Fifty and Fabulous

The thoughts, loves, rants, interests & inspirations for Gen X

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Blogging Hiatus

Hello my lovely followers,

I’ve been putting off making the decision to take a break from blogging but I can’t put it off any longer.

Hubby lost his job again last month for the second time in twelve months and although I’m now on HRT, as you know, my symptoms are playing havoc. I’m trying to stay me but I can’t cope and rather than helping see me through this tricky period, blogging and going to Slimming World group have become demands that stresses me out.

I need to take a break.

My SW consultant, Carol, has been brilliant and has agreed to set my PAT to whatever I weigh on Wednesday. This means that as a target member I no longer pay the weekly fee and am not obligated to attend group.

I REALLY appreciate your support and I hope to be back in a few months. X

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My Heart Is Breaking.

Hello Lovely Followers,

I’m sorry but today I just had to share this upsetting article that I found on TES while looking for resources for our next topic at school.

I can’t believe how widespread this issue is – teachers report an increasing number of children are coming to school hungry – but I know that in both the primary schools I’ve worked in, I’ve given food (fruit or toast) to pupils who haven’t had breakfast, I’ve even sorted out a lunch for a KS1 child (7yrs old) who came into school with an unwashed lunch-box that had mould growing in the compartments and a mouldy mini sausage roll in the bottom section!

Suffice to say, in every case, procedures are followed and incidents like this are always recorded.

Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger

Schools increasingly stepping in to provide food for children and families

Boy sad hungry

They are heartbreaking but all too obvious tell tale signs – grey-faced children and pupils rummaging through the school bins for scraps of food.

Teachers are warning that more and more children are coming to school ill-equipped for learning because they are not getting enough to eat at home.

Celia Dignan, senior policy adviser at the NEU teaching union, told Tes: “Teachers are telling us that they are increasingly seeing children coming to school hungry because they haven’t been able to have a nutritious breakfast.

The trend is confirmed by the results of a snap Tes online poll of teachers this week in which 88 per cent of respondents said that they had noticed a rise in the number of pupils coming to their school hungry. More than 90 per cent said had provided food for undernourished pupils.

Benefit changes were the most commonly cited reason, closely followed by parental neglect.

Caroline Rodgers, headteacher of Brockley Primary School in Chesterfield, said: “Sometimes the kid will say, ‘I have tummy ache’.

“You ask what they had for their breakfast – sometimes they’ll say, ‘Mum didn’t have any food.’ Other times you just get that stare, and they don’t need to say it.

Nathan Atkinson, the former head of Richmond Hill Primary in inner-city Leeds, knew there was a problem at his school when he realised his pupils were scavenging food from the rubbish.

You’d find that when you put fruit out, there were children who were putting three or four pieces of fruit in their pocket,” he said. “Or somebody had discarded a half-eaten apple, and another child had taken it from the bin and was eating that apple – what was left of it.”

After introducing successful initiatives in his school, from buying a toaster for every classroom to hosting a café on two days a week for pupils’ families, he founded Fuel for School, a not-for-profit company that sends unwanted food to schools to sell through their own market stalls via voluntary donations from parents.

The scheme’s success led to Mr Atkinson being shortlisted for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize.

At Medina Primary in Portsmouth headteacher, Howard Payne, has seen a sharp increase in the number of children arriving for school at the start of the week looking visibly hungry.

It’s a very sensitive issue,” he said. “You have to look for clues, one of which is children will look withdrawn and grey in pallor. The school tries to help families as much as it can, and as subtly as possible. For some families, we put food into a plastic bag and the children take it home,” Mr Payne said.“We’ve sent a letter to their parents, saying ‘This is available, if you feel you don’t want to accept it, please let me know.’ All of them have accepted it.”

This is an edited article from the 20 April edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week’s Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

Source: Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger | Tes News

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Weight Loss Wednesday – The Importance of Cervical Screening

Hello everyone,

It’s another Weight Loss Wednesday post and we’re well into March. So, how was your week?

If you are one on my lovely new followers, hello. I’d like to take a moment to explain to you what Weight Loss Wednesdays are all about. Back in August 2017 I was persuaded to join Slimming World by my mum (read my post here). I had done really well and achieved my two and a half stone lost certificate in December 2018 (that’s 35lbs for my American followers), however, over Christmas I put on half a stone (7lbs) and decided to start sharing my weight loss journey on this blog to help me keep focused. I attend my local group on Wednesday evenings to get weighed and get inspired, so when I get back home I post how I’ve got on; any tips we talked about and what my loss or gain is for the week, using the Weight Loss Wednesday tag.

So following on from last week’s 1.5lbs gain, I was determined to shift the weight I’d put on last week to get closer to my target weight but this week has been emotionally tricky for me, and I’ve found myself eating when I shouldn’t; when I stepped on the scales tonight I had maintained my weight from last week.

My health has been in the forefront of my mind this week and as it was International Women’s Day earlier this month , I thought that I’d share the follow article I found on the Slimming World website reminding women how important it is to look after our health and get checked out on a regular basis. Of course the same applies to men; regular checks for prostrate and testicular cancer is key. The sooner cancerous cells are found, the easier they are to treat.

Recent research shows that more than half of women (54%) put off going to the doctors unless they absolutely have to due to feeling nervous ahead of a health check.

