Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind – Size Matters: The Sequel by Sally Cronin -#Obesity #Weightloss Introduction.


This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and I had intended to release in 2021 for the 25th anniversary of my initial weight loss. However, with everything else going on in the world it did not seem appropriate to celebrate when people’s minds were fixed on survival in lockdown. Although this serialisation ontains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 25 years.

Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book.

Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

I used to weigh 330 lbs and was given a death sentence 27 years ago. I had very high blood pressure, cholesterol levels through the roof and my blood was awash with sugar. I took this swift kick up the backside to heart and did something about it, losing 154 lbs in 18 months and regaining my health in the process.

I am now 69 years old, have a moderately active but busy lifestyle as an author and blogger,and thankfully, do not need medication other than the specific supplements when required. I think about those days 27 years ago, when even climbing the stairs to bed were a challenge and left me breathless. My story, and the programme that I have adapted over the years, is still relevant today, as we face a massive increase in obesity and in the associated health problems – Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and Dementia.

When I was classified as morbidly obese it was very uncommon in the UK, although having lived in Texas in the mid-1980s, it was evident that the obesity epidemic had already begun.

When we arrived in Houston we were met with a wonderful abundance of food, huge portions when out for a meal, and a bewildering array of industrially produced foods in the aisles of the supermarket. In the UK at that time we had fish and chip shops, Chinese and curry takeaway, but we were mesmerised by the amount of fast food available 24 hours a day. It was also clear that manufacturers were already catering more than food for the growing population, with outsize fashion for both men and women making billions of dollars a year.

When I look at group photographs taken at work with other people back in 1995, it is clear that I stand out from the crowd, and not in a good way. I usually avoided photographs like the plague especially when standing next to what I considered to be normal sized people. That sense of being alone as the one obese person in the room has changed dramatically in the last 27 years.

Here are some statistics that are very sobering about obesity today in the UK and I know from doing some research that a similar set of statistics is causing grave concern in most Western countries that are literally the lands of plenty. UK Obesity statistics

• 1 in 4 adults are classed as obese and a further 62% are overweight.
• This makes Britain has the 2nd highest rate of obesity in the world and the largest in Europe.
• 48 billion is spent managing the social causes and healthcare of obesity.
• There are 7 million cases of diabetes, 6.5 million cases of heart disease and stroke and 500,000 cancer cases linked to obesity.
• Hypertension (high blood pressure) was twice as common in obese adults compared to those with a normal weight.
• A BMI of over 30 can reduce life expectancy by 3 years.
• Approximately 68% of men and 58% of women are classed as overweight, however, there are more hospital admissions linked to women.
• Obesity is generally more prevalent in the north of England.
• Morbid obesity rates have almost triple since 1993. This is a BMI of over 40.

This is an epidemic of catastrophic proportions. Unless action is taken in the next few years, these statistics will increase to the point where not only will more and more individuals become crippled and diseased, but so will the health services who will be attempting to repair the bodies at great cost.

I wrote this book over 22 years ago to share my story and some of the strategies that I developed to take back control of my life, body and importantly my addiction to food, particularly a combination of fat and sugars. That combination lies at the heart of the obesity epidemic and if you look at the profile of industrially manufactured foods, they are the leading ingredients.

Another thing you will discover is that I am very anti crash and fad dieting. I starved my body into submission for over thirty years and my body responded by storing everything I ate. I will explain this process in more detail later in the book, but for the moment I just want to reassure you that this programme is about eating and not starving. You need to provide your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to function and be healthy. This means eating the right food, and plenty of it.

My journey began in despair, with a long road stretching ahead of me. Luckily I had a wonderful team to support me and I would have achieved very little in those first few months without my husband’s love and support. My family, friends loved me whatever weight I have been but I know that they were tremendously relieved when I gave up my self-destructive behaviour and changed my life so drastically.

I still communicate with people around the world who have severe obesity problems as well as those people who want to improve the standard of their health or support their body as it deals with certain medical problems. I believe passionately in the power of food to help you lose weight and regain health and I am on a constant mission to learn more about all the wonderful varieties that are available to us.

This book is not just about promoting a healthier lifestyle. It is a personal story that I hope will inspire other people who are desperate to find a solution to their weight or health problem.

This was my journey and I hope that after reading the first few chapters you will relate how I felt, to your own story, and be motivated to take control of your weight and health. Whether you need to lose 14 lbs. (6 kg), 50 lbs. (23 kg) or 150 lbs. (68 kg), it is still necessary to understand how you managed to become overweight in the first place.

