning immune system.

The magic bullet for treating obesity is like the holy grail, and billions have been spent on finding a short cut to reducing people’s weight. Gastric bands, fasting, fat busters, diet shakes and sometimes harmful diet pills and potions.

At the end of the day slimming clubs are probably the most effective as they limit your intake of less healthy food, and instil willpower which works for many of their members.

At the end of the day, if you are overweight then you are doing yourself harm. Some may like to assure you, that you can still be fit and be severely overweight, but it is not the fat that you can see is the problem. It is the fat around your major organs, such as the heart that are dangerous.

I have written several series on healthy weight loss and will repeat them from time to time. However, one of the most effective weight loss tools that I put together for myself and my clients all those years ago was this table.

It shows you the accumulative factor of having two or more portions of particular foods regularly on your weight.  In most cases, simply halving the quantity of that food will achieve your healthy weight in a matter of months and perhaps in some cases a year.

It is important to remember that 1lb of fat lost a week is 52lbs/24kilo in a year which is usually what most people are looking to achieve. At the recommended weight loss of 2lbs per week that is 104lbs/ 48kilo in a year.

Take a look at the foods in the table and see if there are some that you are eating a little too much of. And if your favourite daily snack is not on the list… check out the calories and multiply by 365 and then divide by 3,500 (equivalent to 1lb of body fat) and see how much weight you could lose by halving the amount you eat over the year.

Obviously weight loss is assisted when you combine sensible portion control with some moderate exercise too.

A brisk mile walk a day accumulates to 36,500 calories per year or in body fat terms 10lbs.


Here are some of the recent studies on obesity.

Effect of genetic factors on nutrition: The genes are not to blame

Individualized dietary recommendations based on genetic information are currently a popular trend. A team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has systematically analyzed scientific articles and reached the following conclusion: There is no clear evidence for the effect of genetic factors on the consumption of total calories, carbohydrates, and fat. According to the current state of knowledge, the expedience of gene-based dietary recommendations has yet to be proven.

Overweight and obesity have become a global health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 39 percent of adults in EU countries have overweight. In Germany more than 50 percent of adults suffer from overweight, almost one fifth is according to the Robert Koch Institute currently considered obese. This is primarily due to the modern lifestyle which is characterized by low physical activity and high-calorie foods.

Also genetic factors play a role in the occurrence of obesity. To date, around a hundred genes (loci) have been identified which are related to the body mass index (BMI). However, the functioning of these genes as well as the biological mechanisms behind them are still largely unknown. The investigation of the relationship between genetic factors and nutrition can shed light on whether the genes which are linked to BMI play a role in nutrition.

You can read the rest of the report on how research is failing to implicate genes in the global obesity epidemic: Science Daily – Genes link to obesity.


Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity among people looking to shed extra kilograms and maintain a healthy weight. Researchers argue that this type of diet may also slow down aging and disease.

In intermittent fasting, what essentially takes place in the body is that one source of energy — which can facilitate the accumulation of body fat — is switched for another.

Our bodies run on glucose, or simple sugar, but when we fast for a longer period of time, that energy source becomes unavailable.

Our system needs to identify a different kind of “fuel.” That is when the body begins to convert certain types of body fat into fatty acids, which are easily absorbed by the blood.

Fatty acids, in turn, produce molecules called ketones, which the body uses as its new source of energy.

Stephen Anton, a researcher at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, calls this process “flipping the metabolic switch.”

“This switch,” explains Anton, “can happen after a certain period of time fasting. It’s a gradation in which your metabolism over time shifts to use higher and higher amounts of ketones for energy.”

He and his team were interested to learn more about how this switch occurs, and whether it could bring other health benefits, alongside weight management.

For this purpose, they reviewed numerous recent studies focused on the mechanisms and benefits of intermittent fasting.

The team’s review, published in the journal Obesity, suggests that intermittent fasting may be more healthful than other dieting strategies, as ketones put less stress on cells than the byproducts of other dieting styles.

Significant weight loss regardless of style 

Read more about the research and its conclusions: Medical News Today – Intermittent Fasting


Half of Britons will be obese by 2045 if current trends are not halted, according to new forecasts.

Experts said that without radical action the NHS will be “overwhelmed” – with one in eight suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The condition already costs the health service around £10 billion annually.

Almost one in three British adults are now estimated to be obese, according to the study. by University College London and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

And if trends continue, 48 per cent of adults will be classed as obese by 2045.

The figure is more than double the forecast global average of 22 per cent, with the US the only developed country predicted to fare worse, reaching 55 per cent.

Around 10 per cent of adults in the UK already have type two diabetes, which is closely linked to excess weight. And the data presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna suggests this will reach almost 13 per cent by 2045.

Read the rest of the article: Telegraph – Obesity forecast.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

I would love to connect to you on social media.

Google + :

You can find all my health posts this year in the directory:

I hope this has given you something to think about, not just in relation to your own health but that of your family. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – 84 million Americans and 100’s of millions worldwide are at risk of developing Diabetes

I posted on pre-diabetes two years ago, but the latest statistics are in and they make for very worrying reading. It is estimated that there are 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic and are at very high risk of developing full blown diabetes. CDC January 2018

According to the World Health Authority it is estimated that there are 400 million people worldwide with diabetes. In the US around 30 million and the UK approximately 3.8 million have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately it is the many millions who are undiagnosed that are at the greatest risk

You do not need to have full-blown diabetes to be suffering from some of the symptoms associated with the disease. There is a condition called pre-diabetes that can be managed with diet and exercise and does not have to lead to the development of type 2 diabetes in the future.

