Heartburn cure

I had bad heartburn and talked to my nutritionist. He told me that the problem is that our stomachs produce LESS acid as we get older, not more. The solution is to add more acid instead of take antacids.

The dosage is determined by taking a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar (The brand to use is Bragg’s, with “the mother”) after a meal. Simply take it straight. Wait. If you feel burning in your stomach, stop there. You don’t need more acid added to your diet.

If not, take two spoonfuls of it at the next meal. Wait and see how your stomach feels. There will be a burning sensation in your throat – that is normal. This is acetic acid, after all. You want to see if you feel burning in your stomach, and this takes a little time to reveal itself.

If there is no burning, repeat the test by taking three spoonfuls at the next meal. You can take up to four spoonfuls.

When you feel the burn, then your dosage is one less than that. So afterwards, take that number of spoonfuls in a glass of water (you can add a spoonful of honey), after each meal.

Also, while out and about, you can take a supplement called betaine hydrochloride instead. It is much easier than toting around a glass bottle of vinegar.

Now, this does not mean that you can “eat like a kid again” like the heartburn medicine ads tell you. It is like trying to keep a house intact by setting it on fire and then dousing it with water. It is better to not set it on fire in the first place. Your body is your first and best home. It is important to treat it well, because you can’t buy another house when this one falls apart.

It is insane to think of hot dogs and funnel cakes as “food”. Avoid fried and greasy foods not because they give you heartburn, but because they are unhealthy and will kill you. Eat fresh, colorful foods – more vegetables than meat.

Time and calories and money

I’m for an accounting of time and money the same as how some people account for calories. I think it’s important for all of us to be mindful.

I know a guy who started to write again after his wife died. He started to write very good insights about our relationship with God. But then he died seven weeks after she died. He didn’t have time to write everything that he wanted to write. But then again, why did he wait so long to get started?

We never know when we are going to die. Every single day that you have is a gift that is given to you. It is important that you use it wisely.

When people say they don’t have time to write or to exercise, that is not true. Everybody has the same amount of time – it just depends on what you do with it. Just like with calories, it is important to be mindful about what you do. Do you hit the snooze button five times in the morning? Do you go out for lunch every day? Do you sit and watch three hours of television at night? Everything adds up.

You can find ways to use your time better. You can use dictation software while you walk. To learn something, you can listen to a nonfiction audiobook or podcast on your way to work. You can take your lunch to work and go for a walk at lunch. In giving up eating out, you’ll have enough money in order to afford the gym.

The old saying is true – you’ll either find a way or find an excuse.

The only way to find spare money and spare time is to start writing down what you do. It is the same thing people do to learn how to eat better. It is the best way to become mindful and aware. No one else has to see it. It is important that you are accountable and honest to yourself.

I knew a guy who was trying to save money. The newest video game came out and he immediately bought it. And I said how are you going to pay for it? It cost $40. He said “But I wanted it.” Like that made a difference in a budget. Of course he wanted it – the problem is how are you going to afford for it?

We cannot become (or remain) animals who mindlessly take whatever we want. The definition of being human is being able to control our appetites. If we are unable to stop ourselves doing whatever we want then we are just like zombies. We are in human shape but we don’t have any self-control. We are wild ravenous beings.

When you see someone who has gotten famous or done something amazing it isn’t an accident. They worked very hard to make that happen. Just like how water wears away the stone we have to work day by day and minute by minute to achieve our goals.

There is no shortcut to being awake – but there are a bunch of little steps. You can’t take a pill to get healthy or strong or famous, but you can do a little bit every day towards your goal and you’ll get there.

In whose hands?

Some of us started talking about our deceased coworker, and I mentioned that his death of a heart attack at 42 just furthers my belief that I need to take care of myself. I said this to the coworker in my department who is obese. She has a Y membership and has been maybe four times. The last time was about a year ago. She eats the same way that the dead one does. About monthly she says she “really needs to go back to the Y.” And she never does.

She said “It is all in God’s hands.”

No, it isn’t. We have free will, and sure, Jim Fixx, the guru of running, died of a heart attack. People die when God chooses. But they have a vote in it. They can take care of themselves. As my chiropractor says, we can’t add years to our life, but we can add life to our years.

We are called to be good stewards of God’s creation. This includes our bodies.

