The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Acid Reflux Diet

If Acid Reflux is a Problem for You, This Book Will Become Your New Best Friend

A few members of my family have had nightmarish experiences with acid reflux. After watching what they go through, I marked this condition as one I pray I never experience.

I do, however, have a great source of information, help, tips, and recipes for my loved ones as well as you. It’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet and it can help sufferers enjoy eating and life again!

This is another one of the excellent “The Complete Idiot’s Guides” that I was sent to review.  I love these books so much, I have an entire book shelf that’s orange. I pass them around for others to enjoy, then they come home to roost on the shelf. I pluck them off regularly to find information or recipes.

Seriously, you should begin your own collection of these outstanding books.

If you or someone you know has acid reflux, by all means you’ll want to start your collection with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet!

From the Back Cover:

If you live with acid reflux, you know how painful it can be – the burning, nausea, bloating, and sleepless nights.  But there’s good news! You can reduce and even eliminate your symptoms with a few healthy diet and lifestyle changes and enjoy eating again!

Packed with tips for treating and relieving your acid reflux- plus over 140 delicious recipes that won’t aggravate your symptoms – this helpful guide gives you everything you need to know to be free of acid reflux for good.  In it, you get:

  • A look at how your digestive system works, what causes acid reflux, and common symptoms you might experience.
  • Advice on keeping a food journal to help identify and eliminate your “trigger” foods.
  • Nutritional notes on the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you need and how they can help – or hurt – in your battle against acid reflux.
  • Tips for preparing digestion-friendly foods quickly and easily at home, plus suggestions for avoiding reflux when dining out.
  • Over 140 mouthwatering recipes for acid reflux-free living, from breakfast to dessert.

Some of the chapters include:

  • What Causes Acid Reflux (a great education on the workings of the digestive system, who’s at risk for acid reflux, diagnosing acid reflux, when to seek help…)
  • Treating and Relieving Acid Reflux (includes herbal and plant-derived remedies, tips for sleep and managing stress, medications that help and medications that hurt…)
  • Weight Management with Acid Reflux (watching calories, the connection between acid reflux and weight, creating balance, healthy eating on a budget…)
  • Ensuring Your Success on the Acid Reflux Diet (protein and the Acid Reflux Diet, How much fat do you need?, good fat vs bad fat, carbohydrates, menu planning, exercise…)
  • Cooking and Dining Out Strategies (tasty flavor combinations, smart substitutions, “at the restaurant,” different cuisines, fast food, special occasions…)
  • Recipes for Reflux-Free Living (Breakfasts, breads, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrees, poultry, vegetarian main courses, pastas, grains, vegetables, desserts…)

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet will set you up for success because the book, itself is set up for success.  Everything is spelled out beautifully and simplistically. Each chapter sums up what the reader has learned with a recap the author calls “The Least You Need to Know.”

Each time I read a Complete Idiot’s Guide, I think, “Why didn’t all those school books I read over the years use THESE authors and THIS approach?!”

If you or anyone you know experiences the evils of acid reflux, I strongly recommend this great book. I’ve used many of the recipes, myself, and I don’t even have acid reflux!  Click through one of the links for more information.

Check out the ridiculously impressive collection of The Complete Idiot’s Guides on Amazon. They cover just about everything you could possibly think of!

~ Joi

Listen to Your Body, It’s Trying to Tell You Something

Irony, Danny DeVito, and Gargling Glass

Plato Quote
Normally, I have a real fascination with irony.  Normally, there are few things that amuse me more than a deliciously ironic situation or occurrence.  I say normally because irony recently smacked me on the backside.

Without my consent.

As you may know, last month I decided to take part in a National Health Blogger’s Challenge.  Each day the blogger was to take the day’s “prompt” and write about something pertaining to health.  I was off to a smashing success and was having  a lot of fun with the process.  I was doing a lot of research about health-related topics, learning a lot of fascinating things, and generally having a great time with the entire process.

Then… what would irony dictate in such a situation? Exactly. I got sick.   Smack to the backside.

I won’t bore you with long details.  Long story, short – I had my thyroid removed in 1990 and, since that day, have had to take a daily supplement (a supplement to give my body what my non-existent thyroid cannot).  My daily medicine recently turned on me – giving me more than my body required.  This threw just about everything in my body off kilter and ultimately led to low iron and a host of other less-than-fun side effects.

For a few months, I haven’t felt totally like myself.  But you know how we wives and mothers are – the same things that would alarm us about our children and husbands.. we tend to overlook in ourselves.

  • Oh, I’m just tired…
  • I guess I haven’t been eating right…
  • Must be allergies…
  • I’ll give it another week…

When I realized that I had “enjoyed” recurring mouth ulcers for two months straight, I broke down and went to the doctor.  I would often have two HUGE mouth sores at once.  These weren’t your normal mouth ulcers, either.  I’ve had those before and, while they’re bad enough, these beasts were far worse. Once, I even got one on my tongue that looked like a small crater.  That dude hurt so bad, this non-drinker would have gotten snookered if it would have made me forget the pain for even 10 minutes.  Each time, in the middle of the night, as I sat on the bathroom counter putting Orajel on these sores, I’d think, “If I had access to hard liquor I’d drink until I thought I could fly.”

