Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Guest Post – On Getting Away With It by Julie Lawford


Welcome to another lifestyle post from author Julie Lawford and this week the effect of stress on our health and the accumulated issues of middle-age.

On Getting Away With It by Julie Lawford

Several people in my circle and my general age-bracket, are in a poor or deteriorating state of health at present. There’s cancer, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, a stomach ulcer, the after effects of blood clots, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease. I don’t have an enormous circle of friends and acquaintances, and that’s a lot of un-wellness; a combination of the diseases of middle-age, auto-immune conditions and the impact – physical, psychological and emotional – of modern living.

And that means… stress.

Stress brings with it a heavy payload of physical and psychological symptoms (just Google ‘stress symptoms’ and check out some of the lists). But chronic stress also opens the door for some far more serious conditions and diseases to enter. Who knows whether it actually causes them, but it certainly makes you more vulnerable.

Stress is about helplessness and feeling out of control. It’s not, as some people assume, about having too much to do. It’s far more about the feeling that, for whatever reason, you can’t cope with what you have to do or deal with. It’s about feeling ineffective, pushed around by others, powerless to influence your circumstances, or spiralling into some kind of a hole that you don’t feel able to climb out of.

Stress… actually weighs you down

Interestingly, stress is also an inhibitor to weight loss, as cortisol, the hormone produced in circumstances of stress, causes the body to hold on to its fat stores. The more chronic your stress, the harder it becomes to lose weight. And of course, the harder it is to lose weight, the more out of control the overweight person will feel. It’s one of those cruel vicious circles of life.

A contributor, for sure, to my yo-yo-ing weight and its gradual upward trajectory over the years, was the level of stress I lived with, mostly through the sort of work I used to do (which was wrong for me in many ways, but well-paid, so I pushed myself onward), and occasionally in bad relationships and their fallout too. Divorce, financial pressures, unsatisfactory living arrangements, poor relationship decisions, work related anxiety including two redundancies and striking out as a solo-preneur, a problematic menopause, and a constant, gnawing sense of being not quite good enough at everything I tried to do. All these things contributed to a fluctuating but ever-present level of stress throughout my thirties and forties and right through until a couple of years ago. And all the while the weight piled on.

Until such point as it was no longer a product of stress, but one of its causes.

Fat stresses

Yes, fat itself became the stressor. Here’s how it gets you: You stress about what people are really thinking of you. You see a bucket chair in a cosy coffee bar or gastro pub and wonder if you’ll be able to squeeze into it. You see a different kind of chair in a school assembly hall, at the end-of-year stage production starring your young nephews, and wonder whether it will hold your weight for a whole two hours. You worry about getting too hot or sweaty when you go out somewhere, to meet clients or be social. Wherever you go, you worry you’ll be the fattest person in the room. You stress about being out of control, about your excess weight being so overwhelming that you’ll never feel normal again. You stress about never having something comfortable or stylish to wear for an important event. You become acutely aware of heaving yourself about, hoping others will not notice the effort. When your well-meaning friends ask kindly if you’re OK to walk a few steps, or climb to the second or third floor, and you realise they think you’re almost disabled, you stress about it. You stress about weight limits on fitness equipment and spa facilities, because you exceed them. And that’s just where it starts…

Health anxiety

This is the next layer of fat-stress. Health anxiety, or hypochondria, is a fearful thing. Health anxiety surfaced for me as the menopause kicked in, and a confusion of symptoms became very unsettling. Beneath my intellectual appreciation that I was immersed in the time-of-life experience, lay an occasionally paralysing fear – because I was fat – that there was somehow something far more serious going on, that I had brought upon myself by being overweight. The sense of impending doom I would eventually learn to manage as I tried to calm my palpitating heart in the wee small hours, was frequently overwhelming. I called an ambulance on two occasions (and nearly called them on a dozen more) and once spent the whole night in A&E wired up to heart monitors as stress and anxiety exacerbated those all-natural hormonal misbehaviours.

Statistically speaking

And health anxiety isn’t just an internal thing – it’s fed by the media, in their pursuit of emotionally-charged headlines. The voices of statistical authority would have me believe that my excess weight (well over 100 surplus pounds when I started this healthy lifestyle thing last September) made – still makes – me a candidate for all manner of disease, including most of the conditions my circle of friends and acquaintances are suffering. Obesity, so say the statistics, puts me at significantly elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer of numerous kinds, high blood pressure, high cholesterol (whatever the implications of this are supposed to be) and diabetes – and that’s just for starters. Add osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea and asthma, gout, gallstones and fatty liver disease. Oh, and anxiety and depression too.