The other person in the department smokes constantly, and is out sick a lot.

I’m afraid I’ll be left by myself. I’m afraid they will both die and I’ll be stuck. It takes a long time to train a new person. We joke “It’s all about me” is our phrase in that department, and that sounds self-centered, and it is. But it is true.

But there is something deeper going on.

To not take care of yourself because you think that it is “all in God’s hands” is bizarre. Let’s compare it with the phrase “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” You shouldn’t do something you know to be stupid just to test God.

Honestly, I don’t know why I bother. They are killing themselves, and they know it. But to drag God’s will into it? That takes their own power out of it. It means they are helpless to do anything about it.

What a life of victimhood.

Preventive maintenance for the mind.

I envision a mental-health center, but like the Y. Not a hospital – not a place where you go when you are sick – but a place where you go to get strong. I want it to be a cultural norm that people go “work out” at a place that strengthens their spirit.

There are too many young boys who are killing people. There are too many people killing themselves, either fast or slow. There are too many people suffering in silence, “faking it” and not “making it”.

We need to take away the stigma of mental health. It is for everybody. It isn’t shameful to get help. It is bad to need help and not get it.

We all need help.

If we make it so it is a cultural norm that people seek to prevent problems, then we will save a lot of lives. And when I say “save lives” I don’t just mean from suicide and murder. I mean people will have lives worth living. There is a difference between “living” and “being alive”.

Here are some of my rough sketches.

A place where you can learn at your own pace or follow an assigned course.

Where you pay based on your ability to pay, or it is free.

People will learn that mind, body, and spirit are all connected. So, in a way, it is an extension of the Y, but has more things.

People can learn how to shop for healthy food choices and how to cook them.

People can learn how to exercise – how to find one that they like and can do – and will do.

They will get support for when (not if) they “fall off the wagon”.

Spiritual direction.

Group and one-on-one counseling offered.

Help each person find their unique gifts and talents and learn how to use them.

Job counseling – finding the right job to fit you.

Healthy approach to grief and death. Learn to understand that grief can accompany any loss – divorce, move, job loss.

How to deal with emotions, both good and bad. Healthy ways to process feelings.

Art and music as a way of life. Journaling classes.

People need to learn how to recover their spirits and build them up. Our souls, our spirits are like flames. If we let them die down, we are done for.

How to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Classes on codependence.

It will have AA and NA meetings – but for everybody and everything. We all self-medicate with something. We are all trying to get away from our pain with something. Nobody is immune to addiction.

Faith is healing too- there will be interfaith, nondenominational gatherings to celebrate and connect with the Divine/Creator/Spirit/God.

There are some agencies in Nashville that do some of these things. I suspect there are similar places in your own town. Perhaps a stop-gap would be to create a resource directory so people can access these, or at least know that they exist.

This isn’t just my calling. This is for all of us. If you are reading this, you are being called to it as well. We have to make mental health something that everybody works on. We have to remove the stigma about getting help. The well-being of our families, our friends, our neighborhood, and our world depends on it. How many more people have to die, either at their own hands or the hands of strangers, before we act?

True mental health hospital

I envision a new kind of rehab hospital for people who are mentally ill. Perhaps better said, it will be for people who don’t know how to be human. It will teach people how to take care of themselves. It will teach them how to live on their own in a healthy way.

Rehab shouldn’t just be about getting off drugs but about how to get on life.

People would be there to learn, so they would be students, not patients. “Patient” is a passive word – something is done to you. You are sick, an “in-valid” – a “not-true” person. The word “student” implies an active engaging in learning for self-betterment. Teachers, not therapists, are there to help students help themselves.

One of the most important things will be that students will learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. They will learn what food is healthy and how to buy and prepare it. Every person will learn how to cook. Every person will learn what foods are best for them. There will be a blend of nutritionists and home-economics teachers.

The teachers will find ways that the students can exercise in a way that they will enjoy and are able to do. Exercise is essential to mental health and happy bodies. Not every exercise is possible for every person, and not every person likes every exercise. The trick is to find one or two that the student likes and will stick with. Then they have to commit to doing it daily. Every little bit counts.

This whole idea that I’m envisioning is to teach people how to live in their own bodies as their own homes. Your body is your first and best house. If you don’t take care of it you will be miserable. I have learned from my own personal experience that mental health is directly related to physical health.