It is also called impaired glucose intolerance and in my experience very closely connected with lifestyle and diet and a possible overgrowth of Candida Albicans. Being overweight, not doing enough exercise and elevated LDL cholesterol levels are also part of the equation. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the HDL (high density lipoprotein) and because of this it is easier for the LDL to clump and form plaque in the arteries which will narrow them causing a blockage.

Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes

There are a number of symptoms that you might experience either singularly or in combination with one or more of the others.

  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Losing or gaining weight without much change to your diet
  • Feeling weak as if you might have the flu
  • Slow healing of cuts or bruises
  • Unexplained skin rashes
  • Bladder infections
  • Vision problems.

If pre-diabetes is tackled positively with food and exercise the symptoms can disappear in a few weeks and if the healthy approach is maintained there should not be any further reason for concern.

Unfortunately some people do not suffer any symptoms at all making this a silent disease and if this is the case it might not be detected until the person is suffering from full blown diabetes.

If you are at all concerned a simple blood test will identify if you are at risk and your Doctor of Pharmacy will talk you through the process. 

Taking the first step to avoiding the development of diabetes.

The evidence is very strongly pointing toward lifestyle and diet changes as being the most effective way of dealing with the problem and it is very easy to incorporate the right foods in an appetising way as part of a healthy programme. Even a 10% change to weight can make a huge difference and adding a brisk walk a day, five days a week for 30 minutes at least is also very important.

What are some of the dietary changes necessary.

Apart from getting to a healthier weight there are some other dietary changes you can make to reduce your blood sugar levels. There are certain foods that will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and I cover that in the second part of this subject where I look at the Glycemic value of foods and their effect on the body.

Fibre is important – Apart from the nutrients that wholegrains, fruit and vegetables supply they also contain great amounts of fibre necessary to clean the circulatory system of cholesterol plaque and toxins, keeping the blood clear of unnecessary additives.

Protein is essential and it should not be taken out of the diet. Protein does not have to come from animal sources but if you choose to be vegetarian then make sure you are including beans and fermented soya products for example.

It is our liver that is instrumental in determining our cholesterol levels in combination with certain foods. However, there are some myths surrounding certain foods such as avocados and eggs, which are very misleading.

Fat is absolutely necessary in our diets and there is no evidence to show that eating plant based fats, eggs and animal lean protein moderately causes high cholesterol. It is the hydrogenated fats found in processed protein such as hams, sausages and pastries and other processed prepared foods that are likely to cause a problem.

What about refined sugars and their role in our diet.

We live in a real world and as a Candida or pre-diabetes sufferer it would be pretty miserable without some sugar in your diet. However I do recommend that for the first six weeks you give up sugar completely except for a piece of low GI fruit each day.

The types of sweeteners used by food manufacturers are not natural and many are downright toxic. The one thing that I am definitely sure about is that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and acesulfame-k have no place in our food chain.


When you exercise your body uses insulin which controls your blood sugar levels. If you’re doing moderate exercise for a longer time, your muscles take up glucose at several times the normal rate. This is the type of exercise you should be aiming for.

Start slowly for 30 minutes walking slowly over a fixed distance and then increase you pace over the same distance until you are walking briskly, just slightly out of breath. Then increase your distance each week until you are walking a mile in 15 minutes.


The other recent trend is to demonise all carbohydrates including grains as being the culprits behind most of our modern ills. As with all food advice, one size does not fit all and I am not an advocate for cutting out all food groups entirely based on what is the trend at the moment. We need varying amounts of the main food groups as we get older and complete the transition to adulthood. However, there comes a time in later life when our digestive system is not so effective, when we need to increase certain food groups to ensure we are getting sufficient nutrients.

Our bodies have evolved over several hundred thousands of years. We were and still are opportunistic feeders. Whatever we could get our hands on. The biggest problem occurred when we no longer had to travel miles a day to either hunt or gather our food. That would have included seasonal game, fish, wild grains, berries and fruit, roots, honey etc. It would have been eaten raw until the discovery of fire and we would have not bothered cutting off the fat or counting the calories.

However, today we just have to pop into the car, drive to the nearest supermarket and fill our trollies with foods from all over the world, all year around. That is where ‘moderation’ comes in. Now that most of us, certainly in the western world have so much food available it is down to us to be careful about how much we consume of this bounty.

The glycemic value of the foods that we eat has an impact on our blood glucose levels and I have found that my clients following a lower glycemic approach to carbohydrates and the other foods have found it effective in maintaining a healthy level.


Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way when eaten. The Glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels.   Foods are ranked according to their effect in relation to pure sugar which would be 100.

So a food that is ranked at 50 has a much slower effect on blood glucose levels than sugar which causes a much faster reaction. The slower the reaction the less insulin is released into the bloodstream.

This results in less fat being stored, particularly around the hips and thighs.

A low Glycemic diet reduces the onset of dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels and therefore will regulate the feelings of hunger. In addition lower Glycemic foods are usually much higher in nutrients and fibre having an overall effect on health.

Low Glycemic Index foods are slowly digested, releasing sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream gradually, resulting in a slow and steady increase in blood sugar that helps keep your body functioning well for longer than high GI foods.

High Glycemic Index foods are quickly digested and metabolized, producing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It’s best to avoid these high GI foods that cause spikes in blood sugar that can result in your body “crashing” or feeling hungry again quite quickly after you eat.