All in all, it’s a misery-laden feast, particularly if you’re inclined to let scary headlines get under your skin.

A matter of time

But despite those 100 or more excess pounds, I’m one of the fortunate overweighties not eating at this misery-laden table. I wasn’t at 270 pounds, and I’m still not at 207 pounds either. In fact, notwithstanding the 50 pounds or so of excess weight I still have to get rid of, and the anxieties related to my state-of-weight that I carried for years, my health is very good. I’m through the menopause (hurrah!) so I’m even feeling like an actual human being again, no longer screaming at the universe whilst sweating from every pore. As I shed my surplus tonnage, I’m getting fitter and healthier by the day.

Believe me when I say I’m not in the least bit smug about my current state of health and wellness. And things could always change, I know this; I’m only 56 years old after all. But at the moment I suffer none of the ailments that should, if the statistics are to be believed, be my misfortune.

I changed my lifestyle last September because I finally acknowledged I was getting away with it. The slew of disabling and depressing ailments within my circle of friends and acquaintances had made me realise this, and want – at long last – to do whatever I could to avoid these conditions becoming part of my lot in life.

I know no amount of healthy living can guarantee this, but common sense tells me that it must help, to manage my weight better, eat more healthily, improve the state of my heart, lungs and circulation, and exercise regularly. I just finally got to the point where the push to do something was greater than the pull of the sofa, the packets of crisps and the ready-meals.

Now my stress level has dropped to a record low. I’m handling work better as my brain is more alert and I no longer suffer the 3pm slump. I am calmer, more relaxed, less easily provoked to irritation. I have energy to enjoy more social activities. I have self-respect again. What little disquiet as I may occasionally feel, as anyone does, is counterbalanced by a growing sense of confidence and wellbeing which has come from looking better and feeling healthier and knowing that at long last, I’m doing right by myself.

©Julie Lawford – first posted July 18th 2016.

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Singled Out by Julie Lawford

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

A recent review for Singled Out.

Very good on 18 June 2017

A very well written thriller set during a holiday trip to Turkey, organised for singles. You might assume that this could be chick lit, but that would do the character depth and writing style grave injustice. While certainly appealing to female audiences this novel doesn’t limit itself to pure light-hearted romantic interests but visits darker sides of the dating game and crime.

Using alternate narrative strands and voices we get insight into the characters, but we’re shown enough to be drawn deep into these characters.
Things are not as they seem and while you have an incling what is about to happen, be assured that there are always surprises waiting for you.

Not the kind of book I had originally expected but in fact, a much better one. Very good!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

You can find the previous guest posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/guest-writer-julie-lawford-health-and-weightloss/

Thanks for dropping in today and I would love it if you would share Julie’s post – Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Guest Writer – 50 Losses and 50 Gains by Julie Lawford


This week Julie Lawford shares some of her experiences during her weight loss process that I am sure will resonate with all of us. We tend to focus on the pounds lost or gained and not on the difference even losing 20lbs or 50lbs can make to us. I remember the first time that I could get in and out of a bath when I had lost 50lbs.

Judith shares the gains that she made when she had lost her first 50lbs and it is a terrific way to not only celebrate the weight you have discarded, but provides the motivation to continue to reach your target weight.

This post was originally shared in March 2016 and I can tell you that having met Julie at the Blogger’s Bash she looks amazing now that she has reached her target weight.

This weekend was a memorable one for me, in weight-loss terms. I’ve now shaken off 50 pounds since I begun my new healthier lifestyle last September. I still have a very long way to go (I’m not quite half-way to my most ambitious goal, since you ask). But at 50 pounds – that’s over 3½ stone or over 22 kilos, depending on your measurement of choice – I’ve just exceeded the most I’ve ever lost on any healthy eating campaign (note the absence of the word ‘diet’) before.

