Contrary to popular belief, the life of a food critic boils down to more than just making snide comments about dishes and restaurants. The job entails more than going to high profile restaurants to determine whether the food they serve is as good as the management wants the public to believe it to be. Food critics are people who not only judge famous cuisine; they do it for the public. They discriminate the good from the bad so the general population has a good idea of what to eat, and where to go to enjoy good food. More than that, it is also the job of a food critic to find the diamonds in the rough, and bring the unnoticed and underrated restaurants and dishes of today into full view of the people.

While every culture has differences in what is considered proper etiquette during dinner (and the definition of a “formal” dinner varies from place to place as well), most agree on one of two styles of formal dining: American and English. Both are considered by many to be respectful to the dinner host, and are designed to minimize mess and spills during and after the meal. The diner (person who dines) must become familiar with the formal dinner setting in order to avoid using utensils the wrong way.

The formal dinner table setting is iconic, with most utensils placed side by side in the order of which the food is going to be served. Directly in front of the diner is the dinner plate. A salad plate is placed on top of this, and a napkin is neatly to top it off. In the case of formal restaurants, is also accompanied by the place card. If soup is served, then the soup bowl is placed on top of the salad plate. The position of the plate is meant to serve as a center; a fixed point that under most circumstances should not move during the entire dinner, and the soup bowl and salad plate are removed as the diner moves to the following course.

To the left of the dinner plate are the forks. They are arranged from left to right in the order of which the courses are served. Therefore, the salad fork is to the far left, and the dinner fork is located closest to the dinner plate. Between these two, any number of forks except the dessert fork and cocktail fork is placed, depending on what is to be served. For example, if the waiter is serving fish, then the fish fork goes between the salad and dinner forks. All forks on this side of the plate are placed with their handles facing to the diner.

I have had a number of friends who have been blessed with newborns over the past few years. One thing that’s common among them is the joy they have after getting their new bundle of joy. For them, it’s a signal of the time in life they have been preparing for all their life, motherhood. However, there’s another thing that’s common among most of them, they desperately want to get rid of the stretch marks that develop during the nine months of pregnancy.

Stretch marks during pregnancy are a common occurrence. Well over 95% of pregnant women get stretch marks. The reason for this is that the body is growing faster than the skin. As such, small tears occur under the skins surface leaving scars which we commonly know as stretch marks. These scars will occur in the parts of the body that grow the most such as the belly and stretch marks on breasts.

For the new mother, is important to understand that stretch marks will most likely not be completely eliminated. However, they will fade with time leaving you with fairly even skin appearance. In addition, you can also take measures to accelerate the healing process as well as make your stretch marks less conspicuous. Here are some tips to help you alleviate stretch marks after giving birth.

The first thing is to moisturize the skin. Applying creams and gels on stretch marks will help to accelerate the healing process as well as prevent development of new stretch marks. The reason why moisturization is recommended is that dry skin is prone to cracking due to its lack of flexibility.

Besides moisturization, ensure that your body is adequately hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to keep the skin flexible. Stretch marks usually develop on skin that has been stretched beyond its breaking point. That is, if the skin is stretched beyond its most flexible point, it’s more likely to develop stretch marks. Increasing flexibility through hydration reduces chances of developing new stretch marks.

Your diet plays a major role in your skins health. Besides ensuring that the skin functions normally, diet will help in the healing process. Avoid foods that dehydrate the skin such as alcohol and caffeine. A good skin friendly diet includes vitamins such as A and B complex. It also includes minerals such as zinc.

Regular exfoliation helps to reduce stretch marks. Exfoliation is the process by which you remove dead skin cells. This has two benefits. First, it promotes the flow of blood and nutrients to the skins surface giving skin some glow. Second, it promotes development of new skin cells which helps to even out the skins appearance.

You can also practice techniques which make your stretch marks less conspicuous. If you are into body art, tattoo over stretch marks is one of the common ways I’ve seen used to hide away these scars as they heal. Many of the new mothers that have used this technique will usually apply temporary tattoos which fade with time. By the time the tattoo has faded, the stretch marks have also faded leaving an even skin appearance.

