Monthly Archives: June 2018

Friday 5 – What I Read

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By the looks of this post, it’s been almost all cookbooks and audiobooks these days. I think there is a reason for this, but I won’t get into it now! 🙂 This was a really good selection, though. And these are books I read probably over a month ago. Let’s see what I retained…

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How Not to Die:
Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
by Michael Greger (nonfiction) – must read

For the past few years, I’ve heard it said numerous times from various sources that we should be eating “real food, mostly plants”. Dr. Greger explains why. This is a doozy of a book! With a section on the most common diseases that lead to death and in-depth explanation why food is the root cause and how the right food can heal us, too. He opens with his example of his grandmother’s diagnosis of a terminal disease and in changing her diet – lived 20 more years.

There is a lot of information to back up his claims, so much that I skimmed over most of it, taking greater note on certain diseases that afflict loved ones. I wholly admit that I didn’t read every word of this book, but that I find what Greger writes to be candid and enlightening. The second half of his book focuses on how to approach a healthy diet with a checklist of your daily necessities and a stop-light approach to foods (Green light – EAT! Yellow light – think twice, don’t eat often. Red light – don’t eat).

Why is this all not common knowledge? There is no such thing as Big Broccoli!

I followed up by reading his cookbook of the same name which was recently released. You can also find information about specific diseases, foods and studies on his website at www.NutritionFacts.org.

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The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas 
(fiction, audio) – must read

I absolutely adored this book on audio! I don’t know what constitues YA, but this one has a lot of not-necessarily-just-young-adult themes that are appropriate for these times. The book is being adapted for the screen and the trailer has just been released! I haven’t watched it yet, but I will say I think Amandla Stenberg will make a perfect Starr Carter.

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This is Me:
Loving the Person You Are Today

by Chrissy Metz (nonfiction, audio) – worth a read

This popped up as a suggestion on Hoopla Audio where I download books from my local library. I promptly snatched it up and listened to it while picking up around the house and doing dishes. I really liked learning about Chrissy’s journey to Hollywood and also her philosophies now. She really puts her personality out there in the writing and reading of this story as well! She offers little nuggets of truth, too, like “Hurt people hurt people.”

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My Kitchen Year
136 Recipes That Saved My Life

by Ruth Reichl (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a read

I didn’t really know what this book was about, other than that it was a cookbook and that the recipes were possibly healthy: “136 Recipes that Saved My Life”. But what I came to learn is that these recipes came to save Reichl’s “life” after she became unemployed. They inspired her mentally and she illustrates how the methodical repetition in their creation could be meditative. The book is written like a story, which I love, as I read cookbooks like novels. The sections are divided by season and I found it quite lovely to read about such things while sitting out in the lounge chair on my patio on a spring afternoon. (Only a few of the recipes I could actually see myself making, but would probably eat quite a few if they were offered my way. 🙂 )

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Hunger:
A Memoir of (My) Body

by Roxane Gay (nonfiction, audio) – worth a read

 

Whoa. This is a heavy, but real book. I’ve only read one of Gay’s books and it was entirely fiction. I can see where draws her ideas and feelings from now. This is a very vulnerable topic of which to write and is not a feel-good story, but one of Truth. Want a really in depth review/reaction to this book? This is one of the best I’ve read.

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What do you like to read outside in the summer?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Friday 5: What I’ve Been Reading

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I’ve read these almost two months ago, so let’s see what I’ve retained!

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The Alchemist
by Paolo Coelho (fiction) – must read

This book has been on my to-read list for I-don’t-know-how-long. It is a fable with wisdom and lessons and I so wanted to highlight phrases throughout! I read it while Rob and I were soaking up sun in Pensacola, Florida while our Minnesota friends weathered an April snowstorm. I passed it on to Rob who read it on the plane ride back. He passed it on to the front seat pocket to leave for some other travel needing some insight to the world.

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Hug Me
by Simona, Ciraolo 
(fiction) – worth a read

I found this children’s book on a list of Books to Cheer You Up. It was available in my library, so I promptly picked it up. While in Arizona a couple of years ago, I asked the people in the car with me if it was just me or if anyone else feel like cacti are always flipping us off. My Aunt Terri, who lives there, replied, “They have their arms up ready to give you a hug!” So this book made me think of her.

I enjoyed this book and I think your kids will, too.

