Chronically sick? Choose the right water filter.

Chronically sick? Choose the right water filter.

As a kid, I never thought about a water filter. Yet after being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, I wouldn’t drink any water without one. How do I choose the right water filter? In this post, you’ll learn about drinking water and my journey of not submitting to bottled water. Plus you’ll understand what option is best for you and your family whether you live in the city or rural area.

Water has a lot to do with your health, in fact, water is life! If you’re not getting healthy clean water, you might be setting yourself up for autoimmune disease and other chronic health issues. If there is one physical gift that keeps on giving, it would be clean drinking water. It sounds kind of boring; after all, water is thought to be a commodity. However, pure clean water is not necessarily everywhere. Whether you live in the city, the countryside, or overseas, clean nutritious water is hard to come by. In our recent move from city water to well water, the drinking water became my #1 priority and it completely stressed me out. This situation is literally and physically taking a “challenge and creating light from it”…Simplify Firefly.

Water and your health, does it really matter?

Did you know that drinking water can affect your health? I’m not just talking about water-born bacteria like E. coli or Giardia; there are many other factors that affect water that can weaken our bones, disrupt our digestive systems, and even hurt our heart health. If you think about it there aren’t many choices for healthy, balanced water; treated water is full of chemicals, bottled water can leach estrogens or containments, distilled water can rob you of essential minerals, and well water can have harmful levels of iron, arsenic, and lead to name a few. Talk about stress! This was where I was when we moved.

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Water and my story

Water and I go way back. I now take it seriously and there are many reasons why I do. In college, drinking a lot of water helped me (tremendously) lose weight. Secondly, during my pregnancies, I got severely dehydrated due to HG which led me to get an IV multiple times. Thirdly, water is all I drink.

I grew up on city water, unfiltered. I drank it straight from the tap. In college, I drank it from the tap or drinking fountain. It wasn’t until 2007 when we decided to get a water filter. Before that time, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in my liver, which then cascaded into other issues. Could it be that most diseases come from our water?

Now a day, my digestive system is a sensitive one, so I need to be careful what I put into my body or my body will flare up. Not to mention, dehydration comes on pretty quickly, and water is the only element that keeps me stable. I highly recommend you get your water tested. You can call your township or city and ask them how to do it. There are kits online, but I’d go the local route.

So what are we to drink?

As you know, our bodies can’t survive more than three days without water. Sure you can drink coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and such, but those can be toxic to your system and cause all sorts of other health problems. And yes, water detoxifies your body, gives you energy, helps you feel good (better mood), and so much more! But what are we to drink?

Many would answer this question with bottled water. Bottled water first came out in 1767 and has gotten increasingly popular ever since! With recent worldly events, bottled water has been life-saving. I drink bottled water occasionally and am extremely grateful to have it on hand. But not all bottled water is the same. At the store you’ll see many options of bottled water, if you’re a serious water drinker it can be overwhelming. Let’s look at the pros and cons of bottled water.


  • It’s convenient
  • Works in a pinch
  • There are many options to suite your needs


  • Can be expensive
  • Different pH levels
  • Chemicals and estrogens leaking into water from the plastic
  • Not 100% sure what the water source is
  • Could contain added ingredients
  • Hurts the environment if you don’t recycle

IBD Triggers

Water filter options besides bottled water

Some would argue that filtered water by a home water filter is the way to go. Yet, others are strictly from the tap. This is all personal preference, but the one that gives me confidence in what I’m drinking is from a home filtration system. What does this mean?

A home filtration system can mean a few things. It can mean refrigerator water, water filter pitcher, RO system, under the sink water filter, or a countertop water filter. Let’s briefly take a deeper look into some of these options.

Refrigerator filter

Some people thoroughly enjoy their refrigerator water filters. The water is instantly cold and easy to access. Just remember to change the filter.  

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Water filter pitcher

Another route is the filtered water pitcher. The water pitchers are popular and do a great job. If you don’t drink a lot of water every day I’d suggest the water pitcher. You can put it in the frig or keep it on the counter. This option is better than buying plastic jugs of water.

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Reverse Osmosis

If you want 100% pure water, you’ll want to check out the RO System. The Reverse Osmosis System completely takes out all chemicals, bacteria, minerals, and good minerals from the water, so you are only left with H2O. This water tastes amazing! However, RO water has a tendency to be more acidic, like around 5.5 pH to 6.0 pH. This is because it takes out those minerals that balance pH. There are mineral filters that connect to the RO system to help put minerals back into the water, but I’m not sure about their effectiveness…the reviews are not consistent. Not to be a wet blanket, but I’ve heard the pH filters can be fickle from going from one extreme to the other.