LOW GLYCEMIC FOODS (under the value of 55) Can eat daily

  • Most Vegetables: asparagus, avocados, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots (small portion) cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce particularly rocket, mushrooms, onions (very important as they contain chromium which naturally controls blood sugar levels), Garlic, peppers, spinach squash and yams.
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, grapes, blueberries, cherries, lemons raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
  • Juices: apple, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato (unsweetened) small glass and add sparkling water to dilute.
  • Legumes: black, navy, pinto, and kidney beans; chickpeas; lentils; black-eyed peas
  • Starches: The key is to have a moderate portion and always have protein with it as this offsets the Glycemic affect. So for example:- porridge with milk (but not lots of sweeteners). Sandwich with chicken etc. Piece of toast with an egg. You must avoid white processed carbohydrates however and this includes biscuits, cakes and white bread as these are most likely to contain artificial sweeteners and trans-fats. I find that whole grain baguettes made in most large supermarket bakeries have few additives but check labels. Or make yourself
  • Milk products– cheese is wonderful but it is fattening – Milk in tea and on cereals is not a problem but if you are trying to lose weight then go easy when pouring. A piece of mature cheddar a couple of times a week if you are exercising and eating lots of vegetables and lean protein is not an issue – much better than eating a bar of chocolate. Fermented yoghurts may have some benefit on intestinal flora and help the digestive process – watch for sugar content – plain is quite boring but you can add nuts or a small amount of the low glycemic fruit to improve.
  • Sweeteners: I have used Stevia – I don’t particular advocate because I think it just feeds your sugar craving. I am suspicious of other artificial alternatives and if you can do without entirely. If not then like salt, use pinches of sugar to sprinkle on your cereal rather than a teaspoon, it will teach your taste buds to expect less!
  • Beverages –Start the day with hot water and fresh squeezed lemon. Not only does it hydrate, give your body a Vitamin C hit but it also gets the digestive process started, helps the liver and retrains your taste buds. You should find within a week that you no longer have a sugar craving. Tea is fine – green tea is excellent as it lowers blood sugar levels. Scientists are on the fence about coffee consumption – some research indicates that it might reduce blood sugar levels and others the opposite. My advice is if you enjoy a cup of coffee then get ground decaffeinated and have a cup every day and enjoy!
  • Protein. You need protein every day but not as much as people think. If you are eating yoghurts and drinking milk you will be obtaining protein but you can also eat 1 oz. cottage cheese – 1 egg – prawns – chicken – lamb, pork or fish per day. Avoid red meat as this can increase sugar cravings. Oily fish are good for you so try to eat three times a week this includes fresh sardines, salmon and tuna. I would suggest that you also use goat’s cheese and feta cheese as an alternative. Also in Spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
  • Salad dressings. Make your own with low fat yoghurt and lemon juice, or cider or balsamic vinegar and herbs.
  • Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Made up into 2oz packets and used for snacks – the healthy fat will act as a brake on the insulin production and will help with hunger pangs. Buy from a good source and make the mix yourself – unsalted of course. Find the right size zip lock bags and they will keep for ages. Take one to work with you as one of your snacks.
  • Oils– Very important to include extra virgin olive oil for dressings as this is a fat that is good for you. Would suggest that you also use this on bread rather than butter and mix with seasonings to use on vegetables and salads. For cooking use ordinary olive oil and I find that rather than frying, it is a good idea to brush some oil onto your meat, fish or poultry and bake in the oven.

MEDIUM GYLCEMIC FOODS(56 -69) eat two or three times a week.

  • Vegetables: white and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: bananas, tropical fruits (mango, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple), kiwi fruit, raisins, figs, fruit cocktail
  • Juices: orange,
  • Starches: cous cous
  • Cereals: oats, homemade muesli (without dried sugar) Weetabix.
  • Sweeteners: honey (Manuka honey can be consumed more often)

HIGH GLYCEMIC FOODS(above 70) eat very occasionally.

  • Fruits: watermelon, dates
  • Processed foods– It is important over the initial period to avoid processed sauces, meats, meals or anything else that might have hidden sugars or too many carbohydrates. Prepare everything fresh – for example pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.
  • Snacks: popcorn, rice cakes, most crackers (soda, Stoned Wheat Thins, Water Crackers), cakes, doughnuts, croissants, muffins, waffles, white bread, baguette, bagels
  • Starches: millet
  • Most Cereals: Bran Flakes, Cheerio’s, Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Special K, Total or any cereal that is sugar coated.
  • Sweeteners/Sweets: table sugar, hard candy, soft drinks, sports drinks, fizzy diet drinks, chocolate except for 2 squares of dark (85%) chocolate once or twice a week.
  • Alcohol. It is a good idea to give up alcohol all together for six weeks if you want to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Eating Patterns.

Personally I eat within an eight hour window every day which is a form of Intermittent Fasting that suits me best. This gives my body 16 hours each day to get on with what it needs to do in the way of processing the food I have eaten, extracting the nutrients and also allowing for some downtime for major organs such as the liver.

If you usually finish eating at 6.00pm then you can easily eat three balanced meals a day with a couple of snacks between if you need additional energy but they should be nuts, seeds and certain low GI fruits rather than chocolate bars.

This does not mean that if you enjoy chocolate that you cannot eat it. I have two squares of dark chocolate each day after my lunch. (Antioxidants).