I recently read an article about the rising cases of dog allergies. It was linked to a forum where the trending topic was can dogs eat bananas without risking allergic reactions. The article detailed how common ingredients in dog food can trigger an allergic reaction. It also recommended hypoallergenic pet food as an alternative. Surfing the net, I came across countless businesses selling this type of dog food. Not sure about what this type of pet food is or does, I decided to do some research on the topic. Today I’ll discuss what I found.

What are pet allergies?

Like humans, pets such as dogs can develop an allergy. Allergies occur when the pet’s body identifies a normally harmless substance as an invader and attacks it. The substance can be an ingredient in its food. Some of the symptoms associated with dog allergies include vomiting, scratching and itching, dull coat and skin and, lethargy.

It’s worth noting that an allergy is usually specific to the individual pet. Therefore, an ingredient in food that causes an allergic reaction in on pet won’t necessarily cause the same reaction in another. In addition, pets can suddenly become allergic to foods they eat daily. These are products such as chicken, corn, wheat and dairy which are normally included in dog food.

How do you know what’s causing allergic reactions in your dog?

If your pet shows symptoms of allergic reaction to specific dog food, it’s possible that one or more ingredients in the food is the trigger. The best approach to take is withdraw the dog food and start feeding your canine one ingredient at a time. This way, you can be able to identify the specific ingredients that are causing the allergic reaction and eliminate them from the dog’s diet. You can also change your pets diet altogether. However, the new diet should provide the nutrients your dog needs to remain healthy.

How about hypoallergenic dog food?

Changing to a hypoallergenic diet immediately you identify allergic reactions in your canine isn’t advisable. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, your dog is unique and whatever triggers an allergic reaction in your pet might be completely safe for another. Hypoallergenic pet food might not include ingredients commonly known to cause allergies in dogs. This however doesn’t mean that the ingredients included won’t trigger an allergic reaction in your pet.

Second, if you haven’t identified the ingredient that causes the allergic reaction in your dog, you won’t know which brand of hypoallergenic pet food is best. You might simply end up buying pet food that contains an ingredient that will cause allergies.

Third, you can save money if you first establish which ingredient in your dog food triggers a reaction, and eliminate it from your dog’s diet. Remember, most of the hypoallergenic pet food brands are priced more than regular dog food.

Hypoallergenic pet food might seem the best option for your dog if he develops allergies to certain foods. However, it’s always advisable to know which foods are causing the allergy in the first place. This way, you will be able to identify which brands will be best for your canine.

While growing up, one of my best friends was an only child. We always bombarded her with questions as to why she didn’t have siblings like other children. Well, as kids we thought everyone had to have siblings. But this didn’t deter her from making friends with me and enjoying my company. That was years ago now and, I’ve come across single child families along the way. The stereotypes attached to the only child have changed very little since when I was young. Interestingly, most of these labels are wrong. Let me discuss a few of these.

One of the common stereotypes associated with the only child syndrome is that these children are spoiled. Although some end up being spoiled, majority of only children aren’t. This stereotype comes from the notion that the only child gets all the attention, love and focus from parents. Well, this is true since the parents don’t have other children to love, spend money on and, teach. However, this doesn’t mean that the only child will necessarily end up spoiled. If one ends up spoiled, it’s probably because the parents didn’t teach the virtues of being nice to other people.

Another common stereotype associated with only children is that they are selfish. Only children are used to getting stuff they don’t necessarily have to share since they dong have siblings. Many people believe that this translates into real life where these children will refuse to share. However, the kids that end up selfish are a small number. In addition, there are kids from households with more than one child that are also selfish.

Only children are also considered to have poor social skills. Most people believe that the only child will have a tough time interacting with other people as they grow up. Although without siblings, only children will spend most of their early years interacting with other children in daycare. This gives them ample time to build on their social skills.

The only child is also believed to be bossy. This might be true in some cases since this child is used to having things done their way and can grow up to be that controlling boyfriend. In addition, the only child doesn’t have siblings whom they can compete with and interact with as they grow. This tends to make them bossy. However, most of these children actually grow up to be mature at an early age and this is what most people see as bossiness. This is due to the fact that only children spend most of their time around adults rather than other kids.