More about water pH

And what’s up with water pH? I had no idea the pH level of water was different, but it is! Some water is alkaline and others are acidic. Ideally, you want to be right in the middle of it all. If water is too acidic it can eventually lead to health problems. The same goes true with water that is too alkaline. In our new home, I bought a ph tester and had chemistry class on our kitchen counter. It was actually fun testing eight different glasses of water. What I found was that some bottled water was actually acidic! Yet with the three different types of water filters I had on hand: RO System, under sink Aquasuana, and countertop Berkey; the RO was acidic, Aquasana and Berkey were alkaline. I also tested our water softener water, well water, and other bottled water.


More water filter systems

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Under-the-sink filtration system

Yet, another route is to use an under-the-sink filtration system. We used this water filter system when we lived in the city, and we loved it! New filters were sent to us every 6 months, so we didn’t have to remember to get them. It’s super convenient and easy to use. This just gives you a little more peace of mind that your water is safe. We have been using Aquasana since 2007.

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Countertop filtered water

Countertop filtered water is yet another option for filtered drinking water. This water filter is gravity fed using carbon filters. It’s easy to use, looks cool, and can even filter pond water ready for you to drink! This water filter is a rock star, it filters all the bad stuff out but keeps the essential minerals our bodies need like calcium, magnesium, potassium. The ph level is where it should be, the 7.0 range. If you drink a lot of water every day and don’t like cold water, I would highly recommend the Berkey Water Filter System. You just have to remember to fill it.

So what one do I use on well water?

I asked this exact question when I moved into our country home and there wasn’t an easy answer. People around us all did different things. Bottled water was one, refrigerator water another (but I don’t like cold water), and water pitcher. It took me hours to figure out what one would be best for me. As I said before, water is the top beverage I consume each day. So if I’m drinking water with a lot of chemicals in it, then my body is getting a lot of chemicals. And with the health issues I have, my liver doesn’t need to work any harder than it needs to.

In our home, we have a water softener, and I frankly do not like drinking softened water. It’s a water-weight thing if you know what I mean. Soft water makes me bloated and I’m not a fan of excess sodium adding up in the body. So after many trials of different kinds of water filter systems, with softened water, without softened water, not to mention the different types of bottled water I tried, we finalized on a direct line from the well (non-softened water) to our drinking spigot on our kitchen sink; the drinking spigot goes through an under the sink water filter system, and then we filter it again with the Berkey. It’s a little complicated, I agree, but our well water is getting filtered twice yet leaving in those essential minerals our bodies need. I am a very happy camper and am at peace with our drinking water. And I feel great!

Water filter conclusion

Water makes a 100% difference in your health, hormones, mind, and inflammation. Do what is best for you, your body, and your mental wellbeing. Take your water seriously! My recommendations include:

#1 Get your water tested for containments, metals, and bacteria.
#2 Understand the pH level of your drinking water.
#3 Invest in a drinking water filter for you and your family.

For city water, I’ve found Aquasana under-the-sink unit or a Berkey to do the trick.

If you have well water, a combo of Aquasana under-the-sink and a Berkey works well.

Out camping? I recommend a Berkey.

In the dorm room…campus water isn’t the best…it’s a Berkey or a water filter pitcher.

All in all, the Berkey is the way to go.

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By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Tired, bloated, or do you have indigestion after you eat? Let me fill you in on a little secret, it probably has something to do with food combining. Our stomach is known for acid. Stomach acid, along with the help of enzymes, helps break down food. Not only that but it actually helps support the body in absorbing protein and vitamin B-12, which we only get from protein (meat). In this post, you’ll find tips on how to feel better and get more bang for your nutrition buck! How to reduce stomach acid, how to increase stomach acid, how to test which one you have, and why food combining has a lot to do with stomach acid will be covered too. I keep things simple and to the point. Plus! You can download my free easy to understand food combining chart!

Let’s jump into the stomach.

If you have high levels of stomach acid you’re probably experiencing one of these symptoms: acid reflux, burping, or you may even feel nauseated. If you have too little stomach acid you may feel bloated, experience diarrhea or constipation, have food intolerances, osteoporosis, leaky gut, malnutrition, and heartburn. It’s kind of confusing, eh?

If you have either too high or too low of stomach acid it puts stress on the digestive system which can lead to further problems down the road, for instance, if you have heartburn (GERDS) and don’t pay attention to it, it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus and upping your chances of precancerous cells. If the stomach acid is too low and left untreated it can lead to hair loss, GI infections, anemia, lupus, allergies, chronic autoimmune disorders, and thyroid issues to name a few. Yikes!

how to manage stomach acid

How do you know if you have high or low stomach acid?