It is also important that they discuss what happens when you fall off the wagon. Perhaps the stigma needs to be taken away from falling off the wagon, because falling off the wagon is part of the journey.

For some people it wouldn’t be “re-hab” because there was no “hab” that happened to start off with. They never learned how to take care of themselves in the first place. It isn’t that they forgot, it is that that they never were taught.

Ideally, everyone would learn how to take care of themselves early on in life. Ideally, people wouldn’t have to wait for a crisis in order to learn that they have to take care of themselves.

Perhaps that is just simply part of our society. We seem to fix things after they are broken rather than prevent them from breaking in the first place. This is a habit that should be unlearned. People need to become pro-active about their lives.

Rehab needs to teach people healthy coping mechanisms for life. Students would learn about codependency and enabling and boundaries. They would learn how to be helpful in a way that is safe for them and for the person they are helping.

They would learn the value of volunteering. It is a way to put your own needs and problems into perspective, and to feel not only a part of the community, but a part of the solution to problems.

They would learn how to take care of their bodies and their minds at the same time and learn that they are not separate things. Through books, they would be introduced to teachers from all over the world and all across time. They all have useful information about this thing we call life. Most importantly, they would be given the tools to be able to learn more on their own.

My biggest dream is that rehab hospitals aren’t ever needed, because everyone has already been taught how to handle life’s ups and downs in healthy ways. But until then, we have some catching up to do.

The best medicine you can ever take is to not get sick in the first place. And the best way to do that is to learn how to take care of yourself through eating well, exercise, and learning to establish boundaries.


There is something called being a “fruitatarian”. There are several different levels of it but essentially it is someone who does not eat anything that has been killed. It has been jokingly said that vegetarians just eat things that cannot run away. If you eat broccoli, the plant dies. If you eat a tomato it does not. It is the fruit of a plant. You don’t have to kill the plant to eat it.

If you really care about the well-being of all living things then you have to understand that even plants are alive. Beans, nuts, seeds, grains, fruit and honey are all things that you can eat and nothing has to die for you to eat it. You could also eat eggs and milk. Those are gifts from the animal. The animal does not die.

Do I do this? No. Not yet. I’m working on it. But I think it is good to be mindful of my impact on this planet. How many beings have to die so that I can live? Is it wise to eat scallops instead of fish? One large fish can produce enough food for eight servings. One serving of scallops means that at least ten scallops died. Is that fair? Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of living. Who am I to say that my life is more valuable than theirs?

I saw a reality show once where the contestants had to hunt and clean their supper. The meat eaters were a bit squeamish. The vegetarian refused to do it. The host explained that if you are going to eat meat, you better understand that if you aren’t the one doing the killing, someone else is. Someone else had to do the dirty work. Someone else had to clean out the animal. Those nice little packets of meat that you buy at Publix? That animal was alive. It had a face. You can’t see it anymore because of how it is processed. This makes it easier to stomach, if you will.

If you can’t handle killing it and processing it, then maybe you should think twice about eating it. Or at least eat less of it.

In the biography of Saint Francis by Nikos Kazantzakis, Saint Francis often refused to eat because he felt that he should not cause the harm of any living being. Sometimes that meant that he got very ill because he was malnourished.

This is a hard choice. Who gets to live? You, or the other beings? With being a fruitatarian, you don’t have to choose. You can eat things that don’t result in a death. It is an interesting idea.

Studying for life.

Health isn’t like a test you can cram for. It is something that you have to “study” for every day or you will fail.

So many people want to get in shape but they don’t want to do the work. So many people wait until they have a serious diagnosis before they start to take their health seriously. Really, they want to be in shape, but not to get in shape.

It is too easy to blame someone else. Your parents didn’t exercise, so you don’t. Your friends all eat unhealthy food, so you do. This is such a passive way of living. They don’t feel your pain when you can’t walk around the block, or you can’t get out of bed without help. You have to live your life, and by living, I don’t mean just exist.

There needs to be an entire sea-change in the way we think, but until then we have to do it for ourselves.

I have a dream that hospitals and rehab centers will teach people how to be healthy rather than treat their sicknesses. People will learn that health is more than just about diet and exercise.