They were that bad.

Of course, since I have never drunk anything stronger than espresso, I’d probably think I could fly as soon as I opened the bottle.

Every meal hurt to eat, coffee hurt to drink, and life kind of sucked for a while.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night in hideous pain because my mouth would have dried out while sleeping and the sores would feel like salt had been poured into them.

Salt was actually one of the countless “home remedies” I tried – a particularly painful one.

In addition to the personal hell the mouth sores caused, I also had zero energy and – to use a highly technical phrase my daughters and I use when we don’t feel right –  simply felt “poopy” all day and all night.  I’d fall asleep at night right in the middle of favorite prime time television shows.  During the day, when I normally go back and forth between working in my home office and doing my regular housekeeping chores, I found myself not giving a dang about any of it. I normally go ALL OUT with Christmas decorations, but it was all I could do just to put the tree up this year.  And, believe me, that was a day long production.  Put a few limbs on… sit and play solitaire on my iPad… put a few decorations on…. lie down and recover.

I wasn’t ME and I wasn’t at all fond of the person impersonating me.  After all, I’m seldom ever still and this impostor seldom ever moved!

And all of this went down right in the middle of writing about health topics like how important it is to see a doctor regularly, how vital it is to take care of yourself, etc.

Smack. Right on the butt.

Ultimately, it was the mouth sores that led me and my hard head to the doctor.  Nothing like constant pain to break your will, is there?

The doctor was SO impressed with the size of the mouth sore I had at that time. I told him I was kind of lucky at that moment because I only had one. While he was admiring the size, I told him that it was actually the second largest one I’d experienced – that I’d had another one the size of Danny DeVito. He laughed and said he wished he’d seen that one.

I thought, “Me too.”  Then I probably wouldn’t have had the 3 that followed.

As my body and health begin to get back to normal, I’m realizing how puny I actually felt. How could I not have seen that something was wrong?!

That’s a question most of us ask in these situations, isn’t it?  We swear up and down that things “crept up on us” when the truth is, we knew it all along.  We just looked the other way.

Ladies, I honestly believe we are the worst about this.  It occurred to me when I was sitting in the doctor’s office – if one of my daughters or my husband had been experiencing painful mouth sores like I had, I would have dragged them kicking and screaming to the nearest doctor.  I’d have thought, “Something is wrong, here. This isn’t remotely normal.”

Yet, here I was the one going through it and I had a million reasons why I didn’t need to see the doctor.  Duh.

This would be a good time, in all fairness to my family, to point out that they had no idea I was going through all of this. If they had, they would have become impossible nags!  All they really knew was I’d had a few mouth sores.  They never saw how big they were and I did a great job of hiding the fatigue and weakness from them. Everyone always has a lot going on in their lives and I didn’t want anyone worrying about me.  Besides, I fully expected to start feeling like my old self any time.  After all….

  • Oh, I’m just tired…
  • I guess I haven’t been eating right…
  • Must be allergies…
  • I’ll give it another week…

Listen to Your Body

The body never lies.
In addition to my Self Help Daily, a food blog, and a cat blog, I have 9 other websites/blogs which happen to include a a Dream Interpretation Website.   Your’s truly is a dreamologist. Nothing crazy  like “You had a dream about snakes.. so you will be visited by bad luck…”  That’s nonsense.  What I do is “read” dreams – by “listening” to the dream symbols, the dreamer’s emotions during the dream, and other seemingly hidden details.  I can tell what’s behind the dream, as in what’s hidden in the subconscious mind.

And yet I couldn’t read what my own body was trying to tell me!  Or maybe I simply wouldn’t.

Either way, my mistake could have led to real trouble.  That’s why I’m writing all of this for you – on the off-hand chance there are other hard heads out there besides me.

If you find yourself EVER thinking, “I’m just not myself lately..” realize there is a reason for it.  Never allow this situation to continue for any amount of time.  After all, there are a lot of conditions that if (caught and treated early) won’t amount to anything, but if you ignore them, they can lead to something downright hideous.

In fact, because I let myself get so run down, I became an open invitation to a nasty bug that was going around.  I never, never get sick, but here I was – mouth sores, runny nose, bad cough, and the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life. It felt like I’d been gargling glass.

If I had gone to the doctor as soon as I realized I wasn’t myself, I’d have spared myself a lot of grief and pain.  It’s my hope that you’ll learn from my mistake and will always go to the doctor at the first sign of trouble.

Even if you find yourself feeling more tired than normal, don’t keep writing it off as something else.  What’s the worst thing that can happen? The doctor’s going to tell you your healthy?! If that were to happen – and I hope you’d swing by Starbucks to celebrate your good health – you still got information you can use.  If you get a clean bill of health, then you know that your lifestyle has to be held accountable. You aren’t getting enough rest, you need more nutrients, protein, and vitamins from food, or you’re running yourself ragged.

The trip to the doctor would have pointed you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, most of us try to weed out all of the things in our lifestyle, THEN go to the doctor.  The problem is, by then, we’ll just be more run down and if there IS a medical problem, it will have only gotten worse during that time.