First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in. I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version of what I’ve learned. *Consult your physician before jumping into new things.*

There are a number of things you can do to figure this out:

1) You could visit your doctor and have them order a test. Most likely it will be a CBC (complete blood count) and CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel). From the test they’ll look at a variety of factors, some include iron and phosphorous levels.

2) The other test is the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test, this test requires fasting for 12 hours and swallowing a tiny electronic capsule. You will need to drink a baking soda solution and then the capsule will record how long it takes your stomach to restore normal acidity levels. Cool!

3) If you don’t like doctors or want to spend the extra cash, there is a simple at-home test is called the Baking Soda Acid Test. The accuracy of this test is not 100%, so it’s best to do this test regularly to get a better idea of where you are on stomach acid.

Here’s how to do it: Mix ¼ tsp of baking soda in four ounces of water. In the morning before you eat or drink anything else, drink the concoction. Next, start your timer on your phone and time how long it takes to burp. If it takes more than five minutes or you experience no burp at all, it’s a sign of low stomach acid.

IBD Triggers

Tips on how to reduce gastric juice:

1) Understand what food combinations cause high acidity. See my chart on freebies.

2) Eat smaller meals. Overeating can put pressure on the esophageal sphincter, which causes it to open and leak acid into your esophagus.

3) Try a low-carb diet. When our system can’t digest carbs well, we get gassy and bloated, which then leads to GERD. Numerous studies support this idea. Looking into amylase, a digestive enzyme that helps break down carbs may significantly help you when you can’t say no.

4) Limit the guilty pleasures of caffeine and alcohol. The alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter and the caffeine weakens the sphincter. They basically have the same effects on the sphincter. Try decaf coffee instead, that’s what I do and my body has adjusted well after the caffeine withdrawal ended.

5) Chew gum. This helps increase saliva production and helps clear the esophagus of stomach acid. It helps with symptoms but doesn’t solve the root cause. No wonder my son loves gum!

6) Cut back on carbonated drinks and citrus juice. Again both of these kinds of beverages weaken the esophageal sphincter.

7) Mint is a no-go. Mint chocolate-chip ice cream should take a backseat if you experience symptoms. This refreshing herb is so relaxing that it too relaxes the sphincter. Peppermint tea, peppermint chocolate or candies, and peppermint-flavored gum have the potential to fire back, literally up your esophagus.

Some other tips to help alleviate symptoms are not eating too close to bedtime, elevating your head while sleeping, and avoiding laying on your RIGHT side. These tactics help calm the acid and keep that pesky sphincter closed!

banana fact

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4 little ways to increase low stomach acid at home

1) I wouldn’t hit the meat & potatoes to fix your low stomach acid, instead, take a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar that includes the Mother. This is an easy way to help your stomach acid get ready to work before a meal. Mix one tablespoon of the vinegar in water and drink before a meal.

2) Like honey? Try Manuka Honey. This honey comes from New Zealand and has amazing antimicrobial properties. It helps with IBS, indigestion, stomach ulcer prevention, oral health, and like most honey, helps with wound healing and sore throats. Get more details on Manuka Honey here.

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3) Chew. “Chew, chew, chew.” When we’re hungry, we tend to eat fast and take big bites! It’s like a welcome mat for a stuck burp. Chew every bite so it turns into mush. There is no need to eat your food fast. Simply use a smaller fork to help with bite-size.

4) Digestive enzymes also do the trick. Unfortunately, the first time I tried these they gave me diarrhea. They can actually cause constipation in some people too. But don’t let this discourage you. Digestive enzymes play an important role in vitamin and nutrient absorption. As you age or if you have a digestive disorder, or have pancreas issues, your enzymes deplete and lead to uncomfortable symptoms. For instance, one sign is a change in bowels and/or seeing undigested food in your stool. Yes, you should look at your poop! So before I completely gave up on digestive enzymes, I gave them another try. This time I played with the dose. Instead of a whole pill before a meal, I only took a pinch and it worked a lot better. After your body gets used to them you can move forward from there.

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What are digestive enzymes?

In a nutshell, there are three main types of digestive enzymes: proteases, lipases, and amylases. Here is a list of the enzymes and what they do. Helpful Hint: Pancreatic enzyme names usually end in “-in” (like trypsin or pepsin), while other digestive enzymes usually end in “-ase” or “-ose” (like lactose, sucrose, fructose).

The trick for making digestive enzymes work for you is to first determine if you are a candidate for supplementation. Know your body, pay attention to how it reacts after you eat. Are you burping, bloated, having to run the bathroom, heartburn, stinky gas and a lot of it, or cramping?