They will teach people how to care for themselves through food and exercise. People will learn how to cook for themselves and what are healthy choices when they are out at a restaurant. They will learn how to grow their own food. There will be no caffeine or refined sugar, and no tobacco.

They will learn about healthy boundaries. They will learn how to protect themselves and how to respect the boundaries of others.

They will learn how to share their thoughts and how to listen to other’s thoughts. They will learn dialogue versus debate.

They will get in touch with their inner child.

They will explore different ways to express themselves. All arts will be shared and people will be encouraged to pick as many as needed.

They will learn the value of getting enough sleep.

They will get career counseling to find a job that fits their abilities and beliefs.

This movement starts with each one of us, right now. It isn’t a top-down way of thinking. It is a bottom-up. We have to be the change.

Food and money

This makes absolutely no sense. I’m strictly budgeting my money by buying everything with cash. I’m cooking more, so I’m buying the groceries for the household now. We have fresh produce, most of it organic. Somehow, we are saving a lot of money and eating a lot better at the same time. It doesn’t make any sense but I’m grateful.

I’ve always been told that it was cheaper to buy prepackaged and conventional, but healthier to eat fresh and organic. I decided to start small and build up. It started with a box of organic oatmeal. Then I got some organic apples. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Every little bit counts in health. But then I started buying organic as much as possible. I didn’t see that much difference in price. Somehow I was able to justify it even while living on a strict budget. Perhaps I eat less food. Perhaps I’m just more mindful about what I eat. I don’t know, but it seems to be balancing out. Better food and saving money – win/win.

I think part of it is that we aren’t eating out nearly as often. We have fresh food that needs to be eaten. If we don’t eat it, it goes to waste. If you are saving money, wasting food is tops on the list of dumb things to do. Somehow I’ve realized that it is just as fast to cook our own food at home rather than go out and wait for food at a restaurant. And I’ve realized that when I cook, I know what went into the food. I know the amount of butter and salt. I know if the vegetables are organic. I know that all the ingredients are the best they can be.

I’m not cooking gourmet meals, but they are tasty. I’m not following recipes really. I’m following general guidelines. I think all the time I spent watching cooking shows has helped me to understand the general idea of cooking.

I’m coming to realize that I’m grateful that I didn’t learn how to cook from my Mom. I remember one year writing in my diary that all I wanted for my birthday was food that wasn’t brown. Everything was cooked to within an inch of its life. Everything was mushy and dull. Nothing was colorful and crisp. She was from England, and her Mom had cooked all the meals to suit a man who had ulcers. Everything was thick gravies and no fresh vegetables. She even had a special rectangular steamer pot for the frozen vegetables that came in a block. The only time she cooked from scratch was when guests came over, and that wasn’t very often.

Now, I know that some of this was because of the fact that we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. She had to make do with what she had. I also know that some of it comes from the time period. I remember reading a recipe from that era that said for green beans almandine, you should boil the green beans for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. By that time they’d be limp and grey and all the goodness would have been cooked right out of them. That was normal for our house. That was normal for a lot of people.

I remember when Mom got sick with cancer and I started cooking. I went to the grocery store and got fresh, colorful veggies for a stir fry. I remember her looking at what I was cooking in amazement. I cooked it all for just a few minutes. She looked at it and asked “Don’t you want to cook that a little longer?” I told her that no, that we could eat the vegetables raw. We were just cooking them for fun. She was unbelieving, but tried anyway. After that meal she was sold on the idea and bought me an electric wok to use to make her more.

I remember seeing a documentary about a family that said they could only afford to eat from the McDonald’s value meal. They spent so much money on diabetes and cholesterol and blood pressure medicine that they couldn’t afford to eat real food. This, sadly, is the norm for America. If we eat better, we don’t get sick. Prevention rather than cure, you know. Food has to be seen as the ultimate medicine.

It is easy to cook and eat right, and it is cheap. I didn’t believe it, but I’m doing it. If I can do it, anybody can. They just have to get started. Little steps at first. Part of it is knowing that you can. Part of it is knowing that the desire to do it is the seed. Nurture that seed and you are on your way.

Clean plate club

Are you a member of the clean plate club? Remember that from childhood? Remember the shame your parents would put on you to finish everything on your plate?