Never take your health for granted. When it has been compromised, even slightly, you realize what a blessing good health is. Life is too delicious to spend one minute of it feeling less than your best.

Listen to your body. If it begins behaving in a way that’s alien to you, don’t make excuses, make an appointment.

~ Joi


The Next Book You Have to Read: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos, Ph.D.

Why We Have GOT to Get Moving!

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals
I’m asked the following question a lot, “What’s your favorite book?”  My answer?  “Besides the Bible, cookbooks, and every Agatha Christie mystery I ever met… my favorite book is the one I just read.”

Sounds trite, but there it is – the pure, plain, simple truth.

I love books a great, great deal.  They’re mentally stimulating – whether they’re a great mystery by Christie, an inspirational book by Max Lucado, a “Complete Idiot’s Guide to..” (love those!), or a self help book everyone…  or no one..  is talking about.

I recently finished reading Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. Not only is this the next book I hope YOU read, I hope it’s the next book you recommend to everyone you care about. The information is golden and, quite frankly, a little startling.

From the Back Cover:

Your Chair is slowly killing you.  But exercise alone isn’t the answer.  Easy, everyday, all-day movement will keep you healthy for life.

Medical studies show that too much sitting will shorten your life, even if you exercise.  No matter how much exercise we get, most of us spend hours each day immobile in our chairs, and we’re fatter, sicker, and more tired than ever before. Why isn’t exercise enough? What’s missing?


Dr. Joan Vernikos, former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, applies her groundbreaking NASA research on Gravity Deprivation Syndrome to everyday health here on Earth.

Your body needs to move in gravity to stay healthy.  In the near zero gravity of space, astronauts’ muscles and bones atrophy, as if they were rapidly aging.  Sitting all day at a desk, in long commutes, or in front of the TV is just like zero G – if you don’t move in gravity, you’ll suffer the same rapid aging as astronauts.

Astronauts are quickly restored to full health by returning to active life on Earth – and so can you.  Vernikos shows that the key to lifelong health is more than just traditional gym exercise, but a natural lifestyle of constant, natural movement that resists the force of gravity.

Vernikos’ easy-to-follow, commonsense plan shows how simple, everyday, fun activities like walking, gardening, dancing, golf, and more will keep you healthy, strong, and independent your whole life long.

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals is a fascinating read from page one.   Learning about the effects of gravity and “Gravity Deprivation Syndrome” literally made me stand up and pace as I read a great portion of the book!  I love the encouragement to move – for adults and children, alike.  As the author points out, children mimic what they see adults do. If children see active adults, they’ll tend to be more active, themselves. However, if they see inactive adults who rely too heavily on television, computers, and other forms of technology – they’ll probably mimic the inactivity as well.

Exercise is not a substitute for activities that come naturally throughout the day, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life. – Page 52

Among Other Things, the Book Includes:

  • Easy ways to “sneak” more activity into your day.
  • The benefits of stretching.
  • The 8 Fundamentals of G-Effective Activity.
  • How to create healthy habits that’ll keep your body from aging prematurely.
  • Stretches and Exercises to prevent muscle atrophy (remember, we’re dealing with a NASA expert here!).
  • The Health and Fitness Pyramid explained in detail.
  • How to completely relax.
  • Strength Training benefits.
  • The author’s expertise on gravity and exercise machines.
  • Gravity therapy and rehabilitation.
  • Helping the brain heal itself.
  • How to be a kid again and why you should!
  • Benefit of inversion (gets blood to the head).
  • Benefits of certain sports and activities.

Basically, you’ll gain a whole new way of looking at your health and life.  This is honestly a book unlike any other and I’m 100 percent certain it” effect your life and health positively.

See Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death – and Exercise Alone Won’t for more information. This one’s a life changer.

~ Joi

Surprising Health Benefits of Artichokes

It's Time for This Vegetable to Make Some Noise!

Artichoke Hearts

I’ve had an obsession with artichokes for years.   I can’t imagine anyone working them into their meals or recipes any more than I do. I guess someone who grows artichokes might… but that’s a might-y big might.  I work artichokes into and on to:

  • omelets
  • bean salad
  • pasta salad
  • tossed salad
  • lasagna
  • pizza
  • various vegetable casseroles
  • soups

I even tried them in a green smoothie once but I really don’t want to talk about it.

I love their flavor, the way they look, the way they smell, their name… I did tell you I was obsessed, right?

Oddly enough, even though I’ve been their biggest fan for half my life, I only recently researched the health benefits of artichokes.  I guess, truth be told, I wasn’t as concerned about how good they were FOR me as I was how good they were TO me.

It turns out that artichokes are high in antioxidants.  As a matter of fact, A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable. I’m pretty sure if you quizzed 100 people on the vegetable with the highest antioxidants, zero would say artichokes.

For a great article on the other health benefits of Artichokes, click the link. While on Health Diaries (one of my favorite websites, by the way), read about other foods and their health benefits.

~ Joi

You May Not Find Them in a Medical Book…

But Don't Even Try Telling Me These Don't Improve Your Life!