Weirdly, and I don’t want to labour this as it could easily depress me and I don’t want to get depressed… I’m now back to the weight I was when I started the weight loss campaign when I managed to shift what was until yesterday the most I’d ever lost before. But back then (2002) I had crawled to the upper 40’s and couldn’t keep it going. It all went (excuse the pun) belly-up. On that occasion, I’d gone to Weightwatchers, and it was good while it lasted. But as soon as I took my eye off the ‘points’ ball, my weight soared back on. Yes, soared back on at a rate which terrified me and which I could not even begin to understand. In all, I put on an average of 1 pound per week over the next 18 months (and then still more thereafter); a catastrophe from which, after several false starts in the mid noughties, I am only now recovering.

But I don’t want to jump aboard the trauma train. The whole point of this post is to mark an achievement, and highlight some of the many, many wins, gains and benefits that I’ve seen from the loss of this first 50 pounds.

So, here they are, in no particular order – all the ones that spring to mind at least:

  1. I’ve dropped 3 dress sizes
  2. I’m wearing ‘old favourite’ outfits that haven’t fitted me for 8 or 10 years
  3. I’m back to the weight I last carried over 14 years ago
  4. My ankles are pretty again, no more heavy, fluid-filled balloons
  5. I’m wearing high heels again and loving the increased stature and well-being
  6. I can go for a walk without pouring with sweat
  7. I’ve discarded a giant pile of ‘fat clothes’ that I hated having to wear
  8. I’m breathing more deeply, not catching my breath
  9. My resting heart rate has dropped over 10 bpm
  10. My nails are unblemished and healthy
  11. I haven’t had a cold all winter
  12. I can bend and touch my toes
  13. I can see my toes!
  14. My waist and once proud hourglass figure is re-emerging
  15. I’m wearing pretty bras again
  16. Yes, I’ll say it, I feel sexy again
  17. I’m standing straighter and taller
  18. When I pull my tummy in, it actually goes in a bit
  19. I like myself because I feel in control of my eating habits
  20. I feel good when I take exercise
  21. I feel good that I take exercise regularly
  22. I feel great when I get home from taking exercise
  23. I’m relishing many compliments from friends, family and colleagues
  24. I’ve surprised one or two people who haven’t seen me in a while – that’s been fun
  25. My feet have shrunk
  26. My boobs have only shrunk a little
  27. Pilates has become more fun again
  28. I can lie on my stomach and still be able to breathe
  29. I’ve rediscovered vegetables, nuts and seeds
  30. I’m looking forward to warm summer days ahead, not fearing discomfort
  31. I’ve eliminated 99% of added sugar from my life – and totally lost my sweet tooth
  32. I’m able to make healthy, balanced choices in restaurants
  33. I can fit into bucket seats without cutting off the blood supply to my legs
  34. I can sit on folding chairs without worrying they will collapse
  35. I won’t need an extender belt next time I fly
  36. I’ve learned to live without… toast
  37. I’ve discovered I can lose weight and still enjoy butter and cheese
  38. I can wear trousers that do up with buttons and a zip
  39. My favourite dressing gown wraps right around me again
  40. Tight toilet cubicles are no longer an embarrassing challenge
  41. I can buy ordinary clothes at Marks & Spencer
  42. I can buy actual sportswear
  43. I have swimming costumes which hold everything that has to stay… held
  44. My neck is slimmer and necklaces sit so much more comfortably and attractively
  45. My fingers are slimmer and I can wear rings I haven’t worn for years
  46. My wrists are slimmer and I can wear watches and bracelets again
  47. My hips no longer ache when I walk
  48. I can run upstairs
  49. I don’t get acid reflux after evening meals
  50. I no longer worry that I’m slowly killing myself

And a bonus ball…

“Hold yourself to a higher standard, and enjoy the self-esteem that comes with each single, small, disciplined act.” Tony Robbins

… I am indeed enjoying the self-esteem that comes from ‘holding myself to a higher standard’…

What about you. Are you, or have you ever been on a weight-loss, healthy lifestyle journey? If so, what were the most significant gains for you?

My thanks to Julie for sharing this post and as always your feedback and questions are very welcome.

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Singled Out by Julie Lawford

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

The latest review for Singled Out.

Author Julie Lawford and I got chatting originally on twitter where I was envious of her new bookshelves! She had tweeted a photo. On discovering that she had published her debut novel earlier this year, and because I am always nosey where books are concerned, I took a look at its reviews and decided that Singled Out might well be a read for me. I was right – it’s a really good book!