As I have become less active and become more desk bound the weight has a tendency to creep up, so I can assure you that I am not a paragon of virtue. And in fact over the last twenty years, when encountering stressful experiences, I have all too gladly dived back into the sugar and fats that bring such comfort. Thankfully, it does not take long for me to remember how I felt when trying to navigate doorways and stairs, and I give myself a good talking to and get back on track.

The physical, mental and emotional elements of obesity.

There are physical, mental and emotional elements that influence our lifestyle and diet, and remembering those difficult and sometimes distressing times in our lives can be painful. I hope that like me that you also have many happy memories to help bring things back into perspective. When you finally succeed in achieving a state of balanced state of health it gives you an amazing sense of achievement and for me that feeling persists today.

My journey to health was not all smooth sailing and I have climbed a very steep learning curve. For instance, I came to appreciate the power of that little word NO. Instinctively we want to fit in, to have people like and accept us, and so we say YES, but trying to please everyone is stressful and unrewarding.

The satisfaction of eating a bar of chocolate is nothing compared to the satisfaction I feel now when I say NO to eating one. I can now say NO to many things that have caused me harm, though I have had to learn to say it graciously without offending well-meaning family and friends.

My reason for sharing some of the most challenging experiences of my life, is not to gain sympathy but to demonstrate that it does not have to define you and that you can move through it to a much better sense of worth. If you don’t and you find self destructive ways to comfort yourself, the experience or the people who caused your pain have won.

A brief overview of the programme in part two of Size Matters.

I believed in working with people on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a group, helping them to achieve their desired weight loss. In a way that is also achieved today as you read this book or read my health posts on my blog. The program that many have followed over the years when I was in practice, forms the second part of this book. Everything is there for you to design your own healthy eating program around your personal likes, dislikes and lifestyle.

If you are overweight, you need to take back control of your life and your eating habits, and this program is a tool to do just that. No gimmicks, pills or special diet foods, just good healthy eating, several times a day, with some walks thrown in. Nothing hard about that. We all possess the ingredients to ensure the success of this program – determination, willpower and patience. All that remains is to discover how to activate those particular skills and start using them.

My life has been transformed, and there is no way in the world that I will go back to the old life however many times I have been tempted over the last 25 years. Particularly when I remember that my life expectancy at the time was counted in just a few years. If this book makes a similar difference for just one person, then it will have been worth it.

If I can communicate a single message to you it is that obesity, and the misery attached to it, need not be for life.

Next time Chapter One…Life or Death… I am told by a doctor that at 42 it is likely that my obesity related health issues would make it unlikely I would reach 45.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 21 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – Salmon – Omega 3 on a Plate by Sally Cronin


As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Much of the salmon available today comes from fisheries and conditions and feed of these farmed fish have improved through regulation in recent years. However, I am not convinced by the publicity and prefer to eat fish that has been caught in the ocean and to me there is definitely a difference in the taste of this salmon. You can buy ocean caught fish frozen or fresh depending on where you live and for me the freshest is fish that has been caught and frozen whilst the trawlers are still at sea.

There is always some concern about the levels of mercury in fish and studies indicate that ocean caught salmon from the northern seas and rivers have levels that are considered to be low and safe for more regular consumption.

Salmon has been on my ‘must eat’ list for a long time and in this day and age, when obesity and heart disease are becoming the top causes of premature death, then including it in your diet regularly is very important.

There are a number of health issues apart from heart function that eating salmon benefits including weight loss, bone health, a healthy immune system and brain health. The nutrients in this important source of protein are also helpful in preventing cancer and diabetes.

salmonI will begin with Omega 3, which is abundant in fatty fish such as Salmon.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. It is important that your overall cholesterol is kept to a normal level but it is equally important to ensure that the balance between the LDL (lousy cholesterol) and the HDL (healthy cholesterol) is maintained with a lower LDL to HDL ratio.

Omega 3 appears to maintain that correct balance. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the higher density lipoprotein and when oxidised becomes dangerous. Because it is smaller it is able to clump and attach to the walls of the arteries and cause a dangerous narrowing. Pieces can also break off and travel in the bloodstream to major organs like the brain and the heart. An added bonus in eating salmon muscle is that it contains peptides that may also lower blood pressure.

One trial in New Zealand measured adults with a high cholesterol level over a 4-week period. They consumed 3g of salmon oil per day and after the 4 weeks they showed an increase of HDL and a decrease in LDL levels. Lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure levels certainly contributes to a healthy heart.