The survey of 2,051 people conducted by Censuswide, and commissioned by weight-loss organisation Slimming World, found that more than a third (34%) of women feel nervous ahead of visiting their doctor due to being overweight.

Slimming World is supporting Public Health England’s Cervical Screening Saves Lives campaign, which will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice. Cervical screening can stop cancer before it starts by preventing harmful cells from developing.

Jenny Caven, Director of External Affairs at Slimming World, says: ““Our research and feedback from members shows that people who struggle with their weight do put off having health checks.

“However, the shocking fact is that two women die from cervical cancer every day in England and we are joining PHE in urging them not to ignore their screening invitations. The majority of our members are women and they have already made the decision to improve their health by losing weight; we want to remind them that attending screening is a vital part of a healthy life too.

“Rebecca and Claire, two Slimming World members, who have survived cervical cancer, are passionate about the importance of women going for the screening. It saved their lives.”

Rebecca Rushbrook, attends a Slimming World group in Gravesend, and frequently reminds her friends and family about the importance of attending cervical screenings.

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2003. I now never miss my screening appointment as I know first-hand the risks of cancer. Cervical screening saves lives by finding cells early, before they develop into cervical cancer.

“If I’m ever told by someone that they don’t want to go because they are scared that it will hurt, or they’ll be embarrassed, I remind them that screening only takes a few minutes and it’s important to talk through any worries with their doctor or nurse who can help.

“I always remind my friends and family to go for their screenings. I don’t ever want to be in the position where I have to watch one of them go through what I did as they failed to go for their screening.

Claire Garbutt, a Slimming World member from Kingston Upon Hull, believes the thought of screenings is worse than the reality.

It’s so vital that women attend their cervical screening – I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005 and had to have a radical hysterectomy, but I was lucky.

“Women die from cervical cancer every day but going for a simple screening can prevent potentially harmful cells developing. To me the thought of going for a screening is always worse than the reality of having one. The nurses who perform them do this day in, day out, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and nothing they haven’t seen before.

“Now, because of my experience, I’m a great advocate of screenings and ensure all my loved ones get themselves checked.

Public Health England is urging women to not ignore their cervical screening invitation, as screening can stop cancer before it starts.

And, as part of its support, Slimming World is urging all members – more than 90% of Slimming World members are women – to talk to their mothers, sisters, daughters and female friends about the importance of taking up their cervical screening invitation.

For more information on cervical screening, visit:

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Weight Loss Wednesday – Smart Body Mass Index

Hello everyone,

Welcome to this week’s Weight Loss Wednesday post. So, how was your week?

If you are one of my lovely new followers, hello. I’d like to take a moment to explain to you what Weight Loss Wednesdays are all about. Back in August 2017, I was persuaded to join Slimming World by my mum (read my post here). By December 2018, I had done really well and achieved my two and a half stone lost certificate (that’s 35lbs for my American followers), however, over Christmas I put on half a stone (7lbs). I was gutted and decided to start sharing my weight loss journey on a regular basis to help me keep focused. I attend my local group on Wednesday evenings to get weighed and get inspired, and when I get back home I post how I’ve got on; any tips we talked about and what my loss or gain is for the week, using the Weight Loss Wednesday tag.

Following on from last week’s 1.5lbs loss, I was determined to keep the momentum going and shift another pound to get closer to my target weight. However, when I stepped on the scales tonight they confirmed that I’d gained 1.5lbs not unexpected, as I’ve been doing a lot of emotional snacking this week, but it’s still depressing how tricky it is to take off but incredibly simple to put on. 😦

Getting rid of excess weight becomes increasingly challenging as you get older. Back in December I wrote about using a healthy BMI or body shape rather than a “weight” as my goal (read the post here). One of my friends shared a link on Facebook to a Smart BMI calculator that takes into consideration gender and age as well as the obligatory height and weight. Aparently, this method has been around since 2014 but it’s news to me!

I’ve copied my results for you to read yourself.

The Smart BMI Calculator then goes on to explain further;

Health aspects

Your weight is at a marginally elevated level; in our view, it should still be fine for your health. By classification of the WHO (World Heath Organisation), you are “overweight”.

With a good balance of body fat and muscle mass, your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar values should still remain at more or less moderate levels. You would then be quite well protected against a heart attack, stroke or diabetes. This might be less so if your body fat is higher with a lower muscle mass, if you consume tobacco, other drugs or too much alcohol, lack physical activity or sleep, eat unhealthy food, or suffer from stress and other unhealthy life factors.

So, as far as SBMI is concerned my health isn’t as at risk as I had thought. That’s good.

SBMI = 40/70

This assessment is based on the newly developed Smart Body Mass Index. Its ideal range is between 30/70 and 39/70.

Your Smart Body Mass Index (SBMI) is calculated as 40/70 or “40 points out of 70”.

OK, yes, I’m one point outside the top range but it’s still only numbers – what does it all actually mean?

Weight stability

At this weight level, you have a marginal risk of gaining weight.

Your SBMI will decrease by about one point within ten years if you manage to keep your 73 kilograms stable. This is due to the fact that the optimal, i.e. the “healthiest” BMI range increases with age, thus reaching higher BMI values.