The next step is to determine what kind of enzyme you need. Asking your doctor, a nutritionist, or a functional medicine doc for their recommendations is the way to go. Just note the FDA does not regulate digestive enzymes, so everyone will have their own opinion, but you know your body best. You want clear ingredients from a reputable manufacturer.

Third, you’ll have to experiment to find the right dose. Remember this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. I’m not a doctor. Seek advice from a qualified health provider before trying something new. This post is to help you investigate how to help heal your body and ask the right questions to your healthcare provider.

digestive enzymes list

A little info on EOE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis)

On a side note, my son has EOE, Eosinophilic Esophagitis. I seriously have a hard time saying this word. Essentially it’s an inflammation of the esophagus caused by a food allergy which can cause food to get stuck in the esophagus…believe me, I have stories. This is an annoying disease that if not treated, can turn your esophagus into something like bamboo, which will then need to be stretched with a medical balloon! We’ve had numerous scopes to find the trigger food and it’s only done by food elimination. Yep. There is not a test to check for allergies related to the esophagus because EOE has a delayed response to the trigger. This means a blood test or scratch test will be inaccurate…we did those anyway…hence, the only way to check if there is a reaction is to biopsy the food tube. This is a long process, so in the meantime, we’re constantly telling him to chew.

Food Combining 101

Back to Food Combining. Yes combining food makes a difference with stomach acid. Food combining gives you a little bit of control. When certain foods are put together they can either wreak havoc on your stomach or can give you energy. For instance, the classic steak n potato with melted butter, well it’s going to spoil in your stomach. You will most likely have bloating, stinky ‘wind’, and indigestion. This combo could also contribute to weight gain. And the melon salad with grilled chicken, well that’s going to do the same thing. This is not to confuse you, it’s just the opposite. Keeping a diet with a few simple rules will reap benefits in the short and long term. I made a simple, easy-to-understand food combining chart to help regulate your stomach acid. In my kitchen, I tape it to the inside of one of my cupboards. Don’t forget to head to Freebies to download yours today. All in all, remember to eat fruit alone on an empty stomach and only eat proteins with non-starchy vegetables. We’ve covered A LOT of information. Keep this post handy to reference for a quick guide.

Let’s end on a yummy note. Here’s a recipe to get you thinking in a low-acid direction: Better Belly Steak Dinner.

If you found this beneficial, please share it and give me a “like”. Thanks!

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By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

If there is one thing in how to help your digestive system it is to figure out what is causing the digestive issues. When it comes to gut cramping and rushing to the bathroom it’s usually a bad burrito and clears up in a few days on its own, but when the bowels howl longer than normal something needs more attention. In my own personal experience with IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease) over the years and with hours upon hours of research, I’ve found 10 major triggers that can set people off. If I would have known these triggers earilier, I would have healed a lot faster. My hope is that this post will save you a lot of time and frusteration. Let’s take a look at what might be triggering your lingering symptoms so you can get on the right intestinal track.

Step 1 in how to help your digestive system

Ever since I started to talk about my own digestive distress, more and more people have opened up to me about theirs. Let’s face it, talking about cramps and diarrhea is not something people want to talk about, but these things DO need to be talked about. A huge part of healing is understanding what’s going on and why. Knowing this, not only gives you peace of mind, but a solid direction to focus on in your healing journey.  Discovering your cause can be a frustrating maze but it could be as simple as asking around and doing some research. You never know what someone is going to say that could be your ticket to healing.

Let me reiterate that when people are silent about their chronic digestive system it is only going to make them worse.  What ends up happening is despair, loss of hope, loneliness, and settling with chronic misery. Self-confidence goes down the drain and limitations in physical activity and social outings go on the wayside. You do not deserve to live like this!

Listen up, this is super important

Another thing about “ignoring’ this issue is that if left untreated, it will lead to other misery down the road; for instance, vitamin absorption problems, depression, stress, hair thinning, and more. I’ve been there, done that, with tears and frustration and a sink full of hair. There is nothing worse than not understanding what is going on and if you’ll ever get better! So please, listen up to how to help your digestive system if you want to get better.

I HIGHLY recommend reading the “Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to identify and heal for good” book. I wish I had this information when I was having problems. This book would have saved me LOADS of time and frustration. Download, read, and heal. It’s a quick read packed with answers that will help you.

Encouragement Coaching Moment

First off, you will get better. If you want it bad enough, you will go into remission and will live a life of no more cramping, no more rushing to the bathroom, and no more uncertainty. The work it takes to heal is totally worth it. It is possible to manage this thing without having to take any pharmaceuticals! The body will heal if you help it.