Janie in a box

Health Prompt for the Day: Write about your favorite thing that is not health-related but likely improves your life.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to writing about something that improves life, I choose animals as one of my subjects. If you know me, you know that animals light my world up.  The little black beauty in the pictures in this post is “Janie,” my oldest daughter and oldest son-in-law’s baby. She’s a character in every sense of the word!  Janie was a shelter kitten who needed them as much as they needed her. Instant laughter. Instant love. Instant family.

Some of the “prompts” for this health blogger’s challenge have been tough. Really tough.  We were given an tiny pool of “alternate” questions to choose from, if needed, and I’ve already dipped into the pool a few times. Problem is, their topics are also tough!

I’ll let you in on a little secret, though.  I love it! The extra little challenge it’s adding to my daily work routine is palpable.  I can feel my brain cells buzzing and trying to band together to come up with posts that are appropriate for my self help blog, my voice, and most importantly,  my readers.   I can see lot of the “prompts” deliciously fitting other voices, blogs, and readers – they simply don’t jive with any of us here.  Other prompts do, and those are the ones I use on most days. However, a few times, I’ve chosen a prompt that’s “dangerously close” and kind of worked with it, like clay, until it does fit me, Self Help Daily, and the most important part of the equation – you.

I’m excited about this particular prompt, because it’s a challenge in a different sort of way.  I have far more answers than I need!

Instead of choosing one of my answers and writing, at length, about it – I’m going to mention each one and write a few sentences about how they improve my life.  Naturally, my life isn’t the one you should be concerned about when you read through these.  I offer my experiences in the hope that they (or similar activities) can benefit your life as they have and do mine.

[toggle state=”open” title=”Self Help Cheat Sheets for Life!”] Naturally, when most health or self help bloggers write about anything involving themselves, it’s only done as an example to the reader.  If we write about our lessons in life (the ones where we mucked something up or the ones where we actually got it right), our habits (good, bad, indifferent), or other activities – it isn’t done to throw the spotlight on us, it’s done to tell others what we’ve found that works.  It’s as though life’s some incredible game – with the largest game board imaginable! Those who write about it are simply trying to show other “players” where they may run into trouble and – if they do – “tricks” that’ll help them back out. [/toggle]

Below are some of the things in my life which aren’t “health-related” but definitely improve my life:

1. Doing something I love. I work from home as a web publisher (a cool word which means that I am a web designer, web host, graphic artist, writer, affiliate marketer, blogger, and virtual assistant for a several business blogs.)  I never have to leave the house unless it’s a trip to the grocery store, Starbucks, or Subway. If I want to knock off early and watch a couple of Andy Griffith reruns with my inside cat, Alexa or go outside and watch birds with my outside cats Hannah and Fatima – I do. I’m able to “be” what I always wanted to “be” when I was growing up:  A wife, mother, and writer.  I never have to clock in – or out, for that matter. When it’s time to create a graphic, it’s like arts & crafts for me. When I need to write an article on one of my websites or blogs, it’s an opportunity for expression and creativity.  When I need to research a topic or topics for an article or post, I’m transported back to the library in high school. Except this time I don’t pass notes back and forth with my friends – I actually research, read, and learn!

No doubt you’ve picked up on the passion I have for what I do. That’s what I’m driving at.

What I do is not for every body.  I’ve seen some people completely lose it while trying to whip words into shape, figure their way around html, or creating graphics.  I once built a website for a man and the experience nearly cost both of us our marbles. He honestly obsessed over the shade of a particular color. I can’t tell you how many links went back and forth over this color.  When we moved past the shade of color, he obsessed over something else.  The man was a nightmare. At one point he finally said, “I think I should stay completely out of my businesses website operation. I’m not built for it.” I had to agree. He’d been such a handful that, although  extra money is always nice, I blew him off.  In his final e-mails  to me, he was basically saying, “I’ll just pay you and you do what you want with the site each month,”  I told him that he was 100 percent right about leaving the website details to others and that his time was much more valuable elsewhere.  Then I told him I was certain he could find someone to help him – and that’d I’d even help him find someone if he needed it.

It was a polite Southern gal’s way of saying, “Don’t go away mad, just go away.”

I have the luxury of telling people to “bugger off” without being called into anyone’s office. None of my cats have offices, so I’m safe.

What I do isn’t for everyone, but it is most definitely for me.  I absolutely love it – even on the most hectic days.

If you think about the number of hours you spend working each week, it won’t take long to realize how important it is to do something you absolutely love.  It’s good for you psyche, your emotional health, and your physical health.

I also love the fact that what I do for the better part of my weekdays stimulates my brain and encourages creativity.  I am unbelievably thankful that I don’t spend most of my days doing something that would permit my brain to just kind of rot.  Gross way of putting it, but you know what I mean.

[toggle state=”open” title=”Brain Atrophy”] If your job doesn’t stimulate your brain or encourage creativity, be sure to include extra activities in your life that do. Take up sports and/or hobbies that require creativity and logic. Always learn new things, and never stop trying to grow, mentally. Read often, watch educational television programs, and always be mindful of… well.. your mind. [/toggle]

Janie and Mouse

Janie with a toy mouse I bought for her. Janie’s silky hair might be the softest thing I’ve ever felt.