Set on a singles holiday in Turkey, Singled Out is much more than a light beach read. In the very first chapter we meet an anonymous man who is preying on women. We soon learn that he is part of the holiday group, but not which male character he is or which of the female characters are at risk. Lawford deftly presents her story from two perspectives – a straightforward third-person recounting of the tale is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of The Man – and this creates a chillingly creepy atmosphere. I enjoyed trying to pick up clues and then discovering they could be applicable to multiple men. Great writing!

My favourite character is our heroine Brenda with whom I found it easy to empathise. She has a degree of the obligatory tortured soul persona, but is also warm and caring. She loves her food and the frequent descriptions of Turkish cuisine had my mouth watering and almost a plane ticket booked! It is refreshing to read about a woman who is not a stick insect and also not desperately trying to become one, and I liked that she is portrayed as strong, independent and desirable. Jack’s existence is nicely veiled and explored in an intriguing sub-plot.

Lawford’s presentation of people and places makes it easy to envisage what is going on and I know people just like Adele and Veronica. Singled Out is a good crime mystery read that is more about the participants than just the chase. The writing and plot have an interesting splash of originality and this book is definitely a cut above the identikit mainstream norm.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

You can find the previouse guest posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/guest-writer-julie-lawford-health-and-weightloss/

Thanks for dropping in today and I would love it if you would share Julie’s post – Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Guest Writer – What we repeatedly do… by Julie Lawford


Julie Lawford continues her summer of lifestyle articles with a post on how positive change involves examining what you are currently doing, identifying habits that are self-destructive, and moving forward by developing healthier options.

I’ve come to appreciate that the weight-loss I want to achieve must be a by-product of whole-life lifestyle change. It’s not a project which has an end date, after which normal service (peanut butter on toast for breakfast, crisps and chocolate bars for dinner etc) can be resumed. I know that sounds obvious, but for lifetime overweighters like me, this change cannot be about being on a diet. This suggests that one day, one is no longer on a diet.

Whether we like it or not, our new healthy eating habits cannot be a temporary regime. They must become our permanent lifestyle – they must be what we do all the time, how we cook all the time, how we shop all the time, what we eat all the time, what we decline all the time.

So this time, rather than following rules, counting points and being on a diet, I’ve focused on layering on the healthy habits; nailing one habit, then adding another, and another, and another, and keeping at them until they become my normal, default position. For me, it’s not been an all-or-nothing game (which approach dieters are inclined to take, making massive changes all at once, often with disappointing outcomes). It’s been a measured, one-step-at-a-time approach.

It’s said, variously, that it takes 28, 60 or 90 days to embed a new habit. I don’t know which number is the right one but I do know that those good behaviours that at first require extraordinary reserves of self-control and self-discipline, do eventually seep into your psyche and attain the status of ‘habit’.

Like the 3-mile turning circle of an ocean-going liner, I’ve taken my time, but now I’m most assuredly going in the direction I want, with a host of healthy new habits on-board.

These are some of the habits to which I’ve laid claim over the last six months. They doubtless sound perfectly mundane to people of normal weight, but for me, each one has begun with a conscious effort, self-discipline and a determination to succeed, before it has become part of my new healthier lifestyle:

Cutting down and then eliminating added/refined sugar from my diet – this is The Big One, and I confess, I’m very, very proud of myself that I seem to have mastered this

  • Restricting my intake of pasta, bread, potatoes and white rice to very small portions and very rare occasions – after sugar, this is about restricting my intake of simple carbohydrates to a very minimal level. We can all live without so much of this pappy, bloaty dietary filler
  • Eating more, and a greater variety of vegetables
  • Incorporating nuts and seeds into meals
  • Cutting out processed poke-and-ping ready-meals
  • Taking the time to cook meals from scratch
  • Making healthy rather than indulgent choices in restaurants
  • Going for a walk outdoors at least 5 days a week
  • Taking every practical opportunity to walk rather than use the car.

Things I’m working on right now include:

  • Eating less cured meat and less cheese – my outstanding foodie weaknesses!
  • Standing up at my desk for periods of the day – following last week’s precarious tower of oddments, I’ve purchased a cunning device which raises my keyboard to precisely the right height whilst also folding up to nothing when not required.