Another false belief about only children is that they are lonely. Its one of the craziest I’ve come across since these children are interacting with people on a daily basis. Being an only child only restricts you from interacting with brothers and sisters. However, with cousins, friends and adults around, I dint think there’s something as a lonely only child.

Although these stereotypes are quite common more couples are opting to have only one child. The US Census Bureau actually reported that the single child family is the fastest growing type of family unit.

I remember the first day I was asked out on a date. I was so excited about it and ensured that all my friends were informed that I wouldn’t be available for the evening. However, about an hour to the date, anxiety kicked in. I suddenly realized that I had no idea what to wear or anything about dates. I began to panic. “Should I cancel the date?” Was one of the thoughts that crossed my mind. However, I wouldn’t let this guy down and I really liked him.

It was then that I thought of a better option call up some of my girlfriends that I believed were superstars when it came to dating. They were of much help and the date went great.

Anxiety is part of human life. Everyone has had their bout with anxiety at some time in their life. However, to many, this condition is still a mystery. That’s why I’ve compiled this Q and A to help answer some of your questions.

What’s anxiety?

Anxiety is a condition where the patient suddenly feels tense, frightened and fearful. It can last for a couple of minutes or hours. There are instances of chronic anxiety where symptoms last for days.

What causes anxiety?

There isn’t a single cause for anxiety. There are several causes some of which are known to the patient and some which are unknown.

How does it occur?

Anxiety occurs in stages where the trigger (known or unknown) causes release of adrenaline from the brain. This chemical is responsible for the development of the different anxiety symptoms in the body.

What are the symptoms?

There are a number of symptoms associated with anxiety. They include the following.

Hyperventilation is one of the first symptoms that result when adrenaline is released into the bloodstream. It’s characterized by constriction of the blood vessels. This results in the heart and lungs working harder in a bid to supply oxygen to the different organs. The hyperventilation can result in anxiety chest pain which is concentrated around the chest cavity.

Another symptom is difficulty concentrating. During an anxiety attack, the person feels distressed and confused. Lack of concentration is especially prominent when the anxiety trigger isn’t known.

Rise in body temperature is another symptom associated with anxiety attacks. This is one of the effects of adrenaline.

Another common symptom is insomnia.

Are there different forms of anxiety?

Anxiety takes different forms depending on the trigger. Some of the examples include the following.

General anxiety disorder is a form of anxiety found in most adults experiencing everyday stressors.

Social anxiety affects persons who feel nervous in social situations.

Relationship anxiety affects a person in a relationship and isn’t sure about the future of that relationship.

Panic disorder is a form of anxiety where the patient suddenly has a panic attack with no apparent reason.

Are there ways to treat anxiety?

Anxiety can be treated through a number of ways including counseling, supplements for anxiety, stress management, regular exercise, facing the anxiety trigger and home anxiety remedies.

A week ago, I was reading a story about a young man who had had a heart attack and remarkably recovered. According to him, it just came suddenly without any pain. I initially believed that anyone having a heart attack has to feel some pain in the chest. His story was therefore a bit confusing to me so I decided to do some more research and created this guide into heart attacks.

A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is suddenly interrupted. This leads to damage in the hearts tissues and can be fatal if not addressed immediately.

The most common cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease. This condition is characterized by clogging up of the major arteries which supply blood to the heart by cholesterol. If one of these clogs ruptures and blocks the flow of blood, a heart attack results. There are many factors which put people at risk of developing coronary heart disease and they include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, diet, age and, family history.

Other causes of heart attacks include hypoxia which is a condition where there’s lack of oxygen in the blood. Drug use can also increase risk of heart attack.

There are varied symptoms linked to a heart attack. Medical practitioners believe that no two heart attacks can be exact in terms of symptoms. Some patients actually have heart attacks without experiencing any symptoms at all. Some of the common symptoms however include the following.

Chest pain and discomfort are two of the most common symptoms. The pain may come suddenly or slowly. In some cases, it will last a few minutes or go and recur again. Studies reveal that men are more likely to experience the chest pain than women. However, chest pain during heart attacks is quite rare in diabetics.