2. Happy Marriage and Family Relationships. I have a very happy marriage and my relationships with my three beautiful daughters and two sons-in-law are excellent. I also find that I’m on excellent terms with my furry daughters (cats) as well.  My family is filled with a cast of characters so loony you’d think they came from a sitcom’s casting agency.  We all just blend together beautifully – with no judging, back-stabbing, or ill will. There’s tons of laughter and very, very, very little drama.

When given the choice between comedy and drama, we choose comedy every time.

When I hear about couples who bicker and fight all the time, I always think, “How miserably unhealthy!” Mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Strained relationships – when one person practically walks on eggshells for fear of triggering the other’s anger, ridicule, and/or mouth – are harder on the heart that most imagine. The constant stress, the high levels of anxiety, and the complete inability to simply relax and be yourself – it all sounds like hell to me.

When people find themselves in this type of situation, they need to realize that something has to change – something has to give.  If it’s a relationship that can’t be broken (say, you’re kin to one another!), then you MUST find a way to make it work.

As beautiful as the word PEACE is, the PEACEFUL life is even more beautiful.  And it’s so healthy!

3. P.E.T.S! Having pets is one of the healthiest choices you can make.  They fill your life with so much joy, love, and happiness.  Not long ago, my e-mails with a friend I made through Self Help Daily were centered around one thing: She wanted, desperately, to know how to deal with empty nest syndrome.  Her sadness and loneliness came through each line. I told her, early on, that she needed a pet or two!  She knew she was dealing with a bonafide animal lover and said she expected me to say that!

About 2 weeks after her initial e-mail, she and her husband went to their local animal shelter and brought home three  kittens who lost their mom.  They went with the intention of adopting one baby and walked out with three because they couldn’t stand leaving two behind.  I asked her, “Do you even know how much I love you right now?!?!”

I had seen her last sad e-mail. She’d, from then on, talk about…

  • how wonderful it is to see the three of them slide across the linoleum floor when she came home from work
  • how she and her husband loved to buy them special treats and toys at the store
  • how her husband (a “dog person”) instantly became a “cat person”
  • how it’s fun to see toys lying around the house again
  • how her cats are like having a houseful of toddlers

Last I heard, she was looking forward to seeing how they react to her Christmas tree this year!

When I read her e-mail about bringing their babies home, I had tears in my eyes.  Not only did they save three precious animals and give them a “forever home” and “forever family,” the cats pretty much saved their new parents as well.  They made a home come alive again.

That’s a specialty pets have.

These are just a few of the things in my life that I know benefit me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  How about you? What things in your life aren’t necessarily health-related, but you KNOW they affect your health positively?  Is it your job, pets, family, hobbies, or something entirely different?

Is there anyone who feels that “where they live” benefits their health?


Emily walked into her dining room one day to find Janie falling asleep in a serving bowl. Because she is her mother’s daughter, Emily’s first thought was… I have to get a picture of this! Who falls asleep in a serving bowl?  Janie does, that’s who.

A life without cats? I’d never even consider it!
~ Joi

Ask Yourself: What Would a Vegetarian Eat?

Why You Should Eat Less Meat and More Vegetables

Bean Salad

My World Famous Bean Salad

I read a great deal about nutrition, heart health, diabetes, mental fitness, cancer prevention, and other health-related topics.  A lot of nights, I’ll look back over the things I learned that day and feel somewhat like a college student… right down to the coffee breath.

After years of this healthy research, I still marvel at the simplicity of the common thread: Food. For better or worse, we actually are (to a very large degree) what we eat. The food we put into our mouths today will show up on, and in, tomorrow’s scale, blood work, scans, x-rays, and lab work.

Some people say it’s expensive to eat healthy, but it can actually be a little bit cheaper – IF you know what to cut out and what to substitute with.  The same people who say it’s too expensive to eat a healthy diet will do so with a cart loaded down with ground beef, hot dogs, potatoes, and chips.  A quick trip to the produce aisle, bean aisle (does a cheaper food exist than bags of beans?!), and/or frozen food aisle could easily replace each of these unhealthy choices with healthier choices.  But why? Why should you eat less meat and more healthier foods such as beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains?