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally




Let’s Walk a Marathon – Intermittent Fasting and new series of Cook from Scratch

I hope that those of you who are now measuring your exericise in terms of marathons are doing well. I continue to walk every day and I am also helping my fat burning (she says hopefully) by eating a moderate amount of protein with each meal and also continuing to practice Intermittent Fasting which is something I began in 2013 after reading the Fast Diet book by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer.

To be honest I am not an advocate for complete fasting over extended periods. Even under medical supervision I always feel that unless it is a method of eating that the body has developed over time, it can add more stress to the organs and our emotional response to food. Additionally those who embark on a fast unsupervised may have an underlying health problem that can cause serious issues. For very young people particularly teenagers this can be a very dangerous and complicated process that can result in not just physical damage but emotionally and mentally too. So first and foremost, do seek advice before contemplating any form of radical dieting.

Intermittent Fasting advocates claim that there are a number of health benefits outside of steady weight-loss. These include reversal of Type II diabetes.  Here is a summary.

  1. Blood levels of insulin drop which leads to more efficient fat burning
  2. Your body has downtime when it can initiate vital cellular repair.
  3. Blood levels of human growth hormone increase dramatically which also encourages fat burning.
  4. It is claimed that intermittent fasting increases your metabolic rate encouraging weight loss and reduction in fat in stubborn places such as the belly.
  5. Type II diabetes has responded well to intermittent fasting with a significant drop in fasting blood sugar levels and fasting insulin levels.
  6. Some research is indicating that intermittent fasting can benefit oxidative stress on cells and reduce inflammation.
  7. There are many studies into the benefits currently and new evidence is being published frequently and is worth keeping an eye open for.

For people who embark on Intermittent Fasting or IF – there are a number of programmes to choose from and because this is now the new dieting Buzz Word – or Words – I wanted to write about its application in this marathon challenge.

However, I am also keen to do so with not just the facts and figures gleaned from the various research I have undertaken in the last three years but with my own experience under my belt so to speak.

On the plane home from the UK in 2013 I read the Fast Diet which advocates the 5:2 approach where you eat sensibly but normally for five days a week. Then only 500 calories for a woman or 600 calories for a man for the other two days a week.

My willpower is pretty good when I make my mind up but certainly when I began this programme in the cold and wet months on our return to Madrid, eating a quarter of my calories two days in a row was not appealing, however I settled on Monday’s and Wednesdays for the next six weeks. It did help that there were plenty of fresh salad and vegetables available in Spain year round.

That was four years ago and in that time I have adapted the diet to suit my own circumstances. I only eat within an 8 hour window every day, seven days a week rather than the original five days on and two days off.  When combined with exercise I found that I was getting very tired on the off food days and then was hungrier on the on food days. I began to eat more.

As I mentioned earlier this year my weight began creeping on again last year and that was because my schedule of exercise and eating to a normal pattern was disrupted by a number of factors involved in our move back from Spain to Ireland. Once off track I found myself staying there and getting back into bad habits. The excuses that I thought I had packed away in a trunk in my brain’s attic started to make an appearance again.

For example.. jeez I am 63 years old… what can you expect!  Why deny myself some treats from time to time.. I am good the rest of the week!! 

I am sure you have your own set of go to reasons why you should not work at keeping your body healthy.

Anyway from my birthday in February this year when I turned 64 years old, I gave myself a damn good talking to. We invested in a new treadmill so that I could not use the wet weather as an excuse… I began some light weight training and I also went back to eating within an 8 hour window.

Thankfully that is now making a difference and I am happily back on the right track.

I still cook from scratch, have modified by carbohydrate intake so that I have wholegrains in smaller amounts at main meals and I don’t snack between meals. I exercise for the first time in the day around 10.30 and we have coffee and our Spanish Tostada at 11.30/12.00.(Recipe in the post tomorrow)

We eat our main meal around 2.00/2.30 which is always lean protein and lots of vegetables. For example.. Red cabbage and beetroot, green cabbage, cauliflower and carrots today with pork fillet.  David likes a raw salad and apart from celery, carrot, beetroot, lettuce, spring onions he also has half an avocado with his pork.

If we have been active in the garden then we might have a piece of wholegrain toast around 5pm with some tea or some fruit..I do my second session on the treadmill around 6.30pm .. a mile usually and then we have supper around 7.30pm. which is usually a sandwich for David and eggs on toast for me.  It varies of course.

That is not to say that there are not days when we might fit in an ice-cream or a scone and jam.. but within the 8 hours window.

If you are interested in reading the Fast Diet it is available in print, Kindle and audio:

The new series of cook from scratch begins tomorrow and I will be starting with our Spanish mid-morning breakfast.

If you have an queries about this challenge or about your nutritional needs then please  contact me on

Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter 8 – Fluids, Eating Patterns, Intermittent Fasting, Eating Out and the Demon Drink!


Chapter 8 Fluids, Eating Patterns, Intermittent Fasting, Eating out and the demon drink!

We are often told that we must drink at least eight glasses of water a day but we are not normally told why we should do this. The reason is that dehydration is a very simple way of killing ourselves. I had no idea how important it was to drink lots of water until I started doing research into my own health, and since then I have always taken plenty of fluids. It is good to know that, in fact, other fluids do count, so it is not necessary to drink eight glasses of straight water each day, although I find now that I quite enjoy drinking filtered or still mineral water, particularly when I am thirsty.