Even if you were full, even if there was something on your plate that disagreed with you, that made you sick, you were expected to finish it off.

I get it. Our parents didn’t want us to be wasteful. They needed us to learn to appreciate what we had. They also didn’t want to have to feed us at irregular times. If we didn’t eat at lunch time, we’d be hungry at 2, and they would have to make more food for us. That is inconvenient for them. It also teaches the child that he is in charge, and that is a bad precedent.

But there is a problem here. The child didn’t fill his own plate. There may be too much on it. There may be items on it he is allergic to.

Children are not small adults. Their stomachs are smaller. To insist that they eat the same amount and at the same times as adults is to ignore that fact.

To insist that they clean their plate when they had no say as to what and how much went on it is to teach them to ignore their own body’s needs and their own feelings. It is to tell them that their own needs and feelings do not matter.

It is exactly the same as force feeding the child. Actually it is worse. It is expecting the child to force feed himself. It sets him up for a lifetime of not listening to his own body’s needs. It sets him up for obesity, at a minimum.

At the worst it teaches him that his own needs and feelings do not matter, do not count. It teaches him that he, himself, as a person does not matter and does not count.

Account balance

The secret to saving money is to spend less or make more, or both. Likewise, the secret to losing weight is to burn more calories or take less in, or both.

Move more and eat better and you’ll lose weight. But the weight isn’t the goal. The goal is health. If you move more, you’ll have better mobility in your joints. Your heart will be stronger. If you eat better, you’ll be giving your body the fuel it needs. Both will make you feel better and live longer.

I’m not about a starvation diet. There is no reason you have to eat salads and feel miserable. But do cut out the fried foods. You think you want them. You don’t. They don’t taste of anything except salt and fat. You can’t taste the goodness in the food when it is fried.

Do eat less food in general. You don’t need to eat like a dog who just got adopted from the pound. Slow down. Chew everything at least 20 times. You’ll digest it better if you eat it more slowly. Because, you aren’t what you eat, you are what you digest. If nothing else, think of all the money you’ll save if you eat less.

Eating less meat and more vegetables is always good too. The meat portion, if you are going to have it at all, needs to be the size of a deck of cards. Really. It is often the size of half the plate. And that is just the first helping.

For vegetables, the more the merrier. The more variety you can have, the more different vitamins and minerals you are getting. Every plate of vegetables is a gift from you to your body. Aim for a lot of color and you can’t go wrong. If you think you don’t like a certain vegetable, try it another way – steamed or grilled or baked. Sometimes it isn’t the vegetable, it is the way it is cooked that is the problem. Texture is essential. Baked squash is totally different from boiled or steamed squash. Try it, you might like it.

I’m stunned at the number of people who saw my husband take his bike to work who still wondered how he lost all that weight. He lost nearly a hundred pounds in a year. Now, it wasn’t from just riding his bike. He walked at lunch. He worked out at the Y several times a week. He ate healthier. But his coworkers didn’t see all that. They did see the bike, and they still didn’t get it. They thought he had gotten stomach reduction surgery.

Perhaps that is the problem. People just don’t see the connection. Hard work equals results.

No, it isn’t easy to get healthy. No, there are no shortcuts. You just have to do it.

You’ll fail a lot at first. You’ll get started and then stall out. You’ll be doing well and hit a snag. You’ll come full stop. Just start again. It isn’t the stopping that is the point. It is the starting again. Know that failing is normal. You aren’t a failure for failing. You’re normal. You’re human. Just get going again.

Even when you finally get a good routine going and you are doing very well, you’ll start to slack off. You’ve gotten to your goal and you think you can ease up. Then your joints start hurting again, and your jeans start not fitting again, and you’ll realize there isn’t a stopping point.

This is for life. You can’t stop because if you stop you’re done. You have to see eating well and moving more as something you just do as part of being a human. It has to be part of your life, and not just a thing you do to lose a few pounds before your high school reunion.

This is for life, because otherwise, you don’t really have a life. Otherwise, you’ll end up, if you make it to old age at all, on so many pills you’ll need an assistant to sort them for you. You’ll need a cane, or a walker, or a wheelchair. You’ll spend your days sitting at home because you are too feeble to get out on your own. You’ll be dead before you are dead.

This is for life. This is so you’ll have a life.