Health Benefits of Eating Less Meat

  • Heart Health.  Even the most aggressive and ambitious meat eater would have to agree that eating less meat reduces your risk of heart disease. He or she may do it begrudgingly, but if they’re remotely reasonable and remotely well-read, they’ll have to admit it. Fatty red meats and processed meats are high in saturated fat, which raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases risk of coronary heart disease.  Plus, this is kind of off the official health news grid… but, seriously, do we even KNOW everything that’s in all of the processed meats on the market?
  • Prevent Cancer.  I’ve read, for years, about the meat and heart disease connection. We all have. But I’m also reading more and more (as in almost daily) about the link between cancer and meat.  Cancer is one of the scariest health concerns of this or any time.  It’s like a monster under the bed – a huge, scary monster that no one really likes to talk about or even think about. And yet, there are many proactive things we can do to keep the monster from ever moving in! Wouldn’t we be dimwits NOT to take advantage of the information we have? The British Journal of Cancer published a ground-breaking study involving 35,000 women. The women who ate the most red and processed meat were found to have the highest risk of breast cancer. What’s more, research has linked meat consumption to colon, prostate, pancreatic, and gastric cancers in addition to breast cancer.  The Cancer Project, a non-profit group, explains it this way: Foods with high levels of fat artificially boost the hormones that promote cancer.
  • Weight Control.  When we replace meat with vegetables and fruit, we take in fewer calories (assuming, of course, our vegetable of choice isn’t mashed potatoes loaded with so much cheese you attract the attention of mice from 8 counties).   Even when we think we’re making healthy meat choices, we shoot ourselves in the foot by having the meat fried.  No one can look at a pan filled with melted shortening and think that’s healthy. When we control our weight, we slash our risk of a whole plethora of diseases from diabetes to hypertension.
  • Brain Health. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. So a heart-healthy diet is your first weapon against Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and memory loss.  Your brain loves the healthy nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables, while (like your heart) it is bruised by processed meat, fried foods, and fatty red meat.  Brain health is something everyone should think about as much as heart health.

It has never been easier to eat more meatless meals than it is today. Boca Burgers, Morningstar Farms, and a host of other meat substitutes are actually downright delicious.  Be sure to not go overboard, though, you’ll want to keep an eye on the sodium.  Throw Boca Crumbles into spaghetti sauces, chili, homemade soup, sloppy joes, Manwiches, etc.  No one will ever know… trust me. I use these meat substitutes regularly. They’re delicious!  I’m especially wild about Morningstar Farms’ Black Bean Burgers. Heat them in a little olive oil and eat them on a wheat bun with picante sauce – absolutely out of this world.

One of the biggest health benefits (or opportunities) of eating less meat may be the fact that it’ll cause you to eat more of the foods that are beneficial to your health. If you aren’t filling up on  fatty red meat or processed meats, you’ll eat more green vegetables, beans, whole grains, and fruits.

Something I’ve started doing is ridiculously simple:  Before eating a particular food, I ask myself, “How will this benefit my health?”  If a great answer doesn’t present itself, I skip it and find an option that does come with a great answer.  For example, a few days ago I was out around lunchtime (shopping for one of my daughter’s birthday!).  It was almost time to return home when I approached a favorite fast food restaurant.  As if they weren’t tempting enough, the sign out front reminded me that one of their juiciest sandwiches was on sale right now.  In the time it took me to drive past it, I realized the sandwich provided ZERO nutritional value to off set its calories.  ZERO.

Some people visualize red meat or fried foods clogging their arteries. I’d have to admit that’d be pretty effective too!

I drove by the fast food restaurant and came home.  I made myself a bowl of tomato soup (thank you Campbell’s) and a spinach, carrot, and red onion salad.  I got JUST as full as I would have gotten with the big greasy sandwich but I didn’t have the “side” that comes with it.  Not fries…… I’m talking about the distasteful side of guilt.  The one that eats at you all day.  As it was, after my heart healthy soup and salad, I FELT lighter and healthier.

It’s an absolutely addictive feeling.

My Bean Salad (pictured at the top): When I make bean salad, which is often because my husband loves it, I sneak in extra vegetables like celery, onion, artichoke hearts, carrots, and sometimes even chopped spinach.  Heart healthy Olive Oil is also used in the salad, which only adds to its nutritional value.  There’s something incredibly filling and satisfying about beans.  When you’re trying to eat less meat, you’ll sometimes have that unmistakable craving where your brain says, “Buddy, give me some meat!”  Beans will satisfy this craving. Without the unhealthy side side of guilt.

~ Joi

Preventing Prediabetes and Diabetes

Tips from South Beach Diet

Vegetables: A Weapon in the battle against Diabetes!

One of the scariest diseases of all is diabetes.  If, like me, you’ve seen it up close and personal in a family member, you know that diabetes doesn’t play well with others. Can it be lived with? Absolutely. Can you still have a full, beautiful, and wonderful life? Of course!  But it’s no picnic and those of us who don’t have prediabetes or diabetes today would be fools if we didn’t do ALL we can to make sure we don’t have it tomorrow.

According to South Beach Diet, our weight, level of activity, and food are HUGE contributing factors that decide our risk of getting diabetes.  The good news, of course, is that we can obviously control these things.

Below are the foods recommended by the South Beach Diet – foods that’ll help you keep diabetes off of your radar.  I’ve thrown in my own two cents (in italics, to separate me from the experts) with tips for preparing, enjoying, and actually eating (!!!) these foods.