Oh come on. With my will-power and love of food I think I have more than a marginal risk of gaining weight; I think it’s a certainty! Lol! But seriously, what they’re saying is that in 10 years if I stay the same weight, I’ll naturally be in the green zone anyway? There are advantages t getting older after all! 😉

Weight management

The best you can do is eat healthy food and increase your fitness. This will boost your health, whatever the case. If you lose weight in the process, all the better.

The Slimming World Food Optimising plan and Parkrun are keeping me on the straight and narrow with the management aspect. Check.

Your target weight of 69 kilograms

Losing weight is fine, but there is good news: 1 kilogram will be sufficient to reach a target weight of 72 kilograms in your optimal weight range.

Well this is better news that I had anticipated. It certainly takes the pressure off knowing how achievable being healthy is. I want to stick to my 69kg target as that keeps me below the 11 stone mark (154lbs) and well in the healthy green zone.


Never diet again. Eat a variety of foods that you like, optimally including five servings of fruit and/or vegetables a day. Avoid eating too sweet, too fat and too much.

Well that advice isn’t rocket science but my journey with Slimming World has this covered anyway!

Your recent diet

Would you like to specify the diet type? A good diet supplies the body with a well-balanced, mainly plant-based mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and with enough, but not too much energy.

In the past I’ve tried Slim-Fast and Atkins but they aren’t sustainable. Thank heavens for the Slimming World way!

Physical activity

Do physical exercise at least for half an hour daily at moderate to vigorous intensity.

No. I run (Ok, lightly jog) three times a week now and park my car away from school and walk to work.

Important to know

This feedback can only be based on the inevitably limited extent of the data that you have entered here. This data has been evaluated by comparing it with the results of the most comprehensive study published so far on the BMI and its associated health risks.

The results and comments above can only give you an estimate that applies to all women at 47 years of age with a body mass index of 28, as a statistical group. They are non-personal. They should never replace medical advice.

Of course, it’s like reading your horoscope in the paper or completing a Cosmo quiz about relationships but I’m happy with all of that. It sort of already confirmed my idea of where my healthy body weight lays.

If you’d like to get your Smart BMI just click here.

I hope you have a good week, I’m feeling positive and ready for the week ahead. Stay healthy and good luck on your journey. I’m off to eat my dinner – I’m starving!

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Slimming World vs The Menopause

Hello Lovely Followers,

If you are one of my nice new followers, I should explain that I publish two regular posts a week. Mondays are typically quite a depressing day for a lot of people – back to work after the weekend, the next weekend seems so far away – so one Monday evening I shared a post about being perimenopausal – my experiences, my symptoms and what I had found online about the causes and remedies (read it here). Hey presto! Menopause Monday was born.

Back in August 2017 I was persuaded to join Slimming World by my mum (read my post here). I have done really well and decided to start sharing my weight loss journey with you, my lovely followers. I attend my local group on Wednesday evenings to get weighed and get inspired, so when I get back home I post how I’ve got on, any tips and what my loss or gain is for the week using the Weight Loss Wednesday tag.

Last week I was overjoyed to come in with a fabulous 2.5 lbs loss! My focus has been rewarded again this week with a 1.5lbs loss!

I have struggled with emotional eating and cravings this week; imagine my surprise and joy at finding this article on Slimming World about weight loss while going through the menopause! I just had to share it.

Many of you have been in touch with us to ask how the menopause might affect your weight loss journey – we’ve taken a look below.

The good news is that there’s little evidence that the menopause should be a direct cause of weight gain or inability to lose weight. Some people see an increase in weight particularly during middle age – this is thought to be primarily due to change in lifestyle and a gradual decrease in the amount of physical activity we do. So a healthy diet (Food Optimising!) and exercise (Body Magic!) will help you reach your ideal weight.

Staying on your weight loss journey

Increasing your level of physical activity can not only help weight loss by helping you expend more energy whilst active but it also helps preserve muscle tissue, and with maintaining your metabolic rate.

As at any time during your weight loss journey including plenty of Free Foods and Speed Free Foods in your daily Food Optimising will help satisfy your appetite and give your weight loss a boost.

You are what you eat

Eating a varied, well balanced diet during the menopause is beneficial to overall health, as it is at any time of life, but there are also some specific nutritional issues that are worth considering at this time.


During the menopause, a good calcium intake along with a physically active lifestyle is considered important to help ensure that bones remain as strong as possible. Bones become weaker as we age due to the loss of calcium. Large losses can result in osteoporosis whereby bones become so weak and brittle they easily break. Women lose bone at a faster rate during the menopause due to changes in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen. Oestrogen normally helps maintain bone strength by preventing the loss of calcium but levels of oestrogen fall during menopause. The importance of calcium in bone health, particularly in maintaining bone strength as we age, has been the subject of much research. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) recommends that women ensure a good dietary intake of calcium during the menopause.

The main sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurts. Low fat dairy products such as skimmed milk still contain plenty of calcium.