Pain in right arm, numbness in left arm, pain in shoulders and jaws are other common symptoms. Patients often explain a sharp pain that originates from the left or center of the chest. The pain then travels through the shoulders, jaws and arms. Pain can be in either one or both arms.

Shortness of breath and tightness in the chest area are also symptoms associated with heart attacks. These can be accompanied by lightheadedness due to lack of oxygen and sweating.

In the event of a heart attack, medical practitioners advise that every second counts. The longer you wait to receive treatment, the higher the risk of extensive damage to heart tissues and cardiac arrest which is fatal. It’s therefore advisable to get immediate medical help if you experience any of the above named symptoms.

Prevention is usually recommended. Changes in lifestyle and diet can significantly lower risk of getting a heart attack. Some of the recommended changes include quitting smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol. Regular exercise to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels down will also reduce risk of a heart attack. Avoiding foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats will lower cholesterol buildup which in turn lowers risk of developing coronary heart disease.

A friend of mine loves to spend her January vacation traveling to places where the weather is a bit forgiving. The cold winters are too much for her and she prefers places where there’s plenty of sun and sand. This year, she decided to visit one of the African countries. Upon arriving home, besides a tan, she had sunburn on her left shoulder. It was healing and she attributed this to an old sunburn remedy she got from her mom – vinegar.

I sought to know if vinegar really helps treat sunburn or it’s just a myth. My research concluded the following.


This is damage caused to living tissue by the suns ultraviolet rays. These destroy living tissue especially the skin and in more severe cases such as second degree sunburn, it can cause considerable damage to nerves.

Vinegar for sunburn

While some people might believe the contrary, vinegar does help in the treatment of sunburn. It contains antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties. These will help relieve pain and prevent infection. Applied on sunburned skin, vinegar also helps to dry out the blisters promoting fast healing. In addition, vinegar has the unique ability of bringing the skins pH back to normal after sunburn. This helps to prevent further damage to neighboring skin cells.

How to use vinegar to treat sunburn

The process of using vinegar to treat sunburn in quite simple. The first step involves cooling the affected area. This provides relief from pain as well as prevents severe damage to the skin tissue. Use cool running water and never use ice as it can lead to further tissue damage. After cooling, lightly dab the affected area dry with a towel.

Mix vinegar with water at a ratio of 1:1. The reason for doing this is that vinegar can sting if applied on sunburned skin. This is especially so if the skin has blisters which have broken.

Dip a soft cloth in your solution and lightly dab the affected area and let it dry. After this, apply moisturizer to protect the skin from being too dehydrated.

When is it best to use vinegar?

The best time to use vinegar for your sunburn is immediately you start experiencing symptoms such as redness, swelling and pain. These are the initial symptoms of sunburn.

What are the other measures to use alongside vinegar?

Sunburn of the second degree will typically take between 2 and 3 weeks to heal. Vinegar alone won’t completely relieve the condition. Some other measures to use alongside vinegar include the following.

Ensure that the sunburned area is covered and away from direct sunlight. Exposure can lead to more damage to the skin tissue.

Damage to the nerves will lead to pain in the affected area. Take anti inflammatory such as ibuprofen and aspirin to relieve pain.

Keep your skin hydrated by taking lots of fluids. Besides ensuring that further damage doesn’t occur in the sunburned area, hydration also promotes the development of new skin cells to replace the damaged ones.

One of my friend’s boys cannot enjoy the sweetness of bread. According to his mother, he cannot take bread or any baked foods because he is allergic to yeast. To keep him from having yeast based allergic reactions, the family usually avoids giving him any foods that might have a trace of yeast in them. That story is shared by millions of people across the globe and the number is still rising. The same can be said about corn allergies which are also on the rise. Ill look at what causes these allergic reactions in the body, some of the symptoms and treatments.

What causes allergic reactions?

An allergy is the body’s reaction to non harmful substances it considers invaders. As a result, it releases chemicals such as histamine which work by repelling the substance. Histamine has several effects on the body including inflammation.

Since the body will react abnormally to a harmless substance, the substance has to be initially recognizable by the body’s immune system. As such, the substance has to be present inside the body. From this, any autoimmune reaction such as yeast allergy actually develops over time. In most cases, the affected person will have a hard time trying to identify the causing agent since it might be something they consume daily.