Below are some interesting facts that might persuade you to reconsider your drinking habits:

  • Our body consists of between 60% and 75% water.
  • Our bodies lose two litres of fluid each day through urination, in our breath and through our skin.
  • We require even more fluids in warm climates or if we have a high activity level.
  • Not drinking enough fluids puts a great deal of stress on the body: kidney function, particularly, will be affected and there is a danger of kidney stones and gallstones forming; the immune function will be impaired, leaving us more prone to infection.
  • Lack of water causes a number of problems that we tend to shrug off: such as headaches, or irritability – particularly first thing in the morning.
  • Children suffer from dehydration very quickly and this can sometimes be the cause of behavioural problems. Other symptoms are aching legs, water retention, poor skin tone, circles under the eyes, dull and lifeless hair, lack of energy and inefficient break-down of fats.
  • Drinking water actually helps prevent ‘water retention’. This is because our body knows that it will die very rapidly without fluids, so it keeps as much as it can in reserve.
  • Anyone who is taking medication on a continuous basis needs to ensure that their system is flushed out daily, in order to prevent a build-up of toxins in the cells, kidneys and liver.


Now we can see why water is so important. Here is something else to think about. Loss of skin tone. I lost around 154 lbs. (11 st, 70 kg) over two years initially and, while I think a tummy-tuck would be a good idea, I do not have folds of loose skin and my face has not sagged any more than is normal for my age. In fact, people comment favourably on my skin, despite all my years in the sun when I was a child and since living in Spain. I put this down to a healthier diet, walking and water. I am sure that these regimes explain the elasticity in my skin and I can assure you that I always have a bottle of water close at hand.

Water is essential: without it we die, yet many people are proud of the fact that they never touch the stuff! It was certainly something that I used to boast about. It is immensely important to get your children drinking water and natural low-sugar and diluted juices as soon as you can.

If you cannot stomach water, although this is by far the best way to take fluids, then look at herbal teas, vegetable juices and some caffeine-free teas such as green tea or Rooibos, both of which contain excellent anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants act a little like a vacuum cleaner. They travel through the body sucking up all the damaging free radicals that are causing damage to cells. Even ordinary tea has its benefits, although it is a mild diuretic, so make sure you also drink other fluids during the day.


Sweetened drinks

Do not give children diet drinks, and be sure to resist them yourself. I used to drink diet drink after diet drink, and half an hour later I would be desperate for another. Artificial sweeteners are as bad for you as sugar. They fool the body into thinking that you have taken in usable energy, whereas in fact it has received only one calorie. The body does not release any energy from the cells and you end up feeling tired, and desperate for your next fix. Artificial sweeteners are currently undergoing research because of concerns about possible links to a number of diseases including cancer. To be honest, drinking more than a medium glass of fruit juice is too much sugar each day. Eat fruit by all means but the concentrated juices are not recommended. If you enjoy them then squeeze your own and mix an alkaline juice with it such as carrot.  I usually dilute mine with some sparkling water and this is very refreshing.

Sugar in any form is not good for Candida sufferers. The only sugars that I recommend for people with Candida are the natural ones in fruit and honey. Our bodies have taken thousands of years to evolve, yet in the last few hundred years we have bombarded them with refined sugars, additives, preservatives, prescribed medication and environmental pollution. Enough. At the very least we should ensure that what we put into our bodies is as natural as possible, foods that our bodies are able to handle, such as the natural sugars in fruit and honey. If you are following the alternative treatment for Candida in the form of Grapefruit Seed Extract, you should be able to have some natural sugars without compromising the treatment.

How many times a day should I eat?

I have starved myself so many times that the question I used to ask was ‘how long can I manage to go without eating’? What I did not realise was that I was creating my own little mini-famine every time I went 24 hours or longer without food. Most days I would have a cigarette and a cup of coffee for breakfast, followed by six or seven cups of coffee during the day, and several hours later I might have some meat and a few vegetables. I was paranoid about eating after 6.00 p.m. unless I was going through one of my periods of bingeing, in which case I never stopped eating. Similarly, many of my clients will bemoan the fact that they ‘eat only once a day’, usually followed closely by ‘and I still can’t lose weight’.

If we use a car as an analogy, it is easy to see that a car’s engine has lots of moving parts. It requires fuel and objects most strongly to the wrong fuel being poured into its tank: it would come to a grinding halt if you put a pound of sugar in the tank. Clever thing: when it has the wrong fuel, it stops dead! Unfortunately, we do not stop immediately when we take in the wrong fuel. We keep going until an illness or infection comes along and forces us to stop for a while.

Like a car, our body has a constant requirement for fuel, but it has to be the right type of fuel and the mix is important. We use between 50 and 650 calories an hour, depending on our activity level, and we must have a continuous supply of fuel to enable us to function efficiently. Eating is like putting a cheque into the bank: it takes a while to clear. Often we can still feel hungry after a heavy meal. If we have not eaten earlier in the day and then have a lot of carbohydrates for lunch, we get that feeling of tiredness and lethargy. This is because we have the wrong fuel mix, where all our food is concentrated into one meal instead of being spread into other meals throughout the day.

I have experimented a great deal with meals and timings and I achieved my optimum fitness and energy levels when I introduced my body to the concept of six meals a day: breakfast, snack, light lunch, snack, main meal, snack. My blood sugar level stabilised, reducing the cravings in the late afternoon and evening, and my energy level stayed more or less constant throughout the day. I never felt hungry and I was able to complete my exercise regime at various times of the day without feeling tired.