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Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates (nonfiction, audio) – must read, listen

Whoa. This book. I didn’t know anything about it, but it was on my list of audiobooks and I chose it because it was just the right length to get me through my commutes and return to the library before I went on vacation. Funny how that works, huh?

I had a hard time following the beginning, mostly because I knew absolutely nothing about the book. It is one of the most profound, poetically written works I’ve ever “read” and I’m glad I listened to it on audio, but I’m sure it is equally powerful on paper. I rarely give a book 5 stars on goodreads. But this one got mine.

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson (fiction, audio) – worth a read, listen

I downloaded the audio version of this book from my library to my phone and listened to it while doing housework. It is a bit long, but ridiculously funny in parts. I love how prominent historical events are weaved in and out of the 100-year-old man’s life. I’d put this book in the same vein with A Man Called Ove, not because both authors are Swedish, but because they look back on the lives of older men how they lived. I enjoyed this book, but if you are going to choose one over the other adore A Man Called Ove, which I also listened to on audio. (The movie is great, too!)

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Back Talk
by Danielle Lazarin (fiction) – worth a read?

How do you feel about short stories? The jury is still out there for me. This is a group of short stories I came across on my Hoopla Audio App that I downloaded from the library. To be quite honest, I don’t really remember much about them now, a month to two months later. (Such was the case with the highly acclaimed book of short stories What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.) Sometimes when I read or listen to short stories, I feel like they drop off with no real purpose or resolution. And moving right in to the next story feels odd. I guess I like to sit with a story or a book for a bit. When I close the cover to a book, I don’t think I’ve ever just picked up the next book and began reading again.

Still, I felt like, while listening, I enjoyed them to pass the time to listen to while putting away laundry and dishes. Maybe I should accept short stories for what they are rather than imposing expectations of something they are not.

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Quickly… What was the last book you read?
Did you like it?

Cheers~
Carrie

Friday 5: Books on Acid Reflux & GERD

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Yesterday I shared the pain I’ve been dealing with over the past month or so with Acid Reflux/GERD. It took me about a month, but I strove to put my acid reflux at bay with minimal set backs.

When you are in pain, you will do just about anything to find relief! During that time, while taking Prilosec, I also followed as many common dietary and lifestyle recommendations which I have also listed in this post.

Still, I tried to learn everything there is to know about Acid Reflux / GERD and how to treat and manage it. Symptoms of heartburn, chest pain and bloat and burping don’t go away by popping antacids. Medications can take a few days to kick-in, so there is generally no instant relief. But once the relief started, I wanted to be armed with the information of what needs to be done to prevent this in the future.

I knew I didn’t want to just treat the symptoms. I also had read in online articles about the dangers of being on medications long-term. But there is so much conflicting information out there! Below are the books I turned to during this time. In this post, I included the year each book which published because that can sometimes matter when it comes to medical information.

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The 7-Day Acid Reflux Diet:
by Robert M. Fleischer (2013)

This was a quick Kindle purchase for $2.50. The publication is only available as an e-book. I rated it a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. That basically is the rating for “it was ok”. Why did I rate it as such? One Amazon reviewer indicated:

“No new info here – very overpriced. Just a rehash of info you can find on the web for free.” 

That might be the case, but I tend to agree with another Amazon reviewer whose quote I now cannot find that indicated that this may include info that you can find on the web; but here you’ve got it all in one place without having to do the research yourself, especially if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes. In fact, I forgot about them until now.

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Acid Reflux:
How to Treat Acid Reflux
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
by Ace McCloud (audio, 2017)

I downloaded this audiobook from my library because it was only a 56-minute book. There were no reviews on Goodreads at the time. I rated it a 3 (“I liked it”) and someone has since rated it a 2 (“it was ok”). This was written by a guy who has suffered from acid reflux, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a listen. There is not too much new here that you can’t find online, but again may be worth a listen if you are experiencing acid reflux for the first time.

However, since listening to this book I found that author Ace McCloud has written 400 different works ranging from cookie recipes, to habits, to money, to Miley Cyrus. Doesn’t sound like much of an expert, now, huh. He advertises some of his books throughout the audio – like “checkout my book for managing stress” or something to that affect, which may be helpful; but some may find the shameless plug annoying.