  • Eat plenty of whole grains:  brown rice, barley, quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, slow-cooking oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, and 100% whole-grain breadBrown rice and whole-wheat pasta can be enjoyable. It’s all about adding flavor. With brown rice, I love to throw in slivered almonds. Whole-wheat pasta’s a little bit more challenging. Personally, I don’t love the smell.  That’s easy to take care of, however, with combinations of garlic, basil, thyme, and even red pepper. Barley can be added, effortlessly, to just about any kind of soup imaginable and as for quinoa? Try it! It’s versatile and fun to cook with.  Whole wheat bread takes one simple trick: Buy it instead of white bread. If it’s the only bread you have, it’s the only bread you’ll eat.  I actually like, and prefer, wheat bread with everything now.
  • Eat lots of beans and legumes. Fall in love with beans!  Just be sure you don’t throw in a pound of bacon or bacon grease, please. This all but cancels out the good you’ve done.  Flavor beans with onion, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and (my favorite) liquid smoke (in the aisle with BBQ sauce). Beans are heavenly with cornbread and green onions. You won’t miss the bacon, I promise.
  • Enjoy a lot of vegetables, prepared using healthy cooking methods such as steaming, sautéing, or grilling.  Don’t drown your veggies in creamy, rich sauces or butter. The same rules that apply to bacon apply to these sauces – you cancel out the good.  My fave way to fix most vegetables is in my bamboo steamer. Delicious.
  • Consume whole, fresh fruits like berries, apples, and/or citrus fruits.  Buy fresh fruit and enjoy it often. Grab an apple on the way out the door instead of a pastry or candy bar. Make fresh fruit salads for dessert and snacks.  My family LOVES smoothies made with fresh fruit as well as fresh fruit served in yogurt. The natural sweetness of fruit, honestly, makes a great after-dinner choice.
  • Include nonfat or low-fat dairy in your diet, such as fat-free or low-fat milk, plain or artificially sweetened low-fat soy milk, and nonfat or low-fat plain yogurtIf you serve fresh fruit in a whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, you’ll be a diabetes-fighting ninja.
  • Focus on lean proteins, like skinless poultry or turkey breast, and lean cuts of meat, as well as fish and shellfish. Remember, though, that preparation matters. Fall in love with baked and grilled meats as opposed to fried food.
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats; instead, choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil and canola oil, for example, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish like salmon and sardines, soybeans, flaxseed, and walnuts.  When you put your mind and palate to it, you can find endless ways to use olive oil. I even cook my eggs in olive oil now instead of butter. That’s a giant step for a southerner, trust me. I also love to slice tomatoes and mozzarella and drizzle them with a little olive oil and fresh basil.  Here’s an alternative for traditional garlic bread for pasta night: First of all, buy a loaf of whole wheat Italian bread.  Bake the bread as directed, with no butter.  In a platter, pour out a little olive oil and dust the top of the oil with freshly ground black pepper.  Delicately dip your bread into this flavorful concoction in lieu of butter.  You can even buy flavored olive oil for this purpose. YUM!

See all South Beach Diet Tips.

Adding More Activity to Your Day
One of the best tips I ever heard concerning activity and exercise basically is this: Your body doesn’t know whether you’re in the gym or in your living room. Just move! If you’re cleaning house or raking the yard, your body’s getting exercise and that’s what’s important. It’s as simple as adding more movements and steps into your daily routine. March in place while watching television, walk the long way to everything you need in stores, park further from the door, adopt a dog (or two) from an animal shelter and fall in love with the joy of taking dogs for walks each day.

RxmindMe Prescription Reminder App

Never Forget Your Medication Again!

RxmindMe Prescription Reminder App

If, like me, you have medicine(s) you have to take everyday, you know that it’s a lot easier to forget them than you’d imagine.  I’ve been taking a daily pill all of my life. For half my life, it was an asthma pill. Then my asthma got MUCH better and just about the time I was able to stop taking a pill for my breathing, I had to start taking one for my thyroid.

No biggie, really. I’m just thankful that pills exist when we need them. However, when I’m particularly busy, it’s VERY easy to forget to pop that little yellow pill.

At least, it used to be easy to forget.  That’s before I found one of the most ingenious and helpful apps of all time: The RxmindMe Prescription Reminder.   I’ve set the reminder to remind me each morning at 8:00 and I haven’t missed a dose in months.  The notification comes with a non-intrusive sound – just a friendly little reminder to take your medicine.  The funny thing is, since I downloaded and began using the app, I normally remember just before it reminds me.

It’s as though it has programed me!

RxmindMe allows you to create nine different types of reminders (From

  • Daily reminders, ones that can occur on any day of the week
  • Weekly reminders, like daily reminders, but you can set weekly repeat intervals
  • Monthly reminders, monthly reminders that occur on a specific date during the month
  • Monthly reminders, monthly reminders that occur on a specific day of the week of a specific week of the month – for example, the last Friday of the month
  • Our new Every “X” Days reminder, repeats every few days
  • Hourly reminders for specific hourly intervals
  • As needed reminders which are taken infrequently
  • On specific dates, reminders that you want to occur on specific dates – for example the 28th of November
At least, this app is a convenient reminder to spare you the headaches of wondering “if” you’ve taken this medication or that.  When you take the medicine you’re being reminded to take, you simply touch a box – where a check mark appears.  Until you’ve done so, the app stays marked – alerting you to the fact you haven’t had your medicine.  At most, this app could, literally, be a lifesaver.

Making your life easy

RxmindMe includes:

  • Nine different types of reminders
  • A Passcode Lock screen for your privacy
  • Multiple types of alert sounds
  • Photos of your prescriptions
  • Email your prescription history
  • The FDA Drug Database for easy searching of medications
  • Historical records of all your reminders and prescriptions
  • Multitasking
  • Fast App Switching
  • iPhone 4 / iPod touch 4 – Retina Graphics
  • Snoozing Capabilities, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours
  • Ability to add multipule prescriptions / pills / vitamins / medications to a single reminder
If you or someone you love takes daily medication(s), you really have to download this free app.   It’s outstanding.