The symptoms of an allergic reaction will vary from one person to another. How severe the reaction is will also depend on how much histamine the body produces to get rid of the allergy trigger. Some common symptoms found in both yeast and corn allergies include the following.

Swelling in the throat, tongue, lips and face is usually one of the initial signs of an allergic reaction to either yeast or corn. The swelling is the result of inflammation caused by histamine buildup in the oral tract in preparation of elimination of the causing agent.

Gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and nausea are also a common symptom found in both types of allergies. This can also be accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting as the body tries to get rid of the yeast or corn.

Another common symptom associated with both allergy types is the development of a skin rash. The rash is usually itchy and inflamed.

Difficulty breathing and dizziness are also associated with yeast and corn allergies. These conditions arise when the airways become constricted due to swelling.

One of the more severe yeast and corn allergy symptoms is anaphylaxis. This is a condition where the respiratory system goes into shock and breathing becomes impossible. It is usually quite rare but there are recorded cases of deaths resulting from this allergy symptom.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment of either corn or yeast allergy usually involves taking medications to counter the effects of histamine. In severe cases where the patient goes into anaphylactic shock, emergency medical treatment is necessary since the condition is life threatening.

Preventive measures usually involve avoiding products which contain either allergen. This however can be difficult since yeast and corn are included as ingredients in many food and medical products.

A while ago, I came across a high school friend that I hadn’t seen for years. It was a great moment for me as it offered the opportunity to catch up. For her however, it was more or less an uncomfortable moment. She spotted a red bump on the bridge of her nose. I noticed it was an acne breakout but didn’t want to probe on the issue further since I didn’t want to offend her.

During our conversation, she happened to mention about the acne nodule on her nose. “It’s nothing. You should have met me when I had acne on my scalp.” She said lightheartedly. “Acne on the scalp?” I wondered. Id never heard about this condition so I went on to further research it. Since both affected my friend at some time, I’ve decided to between these two types of acne.

How do the conditions develop?

Acne is a condition that affects the skin. It develops when sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria accumulate in the pores of the skin clogging them. The result is a slight bump on the skin which can be inflamed or not.

Nodular acne occurs when the pimple that forms from a non inflammatory form of acne grows in size and goes untreated. As such, the walls of the pimple might collapse spilling the contents deep into skin tissue. The result is a raised pimple that’s inflamed and large.

Scalp acne on the other hand develops when bacteria, dead skin cells and skin oils accumulate within hair follicles clogging them. The result is a red inflamed bump that surrounds a single hair.


Although both are inflammatory types of acne, there are three major differences between them. First, acne nodules develop on skin pores while acne on the scalp develops in the hair follicle. Second, acne on the scalp develops closer to the surface of the skin than nodules. Third, acne on the scalp appears as small pimples while nodules are usually larger and about 1 inch in diameter.


Both being inflammatory types of acne, the main symptom is intense itching and swelling in the affected area. The inflammation might create a sensation of heat as the body tries to combat the bacteria. Another common symptom is redness in the affected area. One symptom that’s unique to acne of the scalp is that it can lead to loss of hair if damage to the hair follicle occurs.

Treatment options

It’s usually recommended that you try and treat the acne from within your body. The reason for this is that acne development is linked to what you include in your diet and lifestyle factors. Eating a diet rich in vitamins and zinc which are essential for your skins normal functioning will place you on the path of quick recovery.

Topical treatments are also available. These serve different functions including unclogging the pores, exfoliating dead skin cells and killing bacteria. Some of the popular and effective topical acne treatments available for these two conditions include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Since childhood, I’ve always been drawn towards people with personalities that aren’t too radical. I prefer people who are peaceful and want to create lasting mutual relationships. Such people just give me an energy boost even when I’m down. I’ve come to learn that there are sixteen personality categories. Each person falls into one of these categories. This led me to do some research into the personalities I’m drawn towards and found two that fit the description, infp and enfj personality types. I’ll look at these in a little more detail.