Extra calcium from supplements has not been shown to have much effect on bone loss during the menopause. However, supplements may be of more benefit in later stages – some studies found that calcium supplements slowed the loss of bone in women five years post-menopause. If you’re considering taking calcium supplements we’d suggest you discuss this with your GP first.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is also important for bone health as it is needed for calcium to be absorbed from food. Most of our vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Dietary sources include fortified spreads, meat and oily fish and are important for those whose exposure to sunlight is limited. However, as sunlight is mainly relied on to produce vitamin D, and there are few dietary sources, many individuals may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. As such everyone aged one year and over has a recommended dietary intake of 10 micrograms per day of vitamin D. Public Health England recommends that:

  • All individuals aged 5+ should consider taking a 10 micrograms supplement to ensure their intake is adequate between October and March when the skin is unable to produce vitamin D from sunlight
  • People with limited exposure to sunshine (i.e. those seldom outdoors, or who cover their skin when outdoors) or those from minority ethnic groups with dark skin, such as those from African, African-Caribbean or South Asian backgrounds, should consider a daily 10 micrograms supplement throughout the year.


Women’s iron requirements decrease at the time of menopause when periods stop. Requirements are then reduced to the same level as men (8.7 micrograms/day). Therefore, although there is a reduction in requirements, it is still important to include a variety of sources of iron in the diet. The best sources of iron are lean red meat, poultry and fish. Iron can also be obtained from plant foods such as dark green vegetables, pulses and nuts but is not absorbed as well as that from meat. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from plant foods so it helps to include vitamin C containing foods (such as fruits, salad and green vegetables) within a meal.

Physical activity

It’s recommended that we should all aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 times a week to stay fit and healthy and help control our weight. This can include activities such as walking, swimming or gardening and doesn’t have to mean taking part in strenuous sports. Any activity that makes you feel warmer and speeds up your breathing and heart rate, while still being able to hold a conversation, counts as moderate activity. Including more activity into daily routines all counts, for example:

  • taking the stairs instead of the lift
  • walking short distances instead of taking the car
  • getting on the bus one stop further away

You’ll find lots of Body Magic inspiration in our activity section, including Building your steps to activity, Easy exercises at home and Choosing the right fitness class.


Many women experience a range of symptoms during the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, dry skin, poor concentration and mood swings. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often helps relieve these symptoms and has been shown to help prevent the development of osteoporosis.

There has been recent interest in the role of phyto-oestrogens as a more natural alternative to HRT to help alleviate some menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. The idea arose due to the fact that women in Japan tend to have a much higher intake of phyto-oestrogens in their diet and a much lower prevalence of menopausal symptoms than women in Western countries. Phyto-oestrogens are a group of substances found in plant foods, such as soya beans, and resemble oestrogen hormones. They have been found to act in a similar way to oestrogen hormones but have a weaker effect.

The potential benefits of phyto-oestrogens are currently being investigated in a number of studies. However, at present the effects are not clear – while a number of studies have shown a beneficial effect, others have not. The British Nutrition Foundation suggests that further studies are needed before firm recommendations can be made and appropriate advice given. They advise that anyone suffering from menopausal symptoms consult their GP to discuss the most appropriate treatment. However, those wishing to try increasing their intake of phyto-oestrogens could include more of the following foods in their diet:

  • soya beans (Free and also an F symbol)

  • tofu (plain or naturally smoked tofu is Free)

  • soya milk (calcium-enriched soya drink can be used as a Healthy Extra choice)

  • linseed (4 Syns per level tablespoon, 6½ Syns per 25g or 2 level tablespoons can be used as a Healthy Extra choice)

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Menopause Monday – Someone Turn Down The Heat!

Hello Lovely Followers,

I can’t believe that we’re in March already. I must confess that, like many of you, the brighter days are having a positive influence on my mood. I feel happier. Well when I’m not suffering from mood swings, that is! 😉

Mood swings aren’t the only menopausal symptoms I have to contend with, I’ve been having hot flushes and night sweats over the past few years too.

Hot flushes

Hot Flushes usually come on very suddenly and spread throughout the body, chest, neck and face and can vary in length from a few minutes to much longer. I never know when I’m gonna get hit but I feel less of a freak knowing hot flushes are the most common symptom of the menopause and occur in around 3 out of 4 women. Some of my friends also experience other symptoms along with the sweating including dizziness and light-headedness, I’ve been getting brief heart palpitations which can be a bit scary.

My lovely Mum warned me that hot flushes can happen more than once during the day and some women can keep getting them for years – some even experiencing hot flushes in their 80s! Really? Thanks Mum! I’ve read and spoken to my friends trying to find any patterns and although they usually occur spontaneously, they can come on after eating certain types of food or drinking alcohol, especially wine but I haven’t noticed any correlation to particular foods or drinks for me – yet.

Night sweats

My darling Hubby used to complain rather loudly about my cold hands and feet at night –  I used to be on the chilly side. Not so much any more.

For about a year now, I have had nights where I’ve been waking up several times a night “drenched” with sweat. It’s horrible! It got so bad a while back that we put the kids’ old “bed wetting” sheet under my half of the fitted sheet! I mean, they’re not the most comfortable to sleep on – have any of you had to spend the night on one?

I have read that some women really do suffer horrendously with night sweats but luckily, I don’t get them to the degree where it’s too disruptive to my Hubby – I have been putting up with his raucous snoring for the last 25 years, after all, so I feel the scales are still in my favour. 😉

But,  I still want to ease my symptoms somewhat, especially as the weather is getting warmer now. I’ve ordered this little trio from WishUWellByKaren a British company based in Southampton, hoping that the cooling properties of mint and the balancing properties of Clary-sage will help. I’ll let you know how I get on.