Intermittent Fasting.

This was fine when I was losing weight as I was also exercising a great deal. Now that I am 20 years older and moderately active I have moved to Intermittent Fasting. Some refer to it as the 5:2 diet where you eat normally for five days and only eat 500 calories within 8 hours on the other two.  I admit that I found this tough so moved to eating my meals everyday within an 8 hour period.  Depending on your schedule and activities you can drop either breakfast or dinner in essence. I find that I am not counting calories.. I cook from scratch and eat between 11.00 or 12.00 until 7.00 or 8.00 each evening.

I have been following this for just over a year and find that it suits me.  My weight is fine as I swim or use my treadmill for exercise. My blood sugar levels are normal as is my LDL cholesterol.

If you want to find out more about this way of losing and maintaining weight here is a link you may find interesting.

Getting into a regular pattern of eating.

Which ever pattern you adopt it does help if you can stick to it. There is a great deal of research about the fact that we were opportunistic eaters and would go hours without food.  This is where intermittent fasting comes in as it does allow the body to process the food and also to recuperate.  However, young children, growing teenagers and also adults who have extremely active jobs or lifestyle need to eat in a more traditional pattern of breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks between of fruit and nuts if needed.

I would therefore only recommend that you approach eating in this way if you are 40+ and only have a moderately active lifestyle.

The biggest improvement I found in regulating my eating was in night-time snacking, much of which is caused by boredom. I would have eaten my dinner, be sitting watching the often dismal offerings on television, and have an overwhelming urge to check out what was in the fridge. I will deal with this little habit when I talk about willpower in Chapter nine. On my eating program as I lost weight, I would eat six times a day, including a snack at about 9 p.m. Some of my clients actually have two evening snacks built into their program. There is something very reassuring, especially in the early stages of the program, in knowing that you have not finished eating at 6 p.m. and that you do not have to survive with nothing to eat until 8 o’clock the next morning.

I can remember, on various diets over the years, waking up in the morning and agonising about what I would eat in the three meals I was allowed that day. Now I don’t even think about it. Even though I now skip breakfast on my current eating programme; my body knows that I am not going to go hungry, that I will be eating again in a couple of hours.

The other benefit to the eating program is that it stimulates the metabolism. Like a well-oiled engine, your body will be working away, using energy to process the food you are eating regularly. It takes calories to digest food, so look upon it as a form of exercise.

This is also where reducing the grain carbohydrates as you get older and increasing your healthy fats pays off.  It takes a lot less energy to burn carbohydrates that you eat than the good fats so you can improve your weight loss by making that change.

The biggest problem my clients seem to have is finding the time to eat, a complaint that tends to subside after the second week, by which time they are slimmer and have much more energy.

Can I still go out to eat?

Of course you can. Remember that this program (a bit like a puppy for Christmas) is for life. If you are going to embark on a new lifestyle, you must build in plenty of enjoyment.

When we used to go out to eat, I would do one of two things. If I was in ‘fat mode’, I would skip the starter, have fish or chicken and salad for the main course and no dessert. (God forbid that the waiter would go into the kitchen and tell the staff that a fat woman was asking for Baked Alaska, no wonder she is that size! I used to imagine them peeking out of the kitchen door and wondering how much I was going to eat.) After such an insubstantial dinner, I would go home and raid the refrigerator.

cake eating

If I was in ‘diet mode’, however, I would use eating out as a reward: I have been really good all week, so I deserve a treat. (Forget atmosphere, service and conversation; give me everything on the menu! I would look at the desserts first and then decide what to have for a main course.) Does all this sound familiar?

Nowadays when I go out, I go for the whole experience. I love dressing for the occasion, watching the other people in the restaurant and enjoying good service. My obsession with eating has been replaced by an appreciation of flavour and presentation. I often have a starter, but find most of the fatty choices give me indigestion, so generally I opt for soup or seafood. I do not usually have a dessert, but, if I do, I will have made that decision after finishing my main course. Sometimes I will have a cup of decaffeinated coffee and an after-dinner mint, occasionally a brandy or a certain Irish cream liqueur. Main courses with rich sauces and fats no longer appeal to me, but I do enjoy a plain grilled steak, salad and jacket potato.

The word ‘sometimes’ is the key here: ‘occasionally’ is another word I like to use. I used to do everything to excess: smoking, drinking, and eating. Today I enjoy occasions: birthdays, parties, going out two or three times a month. I no longer experience a daily eating frenzy: instead, enjoyment comes from appreciating a special occasion.

When you eat out, do not let it be an excuse to put back all the weight you have lost during the week. Most restaurants now cater for the more health-conscious diner: salad, soup or fish for a starter; steak or salmon, with vegetables and jacket potato or salad, as a main course; fresh strawberries and a little cream for dessert; a couple of glasses of wine and a brandy to finish. You presumably hope you will live a long time, and enjoying a dinner out once in a while is an important part of life. Changing your lifestyle should not mean cutting out everything that brings you pleasure. Do not become isolationist in your obsession with losing weight. Your partner/family/friends love you and want to share things with you. How many times have you been asked out to dinner and said, ‘No. I’m on a diet’? Get out and enjoy yourself from time to time. Make it their reward not yours, and just go for an extra walk that day!

What about alcohol?