Omega 3 is linked to brain health in a number of ways. The brain contains a large amount of fat especially Omega 3 fatty acids in particular DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In studies DHA levels determined levels of brain activity and cognitive function and is thought to be essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in babies. This ability is not limited to young humans as it is vital that this brain activity and function is maintained into old age. Including Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet therefore may well decrease our risk of developing degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Carrying additional weight can certainly contribute to strain on the heart muscle and the salmon has a rather unusual property that whilst yet unproven may help in weight loss.

There is a protein that is released when we begin to eat called amylin. This protein travels to the brain where it is measured and the brain then decides when we have eaten sufficient food and should stop eating. Unfortunately we have got very adept at overriding this message from the brain and consequently we tend to eat more than we actually need leading to weight gain.

The salmon produces a hormone called calcitonin, which has the same effect on animals as amylin does in humans. There is no conclusive proof but it is felt that this hormone when eaten might result in us consuming less food.

The other possible weight loss property of salmon is Chondroiton sulphate. Chondroiton is often used in conjunction with Glucosamine as a joint repair preparation but in this case the Chondroiton which is found in the nose of the salmon appears to have fat blocking capabilities. It appears to work in two ways by reducing the amount of fat absorbed into the intestines and then preventing any fat that has been absorbed from being stored in the cells. This will require a great deal more research but could be an interesting property in the fight against obesity.

As we get older the risk of bone fractures increases with many women particularly suffering from hip joint disease after menopause. Omega 3 may be instrumental in decreasing bone loss and therefore osteoporosis.

Our immune system is working ceaselessly against the constant onslaught of bacteria and viruses and on the whole if we have a healthy diet containing plenty of antioxidant rich foods our defence system keeps us safe. However, from time to time something slips through and then we need to know that all the complex mechanisms of the immune system are functioning perfectly.

Salmon is high in selenium,which is avery important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancerin particular.

Overall, the salmon contains many nutrients in the flesh and also in parts of the fish such as bone that is often included in canned fish. It is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, manganese, copper, phosphorus and zinc, some of which are of particular benefit for the cardiovascular system and the heart.

Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones, calcium is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women.

The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient, they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen and the major organs of the body such as the heart become deprived of this life essential element.

Salmon is very versatile and provided it is from a healthy source and not from poorly maintained fish farms it can be eaten two to three times a week served hot or cold with plenty of fresh vegetables and salads. It is particularly delicious served chilled with a spinach salad and new potatoes.

You can also eat canned ocean caught salmon and this is particular good if you eat the soften bones that tend to come with it – if you find this unappealing simply mash the salmon and bone together with a fork and use on salads.

For some delicious recipes that will encourage you to include more salmon in your diet.. please head over to an earlier post where Carol Taylor shares some of her favourite dishes: Cook from Scratch – Salmon

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

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

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Preparing for an operation – Get fit and make good use of the time.


Smorgasbord Health 2017

One of my roles over the years is to prepare some of my clients for surgery.  There are risks to any procedure, but you can make a difference to the level of these risks if you are a healthy weight, have normal blood pressure and boost your immune system.

With the best will in the world, and the best efforts of the NHS, it is still likely that you will be added to a lengthy waiting list for a non-urgent procedure. For most of us this can be a worrying time and the longer you have to wait the more stressful it can become. However, you could look at this period as a positive opportunity, to not only improve your general health, but also reduce the small but nevertheless normal risks of both anaesthesia and post- operative infection.

There are three areas that you can focus on for the weeks or even months before your operation and it is as easy as changing foods in your diet and improving some of your lifestyle choices. It is important to give up smoking and to reduce your alcohol intake. In the two weeks prior to the operation you should stop drinking alcohol completely.

1. WEIGHTLOSS

The nearer you are to your optimum weight the less risk there will be from anaesthesia. There are some practical issues to address. You are going to require more anaesthesia the heavier that you are, and this can affect your recovery immediately following the procedure. If you are very overweight and going to be on your back on the operating table for some hours, the pressure of fat in the chest area will compromise your breathing. The need for intubation is dramatically increased for obese patients as is the pre-operative work up which has to include far more tests than those undertaken for less overweight patients.

If you are scheduled for joint replacement, particularly hip or knee joints, losing weight ahead of your operation will improve your recovery time. For many patients it is the additional stress on the joints from being overweight which has caused the wear and tear in the first place.

2. BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

In the last two or three years there has been a steady decline in recorded numbers of MRSA and other post- operative infections. In many cases the patients concerned have been high risk having suffered long term ill health, being elderly and malnourished, or very young. If you have a number of weeks notice before a stay in hospital then you can take steps to boost your immune system giving your body every chance to not only speed recovery but also avoid contracting an infection. The body requires a very broad spectrum of nutrients to fuel the thousands of chemical reactions going on in the body at any moment in time but there is a specific range of nutrients that are essential for a healthy immune system and I give you an example of some of the foods to include later in the post.

3. REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE AND UNHEALTHY CHOLESTEROL

Modern anaesthesia practices are very sophisticated and if a patient has high blood pressure it will be monitored throughout the operation to ensure the safety of the patient. There are millions of middle aged patients who are currently on blood pressure medication and you should always continue taking that medication right up to the time of the operation and you will be advised of any changes to the dosage when you are admitted to your ward.

Having said that one of the desirable side effects of losing weight before your surgery will be a probable reduction in your blood pressure. The more stable and nearer to normal levels that your blood pressure is, the less risk of complications during and after the procedure. You are also likely to be taking pain medication following your operation and there is always drug interactions to be considered. You must however, not take yourself off any medication without the support and advice of your doctor and you can discuss this with him after losing weight and improving other lifestyle related risk factors affecting your BP.

Usually patients who are suffering from high blood pressure have also elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Reducing your cholesterol to as normal levels as possible will have a knock on effect on your BP.

YOUR PRE-OPERATIVE EATING PLAN

It is likely that you are not at your most active during the weeks leading up to your operation but there are armchair exercises and also breathing exercises that can help you lose weight and your doctor’s surgery should be able to advise you on these. I have a breathing programme that is easy to complete a few minutes each morning and night that does not require you to become over energetic and you can adapt for your particular health issue.

This post tells you more about the benefit of breathing efficiently and the exercises that will help you achieve that: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/lets-walk-a-marathon-internal-fitness-programme-day-two-getting-enough-oxygen-to-walk/

A pre-operative eating plan.

This eating plan is based on 1500 calories per day but if you are male then you will need to add another 300 calories in the form of wholegrain carbohydrates and lean protein. It is better to eat 3 moderate meals with 3 small snacks rather than eat 3 large meals per day. Your body will process the food more efficiently and your metabolism will remain stimulated throughout the day aiding weight loss.

It is very important that during this plan that you restrict your intake of industrialised factory foods completely as most are both salt and sugar laden, even if they say they are fat reduced and healthy. If you find that you have to use prepared food in any way then ensure that it is low salt. Be aware that hams, bacons and other processed meats are very high in salt usually and will elevate blood pressure even further.

Prepare your own foods from scratch and put a level teaspoon of salt in a small dish and this is your cooking and seasoning allowance per day. Try to move away from sugar and sweeteners and if you enjoy honey then try Manuka honey which you only need a very small amount of. Manuka is the subject of ongoing scientific research and has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties.

THE FOODS

This is just an example – any fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein that you enjoy is fine. Cook from scratch and if you are only eating around 20% of your foods from processed sources you should be fine.

Whole grains containing Biotin, Vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, phosphorus and manganese to boost the immune system. Fibre to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Per day

  • At least one bowl of porridge or muesli once a day. (4 tablespoons)
  • 2 slices of multi-grain bread (4 if you are male)
  • 4 tablespoons of cooked whole grain rice (6 if you are male)
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables containing Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Bioflavonoids, Potassium, manganese and tryptophan to boost the immune system.

Per day

  • I glass of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 bowl of fresh fruit salad made with pineapples, blueberries, kiwi and fresh apricots
  • 1 banana per day.
  • ½ avocado
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Any dark green vegetables.
  • Walnuts or Brazil nuts
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • Protein containing Vitamin A, Biotin, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Co-enzyme Q10, phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Selenium, Zinc to boost the immune system
  • Egg
  • ½ pint of fresh milk Cow’s or goats
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese even a small square or used in cooking.

Three times a week. (Spread over breakfast, lunches and dinners)

  • Chicken or Turkey (four times a week if you are male)
  • Salmon or sardines
  • White fish
  • Calves liver
  • Prawns
  • Lamb or beef
  • Pork

FLUIDS

Start each day with juice of half a lemon and hot water this will help boost the immune system, alkalise the body and get the digestive system kick started.

Apart from fresh juices such as orange, apple and cranberry drink (you can buy some brands that are just juice and you only need a small glass) at least 4 cups of Green Tea per day which boosts the immune system and helps reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol. Also Red tea with citrus or any other herbal tea that tastes good.

Tap water to make fluids up to 2 litres per day.

I hope that if you are facing an operation at some point in the future that you will look on it as an opportunity and by taking action beforehand you can save yourself weeks and possible months in rehabilitation. Getting fit before an operation may also save your life.

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to spread the message as far and wide as possible. thanks Sally