Prevention Magazine’s 20 Ways to Prevent Cancer

A Lot of Prevention is Within Our Reach

Prevention Magazine’s excellent website has a very interesting (and potentially life-saving) feature called 20 Ways to Prevent Cancer Certain cancer-fighting foods and other healthy habits can dramatically lower your cancer risk.  By now, we’re all pretty aware of the basics:

  • Avoid too much sun exposure, including tanning beds.
  • Eat right – healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains…
  • Get some form of exercise each day

The list compiled by Prevention’s editors, however, points out A LOT more things we can do to keep this monster at bay. Many of the tips will leave you with your jaw hanging open, simply because they’re things we’re guilty of almost daily. However, armed with the information today, we can change our ways and make our tomorrows much healthier.

Below are a few of the 20 Ways to Prevent Cancer:

  • Filter Your Tap Water. “You’ll reduce your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals.” – Prevention
  • Caffeinate Every Day. “Java lovers who drank 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer, compared with people who drank the least, in a 2010 British study. A 5-cup-a-day coffee habit reduces risks of oral and throat cancer almost as much.” –  Prevention (I’m ALL over this one!)
  • Water Down Your Cancer Risk. Drinking lots of water (filtered) lowers your risk of getting bladder cancer.
  • Walk to Prevent Breast Cancer. “Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts risk of breast cancer 18%.” – Prevention

To learn 16 more blockades that you can place between yourself and cancer, be sure to read the entire article: 20 Ways to Prevent Cancer Certain cancer-fighting foods and other healthy habits can dramatically lower your cancer risk.

A Must Have App if You’re Counting Calories

I Love this App!

Fast Food App

My daughter Emily and I were having lunch not long ago at Applebee’s in Owensboro.  We’re both becoming more and more health conscious and try not to consume more than our day’s share or allotted calories.  To that end, not long ago, I downloaded the Fast Food Calorie Counter App and use it religiously. This app has the foods listed for 106 different restaurants (including every fast food chain you can think of). It’s fast and easy to use and can help you make smarter decisions.

USUALLY (you know how those usuallys go), I consult my app before I even leave the house – so I have a game plan before I even touch the menu. However, this time we didn’t even decide where we were eating until we were practically in the parking lot!  As we sat at the table, we’d both just about made up our minds when I decided to “double check” our choices – choices that seemed innocent enough.  Can you say, “Nearly a day’s entire allottment of calories in one meal?!?!

We wanted no part of that, so we entirely switched gears and made MUCH smarter and healthier choices.  Emily, right then and there, asked me what app I’d just used and downloaded it to her iPhone on the spot.

Most people simply have no idea the number of calories they’re consuming.  We tend to take in a whole lot more calories than we realize, especially when eating out.  If you don’t have a device for using apps, do the next best thing – either buy a book that lists calories in restaurant foods or get into the habit of visiting a restaurant’s website before you even leave the house.  You’ll be absolutely amazed by the number of calories in the food you’ve been eating!  They add up ridiculously and are contributing to the growing problem we face with obesity and diabetes.

Below are a few shockers:

Applebee’s Reuben Sandwich – 1,150 calories

Applebee’s California Turkey Club – 920 calories

Applebee’s side of onion rings – 530 calories

Applebee’s side of French Fries – 400 calories

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Rollup – 1,140 calories

Applebee’s Chicken Fajita Rollup – 560 calories

Applebee’s Chicken Parmesan – 1400 calories

Applebee’s Crispy Orange Chicken – 1510 calories

Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken – 1140 calories

Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine – 1530 calories

If you add the side of fries to the sandwich or rollup, you’ll see how an innocent looking lunch becomes a nightmare!

Some better choices at Applebee’s:

Applebee’s Weight Watchers Cajun Lime Tilapia – 350 calories

Applebee’s Spicy Pineapple Glazed Shrimp and Spinach – 310 calories

Applebee’s Black Bean Soup – 190 calories

Steak & Grilled Shrimp Combo – 530 calories

Applebee’s Chicken Caesar Salad – 300 calories

Applebee’s has an OUTSTANDING “Under 550 Calories’ Menu that I use just about every time. Each item on this menu is exceptional – and as filling as any of the other meals boasting much higher calories.  It isn’t applicable at Applebee’s, but if you’re eating at a restaurant that keeps a steady stream of bread coming to your table, be sure to calculate each roll or bread stick into your meal.  As a country, we’re simply eating way too many calories.

Something I’m trying to get better at is avoiding appetizers – we’re talking hundreds (often upon hundreds) of extra, unnecessary calories.  Most appetizers aren’t good for you in any way whatsoever. It’d be much wiser to simply order a side salad if you’re starving and anticipate a wait.  I have no idea why, but appetizers are SUCH a weakness for me – even more so than desserts.

Here’s the link to the wonderful calorie counter app for fast food.  I wouldn’t dream of leaving home without it!