Still there was one new nugget of information I did take away:

  • Aloe Vera Juice

I didn’t know this stuff existed or if drinking it would actually work. It’s a cheap purchase at Walmart in the pharmacy section. I listened to this book early on in my stages and I was willing to try anything. It tastes just like you’d think – like aloe vera gel smells, but slides down like a liquid. Not very tasty, but you only drink about 1/4 cup at a time before or with meals. I added some to my smoothies! Who is to say this works or doesn’t work with all of the other things I was trying at once!

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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet
by Maria A. Bella (2012)

I haven’t read a Complete Idiot’s Guide to anything since… the 90s? But it was available at my library, so why not?! You’ll get a lot of info on how the stomach and esophagus work in this book. It’s got a lot of very detailed information for anyone new to acid reflux, including foods to avoid and friendly foods.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions, however. Many acid reflux cookbooks will suggest avoiding foods, but then put them in their own recipes! Also, although I know there is a correlation with high fat and acid reflux, I don’t like when low-fat and fat-free products are pushed so heavily.

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Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid Reflux (Revised Edition):
Nutrition You Can Live With
by Elaine Magee (2008)

I loved the title of this book because when one has acid reflux and starts to do some research, one learns all of the foods to avoid. It gets to the point where you start thinking, “Well, what CAN I eat?” It’s a pretty well laid-out and straight-forward kind of book.

New nuggets for me:

  • Chew gum. This was the first time I heard this suggestion, but it makes sense:
    • “The saliva stimulated by chewing seems to help neutralize acid and force stomach fluids back where it belongs.”
    • Generally speaking, this seems to be working for me, but I started doing this way into my treatment that… who knows!
    • I quit gum years ago; but now I may have a new gum addiction. Whoops.
  • High-protein diets are NOT more healthful that high-carbohydrate diets
    • I loved this nugget of advice. People often give up carbs to lose weight (weight loss is a big suggestion to combat acid reflux); but ignore the saturated fat that often comes with eating a high protein diet. Too much saturated fat with exacerbate acid reflux. It’s a high fiber diet that’s more important.
  • Health, NOT Weight Loss
    • This was an aha! moment for me!
    • Focusing on losing weight puts you into a dieting mindset where are you more likely to fail. All diets “work” if you work them, but they aren’t always healthy.
    • Instead, “change your focus to being and feeling healthy.” The weight loss with follow naturally.

I wasn’t in love with the recipe suggestions in this book. I did try one for Green Sauced Chicken Enchiladas. They were a little cumbersome and tasted okay, not great. It did make me think of this Lazy Girl’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole, though, and that I should make that again soon and can use green (tomatillo) salsa if I feel like tomatoes and I should continue our (sad) divorce.

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The Acid Reflux Solution:
A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally
by Jorge E. Rodriguez, MD (2012) – MUST READ

This is the one book I would read if you want some good information on the whys, hows and what-to-do-nows of acid reflux. I checked it out from the library and have since purchased it on Thriftbooks. It’s written by a doctor who had experienced acid reflex himself for many years.

I like how Rodriguez addresses the medication situation – that it is useful to treat symptoms in the short-term; but that by no means should it be continued for long term use. PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), like Prilosec, should not be “prescribed longer than 50 days”. PPIs stop the production of the stomach acid so that there will be none to reflux up the esophagus. This is why it often takes 24 hours to three days to feel any relief of symptoms.

However, you do need that acid to break down food and absorb important nutrients in the long term! Without it, you will have trouble absorbing calcium, magnesium, iron and maybe even B vitamins, as well. Even if you think you are getting enough of these nutrients, you may not be soaking them up, which can affect your bones, red blood cells and heart in the long-term.

Rodriguez also addresses the usual list of trigger foods, indicating that that list may not be as long as we think! There is really only a short list of what foods may cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax, causing the reflux to occur in the first place. The other items may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, which is why some people can and some people cannot tolerate certain items. Maybe tomatoes, garlic, onions and I can all get back together and become one happy family?! In any case, real food that’s high in fiber and eaten in controlled portions is best.

There is much, much more to this book and I found it to be the most informational and liberating of all the books I read – the reason why I purchased it.

Some of the recipes in the book have longer ingredient lists and include complicated methods, but not all. At first glance, I thumbed through the recipes, skipping over many. But giving it a closer look, I found reasons to try some things I may normally swept under the rug, like Fennel-Scented Lentil Soup. (Fennel is a natural digestive aid!) I would have loved photos of each recipe as well as the nutrition facts. That may have made it a 5-star book for me.