Payoffs from my new habits have been immense. Quite apart from the 47 pound lost (so far), my resting heart rate has dropped by over 10bpm and my tolerance for exercise has risen; I no longer suffer from water retention due to sluggish circulation; I’m more alert and never bloated; night-time bouts of acid reflux are history; my posture is better, I’m standing taller, walking straighter and am properly aligned from foot to knee to hip, so all sorts of niggling aches and pains have gone. I’ve dropped 3 dress sizes and I can wear killer heels again without my feet imploding. I don’t know about the state of my insides yet as I haven’t been to the GP for blood tests and all that stuff. I’m saving that one as a special treat for when I clear 50 pounds.

It’s hard, when you begin to make long overdue changes with a view to getting healthier, especially if this involves trying to lose weight. Everything seems so far off, and the challenges seem so towering. The most helpful approach for me has been to not try and do it all at once, but to nail one or two habits at a time, gaining strength from small successes, which then power the next round of changes, where still more effort and determination is required.

It won’t be for everyone, but it’s working for me.

©Julie Lawford 2017

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Singled Out by Julie Lawford

‘There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

The latest review for Singled Out.

Most definitely for those who enjoy a book with an uncomfortable edge, ‘Singled Out’ is one of the most striking novels I’ve encountered in a very long time. With its short chapters, punchy dialogue, intriguing characterisation and wonderful descriptive passages, it’d make a terrific vacation read. And it’ll haunt your reflections long after the final page has been turned.

It is also one of the bravest pieces of writing to have come my way in a long time. In a masterful opening scene, Lawford leaves her readers in no doubt about her ability to grasp material that many writers would avoid, and bring it to the page without reservation. Those who choose to stay the course won’t regret their decision, but should be aware that this narrative demands to be treated with the respect it deserves. Lawford’s pen doesn’t pull any punches. Her ability to write certain scenes from the male perspective is, quite simply, astonishing.

But who is the male in question? From the moment the opening scene strikes home, the reader is faced with a gripping quest to solve this burning question. It is here that Lawford’s talent really comes into its own. She weaves a complex tale with disarming ease and leads her readers from twist to turn with effortless skill, and at a gentle pace offering deceptive comfort to the unaware (until the next shock comes their way). This is writing as a craft.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

You can find the previouse guest posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/guest-writer-julie-lawford-health-and-weightloss/

Thanks for dropping in today and I would love it if you would share Julie’s post – Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Guest Writer – The Bitter Truth about a Sweet Tooth by Julie Lawford


I am delighted to welcome author Julie Lawford to the blog to share some of her extensive archived of health posts. The first post is close to my heart… and shares Julie’s own experiences with sugar and some of the recent findings on this sweet and addictive invader.

For decades, losing weight has been all about cutting fat. ‘Official’ health guidelines directed us to ditch the full-fat milk in favour of semi- or better still, skimmed milk. Butter was demonised and we were told it was better for us to smear synthetic spreads across our bread. Low fat products filled the supermarket shelves and most of us were unaware that once the fat was excluded, in order to endow them with any taste, they had been packed full of… sugar. How is any of that better for us?

You’ll probably be aware that the official guidelines have recently undergone a seismic shift. Fats – especially good fats are IN, and sugar – despite the protestations of the food industry – is now OUT. Sugar has been rebranded the biggest dietary evil of our time.

Let me pin my colours to the mast here. I believe this to be absolutely true.

I’m not presenting myself as an expert on the matter. But I’ve been persuaded of the arguments and benefits by reading and learning from sources such as:

  • Pure, White and Deadly: How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it; by John Yudkin
  •  Sugar – The Bitter Truth; a lecture available here on YouTube, given by Robert Lustig
  • Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease; by Robert Lustig
  • Action On Sugar (website here) and Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra (website here)

The arguments are, believe me, compelling. Sugar rewards you emotionally, but does nothing for your body, and it was undoubtedly a major factor in my weight gain – and that’s not even taking into account the whole diabetes issue and a host of other damaging outcomes. The information is all out there – Google it.

Some time ago I had already significantly reduced my intake of chocolate, mainly because I realised I was addicted and was consuming far too much on a far too regular basis. I know. I know. People think I’m mad, but for the last three years, I’ve eaten chocolate at only two times of the year, for a couple of weeks at Christmas and Easter. Four months ago, along with a host of other dietary changes, I resolved to cut it out altogether. I took the decision not to re-introduce it for Christmas 2015. I’d enjoyed having those two indulgent periods of the year to look forward to, but they had rarely lived up to expectations and I’d become aware that for me, chocolate no longer filled the emotional hole it was supposed to fill.