I will be visiting my GP next week to talk about all my symptoms; the heart flutters, forgetfulness, dithering, tearfulness and the fact that, although I have a IUD I’m still getting the odd period. It’s been 7 years since my last health MOT and I think I need another one. I’ll let you know what he says. 😉

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve got any menopause experiences or if you’ve tried any natural remedies (whether they worked or not); I’d love to hear from you.

I hope you have a good week.






Sage Advice From Fellow Blogger – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Good Evening Everyone,

As I sit here, browsing social media to help relieve the stresses of another working week, I came across the following post from fellow blogger, Shaz, that I need to share with you.

Shaz, like me is married with children (unlike me, her kids are already in their 20’s) and works in a primary school. She is an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and is passionate about early help. She’s got a wealth of experience and is a member of Bournemouth’s Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth.

Shaz is also passionate about reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet and has been blogging for eight years. I always find something interesting to read on her site and I hope you enjoy reading this too.

I have added a link to her blog at the bottom of this post that will open in a new tab so that you can check out her site for yourself.


How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life

Mental and emotional health is something that touches all our lives. In the past I’ve received counselling but it wasn’t until my GP referred me for CBT that I understood more about my thoughts and the changes I could make. A family member is currently on this healing journey and previous therapy didn’t have the impact that his current CBT sessions are having. Last year at school I worked with our link trainee Educational Psychologist to create and deliver a CBT programme for KS2 children.

CBT is a valuable tool for all ages and my guest today, Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free, is highlighting how this can help the elderly.

Set Your Mind Free Leigh Adley CBT

If you’ve always wondered what CBT is or the process that the therapy takes you through, you will be much clearer after reading Leigh’s article.

How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Improves Quality of Life

As we grow old, our bodies begin to weaken. This makes the elderly especially vulnerable to serious physical diseases and conditions including arthritis, diabetes, cancer, dementia and cardiovascular problems. Often, any prescribed medicines merely relieve the pain and don’t offer a cure. On top of that patients may also suffer from psychological disorders or depression. These factors combined can also make a person feel suspicious or even hostile to others.

Fortunately, there are effective holistic approaches that Long-term Care (LTC) facilities can use to help their elderly patients. One of them is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

It’s a type of psychotherapy that helps patients deal with their problems by tackling their mental, emotional and behavioural issues. CBT is effective because it allows patients to see how their negative thoughts affect their actions.

In CBT, patients will realise the event itself is not the cause of their emotions but how they interpret that event. Take, for example, a patient’s son or daughter who doesn’t call or visit for several days making them sad or depressed. Instead of harbouring negative thoughts, CBT can help them consider other reasons like their child probably has a busy schedule at the moment.

This treatment method helps elderly patients in dealing with two major issues:

Pain management

CBT can change a patient’s view about pain. The therapy can make them realise that less pain means improved quality of life. This method can also change how the patient’s brain responds to chronic pain. Doctors can also combine CBT with other remedies like medications or physical therapy.

However, some medical studies show that CBT, compared to medications or surgery, is more effective for controlling pain because it has fewer risks and side effects.  Furthermore, CBT helps patients to develop a positive problem-solving attitude and useful life skills in dealing with pain and other issues in their lives.

Battling depression

Depression affects all people including the elderly but their symptoms are different probably due to the various illnesses they may have and the effects of the medicines used in their treatment. When the elderly get depressed they face an increased risk of:

  • Cardiac diseases
  • Death from illness
  • Reduced ability to rehabilitate

Because depression has a serious effect on the elderly, LTC doctors and nurses need to address it immediately.

CBT deals with depression through talk therapy, which can work better than medication. For severe cases, however, a combination of CBT and drug treatment can also work effectively.

How does it work?

The patient can meet and talk with a therapist for at least 30 to 60 minutes with CBT sessions often held once a week or twice a month. In the initial meeting, the therapist will determine if the patient is comfortable with the session and if CBT is suitable.

Patients should also expect the therapist to delve into their past and background. Such information is needed by the therapist to understand the patient’s current situation. In every step of the session, however, the patient has full control throughout and can refuse to discuss anything they might feel uncomfortable talking about.

In CBT, the therapist will take the following steps to assist patients in learning about their negative behaviour and how to best correct it:

  • The patients will divide each problem into different sections. Also, they may need a diary to identify their emotions, thoughts or actions.
  • With the therapist’s help, the patients can examine their behaviour, thoughts and feelings (and how this affects them personally as well as others). Also, if it’s unrealistic or unhelpful, both therapist and patient can find out ways to change that negative behaviour.
  • The therapist will assign homework that can make patients ‘forget’ their bad behaviour and reinforce positive ones. These simple assignments give patients the chance to apply the changes to their daily lives.
  • If a task isn’t working the patient can discuss it with their therapist in the next session.
  • Another advantage of CBT is that it allows patients to continue applying what they learned even after the sessions.

What makes CBT different from other depression treatments?

CBT deploys a short-term approach that requires anywhere between 6 to 20 sessions. In contrast to traditional treatments, CBT also:

  • Focuses on changing present thoughts and behaviours.
  • Sets goals during every session, including long term ones.
  • Lets patients monitor their feelings and thoughts. Afterwards, the therapist helps them deal with them by teaching valuable coping and problem-solving skills.

As LTC professionals we should always strive to look for the best ways to deal with whatever mental, emotional and behavioural issues our residents face.  CBT is the right step towards achieving that goal.

Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free

Leigh Adley is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist/psychotherapist based in Milton Keynes.

Her site, Set Your Mind Free aims to help people get rid of their unwanted habits or addictions.

Emotional Health on Jera’s Jamboree.

Source: How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life – Jera’s Jamboree

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Menopause Monday – Support when you need it

Hello Lovely Followers,

I hope that you have had a nice weekend. Mine wasn’t too bad, although I did turn into a blubbering mess watching something on telly Saturday afternoon. I wont tell you what because you’ll laugh … yes you will.

OK it was Cars 3. See? I told you, you’d laugh!

I was browsing the internet, once again, on my quest to find out as much as I can about the “M” word and help me with these stupid symptom. OK I can chuckle about it now.


As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a great believer in natural remedies rather than pumping our bodies with man made chemicals, so I do genuinely look to herbalists, homoeopaths and alternative therapists first to help me with any health issues. Although, I must say, I am very lucky to have a great GP who is more open than most and will refer me to alternative therapies through the NHS.

The following article from Natural Health News has lots of background information in it (some of which is based on studies in the USA) links to previous articles about the menopause and useful some tips.


According to the rather dry, medical definition, menopause is simply the cessation of menstruation.  But women experience it in much more richly, and sometimes in enormously detailed and complex ways.

menopausal-womanAlthough we talk about the ‘symptoms’ of menopause – and there are dozens of them – the fact is that menopause is not a disease state but a natural condition. Like all life transitions menopause involves a complex interplay between body and mind, soul and culture that our limited language has never really described well.

Thinking just in terms of physical symptoms can lead to a situation where we medicalise something that doesn’t need to be medicalised.

Menopausal ‘symptoms’ do not arise in isolation. They can be worsened or ameliorated by certain aspects of a woman’s lifestyle for instance, whether she smokes, what she eats and whether she is physically active and her emotional health, whether she is depressed, anxious or fearful of change.

Symptoms can also vary both individually and culturally. For instance, in those countries which honour and revere older women, notably those in Asia, women rarely complain of menopausal symptoms.

While the decline of a woman’s production of estrogen can result in some temporary, and a few longer term, symptoms, it is our emotional response to these symptoms as much as anything which determines how well we cope.

Some women, in panic, fear or hopelessness, have found relief with conventional approaches such as HRT, though the evidence is overwhelming that HRT brings its own complications, chief among these are an increase rate of endometrial and breast cancer as well as a possible increase in heart disease.

A long road

Menopause doesn’t just happen; it’s one end of a gradual transition often called the ‘climacteric’.

This term is generally used to describe the 15 year period during which menstruation will cease. Around this fulcrum will be a number of physical and psychological changes.

You’d think as women we’d be used to this kind of pace. There is, for instance, rarely a precise beginning to menstruation – many young girls have light spotting and erratic bleeding for years. Likewise, there is rarely a precise beginning to labour – many women experience niggly symptoms on and off for days or weeks.

By calling this period perimenopause (the time before menopause) practitioners have a name to hang these symptoms on.  But there is little evidence that this is helpful to women.

Not surprisingly in one study, women’s overall health status, emotional and physical, objectively and subjectively – and not income and education – were the significant factors in how well women adjusted to the menopause.

Here also the language lets us down again. Menopause is so often defined as the ‘end’ of something and yet a compelling review, The Natural History of Menopause, which details work of Pennsylvania State University scientists, the elasticity of women’s cycles comes to light.

Using hormonal measurements, the scientists suggest that during the climacteric women’s cycles lengthen and lengthen until ‘menopause’ which could be described as more like a really long menstrual cycle. Indeed even after menopause some women will get light spotting and other menstrual symptoms from time to time.

It’s a challenging concept and of course it still doesn’t address the fact that menopause does bring physical changes that can make life uncomfortable.

Self help for menopausal symptoms

For those who are simply not willing to take the risks associated with hormone replacement and other medical drugs, there are many natural remedies which can ease the transition abound.  It goes without saying that a healthy diet is important. But herbal and other approaches can help too. It’s worth remembering too, that treating these symptoms during menopause is not much different from treating them at any other time of life.

Studies show that today’s women prefer non-medical treatment for their symptoms and want more support from their GPs – and their partners in pursuing these. Because menopause has become something of an industry, studies into the effect of natural remedies abound. This should make choosing alternatives more straightforward, but in truth the world of menopause remedies is full of myths and untruths.

Menopause triggers so many physical changes it would take a book just to address them all. Here’s our pick of the best approaches to a handful of the major conditions associated with menopause:

Hot flushes

Hot flushes are so individual that it is hard to find consistent evidence on what will help. Practical approaches to hot flushes include dressing in layers so you can put on or peel off as required and carrying hand fan (which with practice can be an elegant solution, here’s a fun video on how). It can also be useful to have a facial spritzer either in your purse or by the bedside. Go for one made with rose or orange flower water or with cooling, calming essential oils.

Vitamin E can help relieve hot flushes for some women, as can pomegranate seed oil. Certain bioflavinoids may also have an estrogenic effect, as well as being supportive of the vascular system. When combined with vitamin C (1200mg daily) have been shown to relieve hot flushes. The herb black cohosh may be useful for some but phytoestrogens derived from soya or red clover, appear to be only moderately effective. In fact, some studies show no benefit at all.