Yes, indeed, what about alcohol? As with most things, I would sometimes drink more alcohol than was good for me! I still drink a little too much on occasion, but now that my system has been detoxed my body regards alcohol as a poison. As soon as I drink more than a couple of glasses of wine or spirits, I get the hangover from hell. Furthermore, since alcohol is pure sugar and yeast, my Candida is prone to flare up after a weekend of partying. So, one way or another, I now exercise a great deal more restraint than before. However, I still enjoy the odd glass of wine or a cold beer once or twice a week.

As with food, I no longer drink just because it is there. When we have a party, we might have a fridge full of beer and white wine, a cupboard full of spirits and a rack of red wine left over. However, I am simply not tempted, because I feel so much better without alcohol in my system.

Alcohol may be low in fat, but it is high in carbohydrates, primarily sugars and yeasts. If you have Candida, it will take you longer to get the condition under control if you continue to drink. I suggest that you try to give it up for the initial eight weeks of the program. Failing that, it is better for your system, particularly your liver, if you have one drink a night rather than ten on a Saturday. Again, this is about living your life. Do not deprive yourself of everything you enjoy. Moderation and a little bit of thought is the key.

The best way to enjoy drinking is to go dancing at the same time. I always try to balance indulgence with exercise. I don’t feel so guilty and I find I can still lose weight without depriving myself of a little fun now and then. The other problem about drinking is that, after three or four drinks, your judgement is impaired and all sorts of evil thoughts can creep into your head on the way back from the pub, like ‘Chinese take-away’ or ‘Fish and chips’!

How do I cope with Christmas and holidays?

It can be difficult getting back into a healthy eating and exercise program after a break such as Christmas or a holiday. You will probably have let things slip, eating foods that are higher in sugars and fats, and once you start, it can be tough to stop. It is better to find ways of celebrating or taking a holiday without straying from the program.

When we are on holiday, we generally have more free time, so make sure that you use some of this to walk and exercise more. Drink plenty of water and try to stick to your usual breakfast, lunch and snacks between. Eating out in the evening can still be fun, but choose carefully when you are ordering, and know when to stop.

As soon as your holiday is over, make a commitment to get on the scales and restart the program immediately. It is imperative to get into the swing of things as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it will become. Set a realistic target for a few weeks ahead. Find an outfit that does not quite fit and aim to get into it by a certain date. Take up a new activity. Re-focus on your original goals and visualise yourself achieving them.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001 – 2015

The previous chapters of Size Matters can be found here.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions.

Smorgasbord Health – IBS Part Three – Identifying Trigger Foods

This is the process that I used successfully for myself originally 20 years ago and also with my clients since then.. It may seem a real pain to keep a food diary and to pay so much attention to what you are eating, but it will pay off when you have either reduced your IBS symptoms or discovered the cause of the disease.

Intermittent Fasting.

In the last couple of years there has been a lot of press about Intermittent Fasting. The theory behind the concept is that by restricting your eating to within certain time periods that it gives your body a chance to process your food efficiently and also to rest the major organs active in the digestive system.

There are a couple of choices. You can have two days a week where you only have 500 calories during the day with fluids and then you eat normally for five days (by normally I do mean a balanced diet). Or you can do what I do and that is eating within an 8 hour window every day.

I have lost weight, regained my appetite, and I have lost my sugar cravings. This of course does not mean you have a free licence to eat anything you like.. But you can still have a pizza or a night out once or twice a week provided the rest of the time you are eating with Cook From Scratch firmly in place.

As to IBS symptoms.. After a year I can now have the occasional home baked or fresh made bread from the in house bakery in the store once or twice a week. I enjoy a glass of wine or gin and tonic at the weekend and I can enjoy most things as long as it is not a regular feature.


As I pointed out in the other posts on IBS, stress has been recognised as a contributory factor in the condition.  When you are keeping your food diary it is important to also make a note of out of the ordinary events or activities that resulted in an increase in symptoms.

Programme to identify your food triggers that result in IBS symptoms.

WEEK ONE – The aim is to reduce inflammation and cramps and increase intestinal flora.

Grains are all out for the first week. You will be getting sufficient carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit. You will start to re-introduce from week two, one grain at a time.

Dairy is out for the first week – you will introduce butter week two, milk week three and cheese week four. Calcium will come from vegetables, canned fish etc. If you can abide the taste of organic soymilk then fine but make sure no added sugar!  If you have symptoms after using a dairy alternative stop taking.

No alcohol for six weeks or any other processed packets, cans or bottles of sauces of any kind including mayonnaise.

One coffee per day in the morning but note any intestinal symptoms 30 – 60 minutes after eating. The oil content in caffeinated coffee can cause diarrhoea so try decaffeinated. Tea – black without milk – Green tea – very good and peppermint tea – great for spasms and cramps.


Vegetables – for first week or two avoid cabbage or cauliflower as nutritious but can increase wind. At least five a day of spinach, broccoli, watercress, Rucula lettuce, courgettes, leeks, onions, (every day) mushrooms (shitake are excellent) garlic (fresh if possible) carrots, parsnips, swede, potatoes, butternut squash (carbohydrates), tomatoes, (see how you feel the next day as pips in tomatoes can cause a problem if you suffer from diverticulitis), red peppers, peeled cucumber, half an avocado per day. Flavour with a little olive oil and herbs or spices. Balsamic vinegar with some olive oil and herbs makes a good salad dressing.

Fruit –At least two per day – bananas (helps both diarrhoea and constipation) oranges, lemons, apples, pears, grapes, berries of all kinds, plums, melon. Avoid dried fruit in week one.