The enfj

The enfj is a fairly small group comprising about 2% of the population. Amazingly, this 2% comprises our leaders and influencers. These include teachers and politicians. What draws me towards this personality type is their willingness to help other people out. People under this category will show genuine interest and concern for others.

The enfj is an excellent communicator and is driven by principles. They won’t be afraid to communicate what they feel and think be it through emotion or by relaying facts.

Enfj relationships are grounded on the principle of making their partners happy. The enfj personality will seek out a partner with a goal of having a lasting relationship. Due to the fact that they want their partners to be happy, the enfj won’t hesitate to keep track of the relationship and get regular confirmation from their partner that everything’s ok.

This personality type tends to want to avoid conflict. They will do what it takes to avoid confrontations with their partner. One shortcoming of this trait is that partners might end up viewing the enfj as needy and overly protective of the relationship. If a relationship fails, the enfj will be filled with a sense of guilt and see themselves as the reason why the relationship hit the ground. This is even if they aren’t the cause of the ended relationship.

The infp

The infp is also a fairly small group that comprises around 4% of the population. This group comprises the artistic type that tends to see the brighter side of things even when they look grim. A particular trait that draws me towards this personality type is their sense of virtue and principle. Their actions aren’t based on the outcome but on whether the action has a sense of right in it.

This personality type is a good communicator and will usually use art as a way of expression. Interested in the world around them, they are excellent learners and will even try to learn a couple of languages to communicate more effectively.

Infp relationships are grounded on the principle of loving all but trusting a few. They tend to choose a few people whom they can get into a relationship with. If chosen as a partner, you can be assured that the infp is looking for a lasting and mutual relationship. This personality type is continuously seeking the perfect relationship and will work towards achieving this goal.

Interestingly, the infp will respect their partner’s independence while still trying to help them improve. Like the enfj, this personality type is diplomatic and avoids conflict at all cost.

About a month ago, I accompanied a friend of mine to the podiatrist. Her foot was swollen from a sprain. The pain was so severe she had to use crutches. As she was being attended to, I took time to explore the podiatrist’s office and came across some interesting charts on the walls. These were describing different foot conditions. One of these was sinus tarsi. I took time to read the chart and learned a lot about this condition. Its symptoms were similar in a way to those on my friend. Some of the things I learned about this condition include the following.

What is sinus tarsi syndrome?

Sinus tarsi is a clinical condition that affect the sinus tarsi cavity located between the ankle and heel bone. This cavity contains ligaments and joint capsule which play a role in foot stability.

What causes this condition?

There are two main causes of this condition. The most common cause is a sprained foot where the ankle rolls out. Another common cause is repetitive strain on the ligaments in the sinus tarsi caused by walking or running on a flat foot.

sprained foot

Some of the factors that contribute largely to the development of sinus tarsi include muscle weakness in the foot. Inappropriate footwear with an excessively flat foot can also contribute to this condition. Poor flexibility of the foot can affect its motion which can lead to straining of ligaments in the sinus tarsi cavity. Other contributing factors include poor training and poor foot biomechanics.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop this condition. However, athletes are the most vulnerable as their trades usually demand abnormal twisting of the foot.

What are the symptoms?

The common symptoms of this condition are pain and swelling around the sinus tarsi cavity. The patient may also experience tenderness in the tissue around this area. Symptoms are usually more severe in the morning and will disappear as the patient walks.

How is the condition treated?

From what I learned, most patients with this condition will heal successfully when placed under a physiotherapy program. The time it takes to completely heal largely depends on the severity of the condition and patient compliance. It can take anything between a few weeks and months.

Some of the procedures involved during the physiotherapy program include the following. First, the patient is required to rest the affected foot from any activities which cause pain. This includes walking and crutches may be required. The patient then undergoes the RICE regime which includes rest, application of ice, application of pressure through compression and, elevating the affected foot. After symptoms disappear, the patient then undergoes flexibility and strengthening program where the foot is gradually reintroduced to normal activity. Other treatment options for this condition include orthoses, appropriate footwear, painkillers for the inflammation and, exercising the foot.

Only in severe cases is surgery recommended as a treatment method. In this case, the pediatrician will make their recommendation after ensuring that all possible treatment methods have been ineffective and surgery will be the only way to correct the condition.