There is evidence that weight loss in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause. A recent study has also shown that hypnotherapy can help cut the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes by up to 80%.

If hot flushes are worse in tense situation, keep some Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence on hand to calm things down. A 2013 study found that diet is also key.

The researchers found two food patterns were associated with fewer hot flashes: high fruit intake and Mediterranean-style diet (veggies, garlic, red wine, tomatoes). On the other hand, high-fat and high-sugar diets were associated with high rates of reported hot flashes. Other food triggers include caffeine, alcohol and spicy food.


The climacteric can bring major changes in sleeping patterns. A combination of stress, anxiety, depression, hot flashes/night sweats is the likely cause. This is an important time to practice good ‘sleep hygiene. So 1) Make your room dark quiet and safe; 2) Keep your room as cool as you can; 3) Skip alcohol and tobacco.

Use a sprizter (as above) or keep a facecloth in a bucket of cool water near to hand at night so you can cool yourself quickly and get back to sleep. Some women find that special pillows the keep the head cool can greatly help them get a better night’s sleep.

A diet deficient in vitamin B12 may also promote insomnia and it may be important to recommend menopausal women increase consumption of B12 foods rich like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy as well as fermented soya and whole grains.

Practicing yoga has also been shown to improve sleep in menopausal women. It can also be helpful for relieving stress and depression, as well as keeping you limber.

Vaginal Dryness

This is a difficult problem to talk about and a difficult one to solve. It has long been believed that foods which are high in phytoestrogens include, flax seeds, fermented soya products like tofu and miso, fennel, celery, rhubarb, parsley, clover sprouts, high lignan flaxseed oil as well as nuts and seeds, may help. There is some evidence to support this, but the science is by no means conclusive.

Eating these foods regularly is a good idea even if you don’t suffer from vaginal dryness, as they increase the diversity of your overall dietary diversity.

One study post-menopausal women who added soya flour (45 g daily), red clover sprouts (10 g daily) and linseed (25 g daily) for a period of two weeks each, demonstrated an increase in the number of superficial cells which line the vagina at the end of the six week period. Since thinning of the vaginal walls is linked to dryness, this increase could help symptoms of vaginal dryness and irritation.

The herb Pueraria mirifica, which contains numerous phytoestrogens, has recently been promoted as an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms. In one double-blind study, the herb showed promise for improving vaginal dryness. In another trial comparing Pueraria to standard estrogen treatment (0.625 mg conjugated equine estrogen), researchers found the herb to be equally effective at relieving a range of menopausal symptoms.

Supplementing with maca may also help boost libido as well as energy and vitality. These days you can also buy certified organic personal lubricants for temporary relief (a better choice than the conventional chemical laden types).


Depression is rarely just a physical phenomenon and can’t easily be correlated with ‘hormones’. If you have been prone to depression before menopause, you may be more prone to it during menopause.

Low mood can be exacerbated by major stresses in the lives of menopausal women, which can so often translate into feelings of depression and unpredictable mood swings, are most often caused by family or factors other than menopause.

For instance, in one study around 25% of menopausal women are caring for an elderly relative, which can certainly be stressful.  So, seek help and support, either from a therapist or someone who can take the reins at home. Trying to do it all can just increase the sense of isolation that some women feel during the menopause. Remember also that sleep problems and depression go hand in hand.

Your diet and general level of nutrition is also important. Getting enough healthy omega-3 fats can help combat depression (whereas trans fats have been associated with a greater tendency towards irritability and depression). Evening primrose oil may also be helpful for some, though not all studies agree.

Lower levels of estrogen in your blood may make less tryptophan available for conversion into serotonin – our natural ‘feel good’ hormone. Thus supplementing with this essential amino acid or eating foods rich in tryptophan (dairy, poultry, fish, seaweed, bananas, dried dates, peanuts and all protein rich foods) may make a contribution to easing symptoms of depression and insomnia.

20 March, 2014 By Staff Writer – Natural Health News

See also:  How to prevent brittle bones and Soya – how the world’s healthiest food is making us sick 

Source: Support during the menopause

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Menopause Monday – Detox Dieting

Hello Lovely Followers,

So, here I am again posting something about the menopause. As I have already said, I am at that age where the “M” word is begin bounded around in my circle of friends and colleagues and I am sure that I am perimenopausal because I’m experiencing quite a few of the tell-tale signs. 😉

In my research, I’ve noticed that the same foods keep popping up; I’ve already increased the amount of soya I consume since joining Slimming World (read my Weight Loss Wednesday posts to find out more) and I had taken caffeine out of my diet a couple of years ago by switching to decaffeinated tea (I don’t drink coffee) as one of my colleagues had recommended that it helped reduce her menopause symptoms.


I found the article below on the Natural Heath News website. As I’ve said before, I’m a great believer in natural remedies rather than man made chemicals so I was very interested in the suggestions made in the article that supposedly helps with the symptoms and the Detox Diet itself is very similar to the healthy eating plan that I’m already on through Slimming World!!

Oh, and I’ve added a few purchase links to help, if you’d like to try out some of the suggestions yourself or the simple detox diet yourself.

Your detox diet for menopause

The menopause is potentially one of the most liberating transitions in every woman’s life.