Meat and poultry – any unprocessed Lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, beef, and duck. Eggs any way you wish. If you are not using milk you can still make scrambled egg and omelettes by whisking the whites first. Use the microwave or a pan with a little olive oil.

Fish – at least three times a week. –Salmon fresh and canned (mash the soft bones in for added calcium) tuna, sardines, halibut and any other fish. Give shelled fish such as prawns, crab and lobster a miss for week one and two and then introduce one a week.

Oils – Standard Olive oil or sunflower for all cooking and extra virgin olive oil for dressings – mix with herbs and spices like garlic to drizzle over jacket potatoes and salad. Do not fry with olive oil alone, add some sunflower oil and do not burn.

Examples of meals.

Breakfast. Water on rising or juice of a lemon in hot water – leave at least 30 minutes before eating if you can.

Spanish omelette with two eggs, chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onion (chop the night before and keep in fridge)

Fruit salad with fresh pressed juice on top.

Poached egg on spinach with half an avocado.


Homemade vegetable soup – no stock but you can add seasoning and salt. For example butternut squash and carrot – if you can find a fresh made soup without sugar and preservatives then go for it.

Large salad with egg, avocado tinned salmon or sardines with chopped potato and balsamic dressing.

Jacket potato with drizzle of olive oil and a tin of tuna or salmon.


Meat, fish or chicken all fresh – green vegetables – carrots and potatoes – use olive oil and herbs and spices over the vegetables.

Snacks between meals.

Fruit, nuts and seeds.

If at the end of week one you are still experiencing severe symptoms drop the fruit and repeat week one.


You can introduce oats every other day – porridge with a banana and a small cup of whole milk. You can also put a dash of milk in your tea and coffee. No more than 250ml per day. If you symptoms worsen drop the milk and stay with the oats.


You can introduce corn and brown rice – corn tortillas and substitute every other meal with two tablespoons of brown rice.

You can also start to use some butter to drizzle over vegetables etc.


Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower (check for increase in symptoms). Also a couple of ounces of cheese every other day.

You can introduce rye – Ryvita will add some variety to snacks and lunches.


You can introduce wheat again – try reduced sugar Irish soda bread – one slice per day. It is at this point that you want to pay particular attention to your symptoms over 48 hours. If you notice an increase you are probably gluten intolerant which means that certainly for the conceivable future you need to only eat gluten free products. Gluten is not just in bread of course, it is in many processed foods and meats such as sausages and in sauces.

You can have good quality yoghurt every other day. Note any increase in symptoms.


You can introduce whole grain pasta – make simple sauces from scratch like tomato and basil etc.

You can have a glass of red wine three days apart – watch for increase in symptoms.

By now you should be very aware of how your body and more importantly your intestines are reacting to the food you are eating. This is not a weight loss exercise although those who are overweight will lose some but those who have been starving themselves out of desperation will put it on.

As I mentioned earlier – you can extend each phase to two weeks. The key is to make sure that you keep an accurate record of both food intake and symptoms.


There is a huge debate as to the effectiveness of supplements. You should be now getting most of which you need to obtain the necessary nutrients but there are a few that I find very useful in speeding up the process.

Peppermint capsules Peppermint tea is great an hour after you have eaten, but I find that two peppermint capsules after breakfast help with cramps and digestion in general. However, in some people peppermint can cause symptoms so note any of these. Also be careful of over the counter IBS medication as they nearly all have peppermint.

Acidophilus capsules at least 3billion active cultures. This helps give your intestinal bacteria a kick start. They are quite expensive and good quality is vital. Take as directed but I have found that 2 per day to start with, after breakfast and dinner are helpful. You can drop this to one a day after a period of time. (see Part Two that tells you which foods are high in natural probiotics)

Aloe Vera gel this is highly nutritious and provided you begin slowly you may find it will help with symptoms, reduce the cramping and give you a boost. I start with a teaspoon a day before breakfast and graduate up to a dessert spoon twice a day over a two week period. After that you can increase to the recommended dosage on the product. I take through the winter months as I find it a great help when I am not getting any sunshine. You should be able to find a local agent but most have online shops who supply Forever Living which is about the best quality.

Multi-vitamin supplement-If you are suffering from a basic nutritional deficiency then do go to one of the larger health food chains and ask their advice regarding the best multi-vitamin that they have. You want one that is yeast and sugar free and liquid might be best to get you started rather than demand your overworked intestines try to process anything else. The liquid will also be absorbed faster and easier.  As I get older and particularly through the winter months I find that taking a B-complex supplement helps me.

So those are the basics.

Six to twelve weeks to perhaps discover the one or two foods that might be the cause of all your misery. A time to rest your digestive system and encourage your healthy bacteria in your gut and also stimulate the natural muscular activity to restart.

I hope that you will find that this is not a starvation programme but one that you can enjoy, experiment with and learn how what you eat does impact your health.

Having improved your symptoms – you may well have to make minor adjustments going forward – it might be gluten free – sugar reduced – dairy alternatives – but all are worth the price if you are free of symptoms and stress. If there are foods that will always cause you a problem you will find that there are many that will not. A small sacrifice to have the freedom from the symptoms of IBS.

On that note, as you begin to feel better and have the urge to exercise, find something that enables you to relax and be calm – leave the marathon running and the extreme sports for a while!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to comment here or contact me privately through my About Me on the blog.

Here are Part One and Part Two of the series.