Cutting it out resulted in a substantial reduction in my sugar intake, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t like sweet pastries and I don’t crave cakes particularly, but I have a weakness for biscuits/cookies, sweet cereals and a variety of confectionary. I had the killer Sweet Tooth.

Ah… biscuits/cookies… If I had them in the house, I would easily eat 4 or 5 with every cup of coffee. When I stopped buying them, there were days when I would prowl the kitchen looking for something – anything – sweet to plug the gap. But that passes fairly quickly, although I do recall squeezing spoons of toffee sauce one evening! But the truth is, the less of the sweet stuff you have around you, the easier it is not to consume it. And once the cravings diminish, you’ll be amazed, and you’ll wonder how sugar ever had such a hold over you.

There were two sweet things that hung about for a little longer… (1) I struggled with a nice, healthy bowl of porridge – I couldn’t enjoy it without a big squeeze of Golden Syrup and (2) I was still consuming sweetened yoghurts. Neither of these seemed particularly bad to me (it’s amazing how you can delude yourself, isn’t it?) – after all, I was eating porridge, and yoghurt, wasn’t I? But they had to go. Now I can enjoy porridge with a sprinkle of salt (yes, really!) and some blueberries or banana, and I’ve replaced sweetened yoghurts with my favourite creamy indulgence – Fage Greek Style (ahem, full fat) yoghurt, packed with friendly bacteria, which is utterly sublime.

What surprised me most was how both my compulsion and my taste for sweet things has gone. I don’t miss anything – and that amazes me. Cravings disappeared quickly and on the one or two occasions when I’ve had a small taste of sweet, out of politeness or because I didn’t want to be too pedantic about it, I’ve found the taste… not pleasant. Sweet is now… too sweet. That, my friends, is massive – the fact that once you’re no longer slamming your taste-buds with a tsunami of sugar, they don’t cry out for it, and when they get it, they don’t much like it any more. Massive.

It’s become so obvious to me that we are trained from childhood and endlessly influenced by advertising and the media, to crave sugar and regard sweet things as treats. Now there are savouries which I regard as treats – although my goal is to ‘treat’ myself with other things, not edibles. But, as they say, it’s a journey.

I would encourage anybody to take a run at this. Like any addiction, it’s tough at first, but eliminating sugar has so many positive effects on the body, that it’s worth persisting.

I’m not, as I mentioned, totally pedantic about it. My focus was on eliminating the main sweetened food groups – cakes, biscuits, breads, cereals, confectionary, deserts, sweetened drinks and fruit juices (but NOT whole fruit) – and avoiding added sugar in processed or ready meals, mainly by avoiding processed or ready meals. Doh. If there is sugar here and there, as there is, say, in salad dressings and other condiments, I’m content to overlook this. But at a guess, I believe I must have eliminated 95% or more of added sugar from my life, and I’m happy with this.

The anti-sugar lobby began to find its voice last year. Now it must demand that food manufacturers lower the quantity of sugar in their products – and it can’t do that without support from the general public. It’s bound to take some time. I would urge you not to wait for the food industry to catch up. By far the easiest way to reduce your own sugar intake immediately is to turn you back on those highly sweetened products.

Oh, and one small piece of advice. If you decide to begin this process, don’t just put or throw away the sweet stuff in your cupboards… douse it with washing-up liquid first!

©Julie Lawford 2016

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Singled Out by Julie Lawford

One of the reviews for Singled Out.

Most definitely for those who enjoy a book with an uncomfortable edge, ‘Singled Out’ is one of the most striking novels I’ve encountered in a very long time. With its short chapters, punchy dialogue, intriguing characterisation and wonderful descriptive passages, it’d make a terrific holiday read. And it’ll haunt your reflections long after the final page has been turned.

It is also one of the bravest pieces of writing to have come my way in a long time. In a masterful opening scene, Lawford leaves her readers in no doubt about her ability to grasp material that many writers would avoid, and bring it to the page without reservation. Those who choose to stay the course won’t regret their decision, but should be aware that this narrative demands to be treated with the respect it deserves. Lawford’s pen doesn’t pull any punches. Her ability to write certain scenes from the male perspective is, quite simply, astonishing.