It can herald a shift to greater freedom and personal satisfaction as you move from constantly supplying family needs to having more time and space to express your own purpose. Making love can also become more relaxed and adventurous as the fear of pregnancy recedes.

In more traditional societies the role of the older woman is well established in the community and such things as wisdom, calmness and more time to observe and reflect are valued and respected.

From an energetic perspective during the fertile years a woman’s spiritual energy ebbs and flows during her menstrual cycle, after the menopause the spiritual contact can be more direct and consistent.

There are still societies where the cessation of periods that indicates the menopause physically, is just that and no other symptoms are expected. Japanese women, for example, are known for their lack of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, attributed mainly to their increased consumption of soya based products, which are high in phytoestrogens.

In western society ageing has become associated with failure and losing one’s function, becoming less useful and unattractive. The emphasis on youthful appearance has led to a great fear among many women of showing the natural signs of ageing and embracing one’s changing role and status.

The key to a healthy menopause is to accept it as a time of transition into a new phase of life and not view it as the beginning of a decline. There are many positive examples of women at this stage of their lives who have changed careers, moved to a different part of the country or chosen to pursue their own interest in such things as a natural medicine course, gardening or painting.

If you are finding it difficult to have a positive attitude towards this major life transition then the Australian Bush Flower Essence called Woman Essence can be very helpful.

It has been developed to encourage a woman’s own innate strength and beauty and it will help to harmonize mood swings and balance the emotions during the menopause. Simply take a few drops morning and night for a few weeks.

The menopause transition

Like all periods of transition, the menopause can throw up symptoms both emotionally and physically as we move through it.

The average age of the menopause is 52 (although anything between 48 and 54 is normal and many woman may be younger), and the cessation of periods is the observable result of a number of complex hormonal changes occurring within the body.

The ovaries, the pituitary and the hypothalamus in the brain are the glands that communicate with each other to regulate the menstrual cycle. During menopause the hormonal balance begins to change, and less oestrogen produced by the ovaries.

At around the same time, more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are produced by the pituitary. It is usually the level of FSH that is measured when testing for the menopause occurring.

These hormonal changes, when out of balance, are responsible for the symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats that can occur during the menopause.

The decline in oestrogen fluctuates at first, but eventually tapers off. This is then replaced by a form of oestrogen called oestrone, that is converted from androgen mainly produced by the adrenal glands.

Insufficient oestrogen can lead to the symptoms of hot flushes, vaginal dryness and in the longer term, osteoporosis. This emphasises the importance of having healthy adrenal glands if we want to enjoy good health after the menopause. The adrenal glands are especially prone to damage by poor nutrition and an excess of stress.

What goes wrong?

The liver has the job of breaking down ‘old’ hormones and eliminating them from the body. If the liver is not functioning efficiently then these ‘old’ hormones continue to circulate in the body causing PMT-like symptoms, hot flushes, irritability and headaches and can eventually lead to a range of tumours such as fibroids and, when malignant, to cancer.

Going on a detox program can really help the liver to regenerate and this is why a regular detox can be the key to reducing menopausal symptoms.

Misc_fruitThe Detox Diet

This cleansing diet is a 10-day programme that is suitable if you are basically healthy but want to clear your system out and give your liver a chance to regenerate.

If you have a particular health problem you should have a consultation with a naturopath before going on a special diet.

Day 1

Fruit for breakfast, lunch and in the evening. Choose one fruit for each meal from the following: apples, pears, kiwi fruit and grapes. Eat as much fruit as you like at one sitting.

Day 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Fruit for breakfast. For lunch make a mixture of at least five salad vegetables: mix grated roots, sprouts and leafy vegetables.

In the evening eat cooked vegetables. Make a soup by boiling a mixture of at least five vegetables. Do not add any salt or seasoning. You may add fresh, chopped herbs or a handful of mixed seeds.

Day 7, 8 and 9

Breakfast as day 2. Lunch as day 2 but in addition eat two rice cakes or two rye crispbreads. Evening as day 2 with the addition of a portion of brown rice or millet.

Day 10

Breakfast as day 2. Lunch as day 7. Evening as day 2 but in addition eat a baked potato with a small knob of butter (it will taste delicious!)

Things to pay attention to

Drink lots of mineral water every day. Obtain as many as possible of the fruit and vegetables organically produced. Important things to avoid altogether throughout the diet are: tea, coffee, smoking, salt, pepper, recreational and non-essential prescription drugs and late nights.

A simple salad dressing, made by combining olive oil, lemon and fresh chopped herbs, may be added to the salad lunch.


  • Mid-morning you can have an additional portion of fruit or a fruit smoothie.
  • Mid-afternoon you can have a handful of roasted seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds. Do not add salt.

This detox diet should be carried out at least once a year and preferably twice a year. Spring and autumn are traditional times to undertake a detox.

The above article is excerpted from Understanding the menopause: natural solutions that really work by Susan Curtis (Winter Press, 2007). Susan’s book features advice on a range of different natural options to ease the transition of menopause.

13 September, 2011 By Susan Curtis

Source: Your detox diet for menopause

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Recipe: Nando’s Style Chicken

Reading this recipe makes my mouth water. Yum.

I should confess, am a bit of a wuss when it comes to “spicy” but I have increased my chicken meals since joining Slimming World. I will have to hunt out JD Seasoning in my local supermarket and give this recipe a try.