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Eating for Acid Reflux:
A Handbook and Cookbook for Those with Heartburn
by Jill Sklar & Annabel Cohen (2003)

This bonus 6th book on acid reflux isn’t really a bonus. I honestly didn’t read this book thoroughly, just thumbed through it. Frankly, I was quite sick of reading the same stuff about acid reflux and I felt like I got the information I really needed out of The Acid Reflux Solution.

This book goes very in depth about common causes and all the medical issues surrounding acid reflux. That part looks very detailed, but I did not read that lengthy section. It also goes over treatment and medication options, listing PPIs as part of “maintenance therapy”, which after what I’ve read about long-term use, makes this book seem dated!

What I did found intriguing in this book, though, were the recipes. I think I’d like to try every soup in the book despite the fact that there are no photos for any of them! And I found very few recipes touting the importance of low-fat or fat-free items. I may have to get a copy of this book just for the recipes!

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In the end, any of these books could be helpful if you are suffering from acid reflux or GERD. However, if you don’t want to weed through everything out there, I’d recommend The Acid Reflux Solution.

I don’t have the pain that I did back at the end of April, but I can tell that my esophagus is still somewhat inflamed and irritated. Some days I make good choices, other days I don’t and pay dearly. But at least I have the tools to move in the right direction.

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Do you have any favorite cookbooks or recipes for acid reflux sufferers?

Cheers~
Carrie

Oh my GERD!

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After a stressful April at work (including an IT debacle that made doing work very difficult), a much-needed, almost-perfect vacation of overindulgence, I revisited a health issue that once struck me in my 20s – ACID REFLUX.

Now when I say acid reflux, most people think heartburn, which is something with which I can totally deal. But acid reflux is something that is persistent and never seems to go away no matter how many antacids one takes. And even changing the diet takes a long time before relief is found.

My symptoms were similar to, but not exactly like those I found when I was diagnosed in my 20s – after college when I returned to live my parents, was stressed-out trying to figure out what to do with my life while working a temp job.

This time, it was the tightness in the chest and dizzy spells, however, that sent me to Urgent Care rather than making an appointment with my doctor. After many tests to rule out anything heart-related, I concluded with the Urgent Care physician that this was an acid reflux situation or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).

And I basically knew what to do – get on some PPIs (aka Prilosec) and change my diet. STAT. (That night, I did begin to experience the same symptoms as I did in my 20s – heart attack-like chest pains so severe that I could feel it under my breast bone right through my back, like someone stabbing me.)

So, I made one of the healthiest, somewhat bland throw-together bowls ever and really enjoyed it:

This bowl included kale, rice, black beans, butternut squash, avocado and pepitas. I may have a drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top, too. (And yes, that is a picture of restaurateur Jamie Malone from the 2018 Restaurant of the Year edition of Food & Wine magazine. I’ve been reading all about Grand Cafe and am hoping to visit soon!)

But I wanted to learn more about treating my esophagus, not just the symptoms. There is so much conflicting information out there! So while I tried to adhere to many of these recommendations…

  • Avoid trigger foods/irritants:
    • Citrus fruits
    • Tomatoes
    • Garlic & Onions
    • Spicy foods
    • Coffee (caffeinated and decaf)
    • Most Teas
    • Chocolate
    • Alcohol
    • Fried foods
    • High-fat foods
    • Mint
    • Carbonated Beverages
  • Manage Stress
  • Lose weight
  • Don’t lie down until 2, preferably 3 hours after eating
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Sleep on your left side
  • Don’t take NSAIDs, like aspirin and Aleve
  • Eat a diet high in fiber

…while I tried to adhere to all of that, I got on the interwebs and checked out books to learn more. What of all the conflicting information is correct?! Well, if you are experiencing Acid Reflux, GERD or even persistent heartburn, I’ll share with you which books and information was worth my while and which ones you can SKIP. I hope to have this post up and info reviewed in the coming week or so!

When talking with people about my acid reflux, I’ve learned that a quite surprising number of people I know have been on PPIs for years. They are treating the symptoms, which I understand. It’s painful and hard to concentrate when you are feeling pain. But for years? In my reading, I learned why one shouldn’t be on medications like Prilosec for long-term use; yet, doctors are prescribing it over and over again anyway.

Changing diet and lifestyle is hard, but I’d rather give that a go than create future complications! More to come…

Do you have any favorite books, tips or recipes to help combat acid reflux or GERD?

Cheers~
Carrie