But who is the male in question? From the moment the opening scene strikes home, the reader is faced with a gripping quest to solve this burning question. It is here that Lawford’s talent really comes into its own. She weaves a complex tale with disarming ease and leads her readers from twist to turn with effortless skill, and at a gentle pace offering deceptive comfort to the unaware (until the next shock comes their way). This is writing as a craft.

Lawford also offers her readers a polished, professional product. Its cover is atmospheric and the patience of a careful edit is evident on every page. On rare occasions I come across a novel that restores my faith in contemporary fiction. ‘Singled Out’ is one such title. I’ll never forget it.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford-ebook/dp/B00RO1GH28/

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

My thanks to Julie for her post and please let us have your feedback about your relationship with sugar and all things sweet. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Singled Out by Julie Lawford


Please welcome a new author to the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore. Julie Lawford is author of Singled Out set on an idyllic slice of Turkish coastline, but all is not as it seems.

About the book

There’s something delicious about not being known, don’t you think?’

Brenda Bouverie has come on a singles holiday to Turkey to escape. Intent on indulgence, she’s looking for sun, sea and … distraction from a past she would give anything to change.

But on this singles holiday no one is quite who they seem. First impressions are unreliable and when the sun goes down, danger lies in wait. As someone targets the unwary group of strangers, one guest is alone in sensing the threat.

But who would get involved, when getting involved only ever leads to trouble?

Singled Out subverts the sunshine holiday romance, taking readers to a darker place where horrific exploits come to light, past mistakes must be accounted for and there are few happily-ever-afters.

A simmering psychological suspense laced with moral ambiguities, for fans of Louise Doughty, Sabine Durrant, Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Haynes, S.J. Watson and Lucie Whitehouse.

Two of the reviews for the book

Singled Out explores the relationships that develop between a group of people on a singles’ vacation in Turkey. Brenda, a fantastic character and my new favorite heroine (such a cool lady!), forays out on her own for the trip while dealing with a personal issue she must come to terms with. But her life soon becomes intertwined with the others at the vacation resort, and she finds herself caught up in something she’d rather not be. What follows is a great combination of who-dunit and psychological suspense.

The writing in this debut novel is impressive with descriptions so rich, you’ll feel like you’re touring, sunbathing, and feasting on delicious meals in Turkey yourself. Mystery cloaks every page, and answers are doled out in a page-turning manner. But a caution to sensitive readers–the subject matter deals with sexual assault (that’s not a spoiler as the opening scene depicts this) and misogyny, sometimes in quite graphic detail. Normally I would shy away from material like that, but I felt comfortable in the author’s hands given the strong female lead who carries the novel, and the important message that’s unveiled.

An impressive debut novel for fans of psychological suspense. I look forward to more of this author’s work.

Don’t let the fact that this is Julie Lawford’s debut fiction novel fool you… this lady truly knows how to write! Not only does she demonstrate a brilliant grasp of the English language but the entire book is beautifully written with fantastic descriptive passages that will transport you to the sights, sounds, tastes and fragrances of Turkey, where this story takes place.

I had other stuff to take care of today, but did it get done? Not a chance. I was locked away with ‘Singled Out’ until I finally finished it, wishing there was already a sequel. The way she writes her characters throughout the book is nothing short of masterful and I have a new favourite heroine in Brenda Bouverie; the twists in her personal tale made my jaw drop. I seriously can hardly wait for Lawford’s next book.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Julie-Lawford/dp/1505207517

Read more reviews and follow Julie Lawford on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13411991.Julie_Lawford

About Julie Lawford

Always engaged with the written word, Julie Lawford came to fiction late in the day. Following a career in technology marketing she has been freelance since 2002 and has written copy for just about every kind of business collateral you can imagine. By 2010, she was on the hunt for a new writing challenge and Singled Out – her debut psychological suspense novel – is the result.

Julie is based in London in the UK. Whilst penning her second novel, she still writes – and blogs – for marketing clients.

Connect to Julie Lawford at her website and on social media.

Website: https://julielawford.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieLawford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julie.lawford.1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julielawford/

Thank you for dropping in and please feel free to comment and share thanks Sally