Your healing journey begins with this

My journey has been quite a road. I am not a doctor or gastroenterologist, but I have experienced firsthand what it’s like to carry colitis and all that goes with it. With an un-relentless drive to figure it out, I’ve tried many different treatments and have spent hours and hours researching (probably too much time) in getting to the bottom of my imbalance. After all, when something isn’t right, things aren’t aligned. So this bullcrap all starts with what threw you off in the first place.

How to help your digestive system starts with questions.

Ask yourself the following questions and maybe even jot down your answers on a piece of paper. I have kept a “digestive journey” journal where I write down my flares, what might have happened before it, and what I tried to manage it. Answer these questions to help you figure your digestive issues out.

Was I recently sick? Stomach bug? Food poisoning? Bacteria infection?

What are my hormones doing?

Did I eat something funny? Eat too much of something? Eat the same thing every day?

Have I been taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc) on a regular basis?

Has my gallbladder been acting up? Do I still have my gallbladder?

What is my stress level been these days?

What exactly am I eating everyday?

Is my back out of whack?

Answering these questions might help you get on the right track from the get-go. It’s important to go over these things with your doctor or functional doctor before diving into a treatment plan.

A closer look at digestive triggers

Let’s take a closer look at what could be the cause of your cramps, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools, and stinky gas. When you have a flare, it is usually caused by a trigger. For instance, when I get a flare I can usually figure out what brought it on. Most of the time it was something I ate. But other times it’s been hormones, stress, or even a change in weather or time zones. The body is so amazing when it comes to healing; it wants to be aligned and working as it should. When it’s not, it tells you through pain or digestive distress. Let’s look at a few things that could be causing the alarms to go off.

Again, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This post is for information purposes only and to help you figure out what you might have going on.


What is IBS anyway? IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is simply an angry bowel. For instance, when I was a runner I would occasionally get really bad “poop cramps”, this is what IBS is, cramps out of the blue followed by urgency. With my story, the doctors first diagnosed me with IBS, since I knew what IBS was, I had a hard time respecting their diagnoses. Come to find out what I learned through the years is that if doctors can’t diagnose your digestive problem, they’ll usually say it’s IBS. When I went back to the doctor’s office I asked for a colonoscopy which gave us the real answer. So stick with your gut when you go to the doctor and ask a lot of questions; if they say it’s IBS, ask them why they think so.

Food sensitivities: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, grains, white sugar, fructose.

Food sensitivities are HUGE triggers that lead to digestive system issues. The number one ‘problem food’ is dairy. So many people have issues with dairy; in fact, I heard everyone is a little sensitive to dairy. Lactose intolerant or sensitivity to whey or casein (a protein found in milk) are a few roadblocks to dairy digestion.

The second big one is gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat. People who have Celiac disease cannot have any gluten. Most people with digestive issues steer clear of gluten as well. This bugger is hard to digest and wreaks havoc on your innards. Talk about inflammation! It’s just not worth it folks.

Other popular food sensitivities and allergies are nuts, eggs, soy, white sugar, nightshades, and fructose.

How do you know if you have a food sensitivity?

Pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Do you have a headache? Is your skin itchy or throat? Heartburn? Do you have gas cramps within an hour of eating? Dizzy? How about your nose, is it runny? What about severe congestion? Are you rushing to the bathroom?

Hormones: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

This is a tough one to figure out. Hormones play a factor in digestion? Women get a chance to pay close attention to our system every month (if we’re still menstruating). Both progesterone and prostaglandins can mess with your bowels. Even though prostaglandins focus on your uterus, they can also affect the colon that is nearby. Plus our friend, Progesterone, can pilot our trip to the bathroom more often.

On the flip side, when estrogen declines, cortisol rises, which can slow the digestion process down and cause constipation…a.k.a. too little progesterone. Without the proper balance of estrogen and progesterone, your bowels get a bit confused.


Who knew that a kink in your back could cause issues in digestion and elimination. The vertebrae in your spine are connected to nerves that send signals to the digestive system which includes the stomach and intestines. When the vertebrae are off or twisted this can affect those nerves and give you symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and bladder issues. Before you head to the chiro, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

A bug

There are some pesky bugs out there. Bacterial infections, viruses, and parasites, all of these cause inflammation. And when inflammation is present and not calmed down, irritation of the intestinal lining is sure to happen. E-coli, Guardia, Norovirus, and the stomach bug are the main culprits of diarrhea, not to mention vomiting. Yes, even though these are short-lived 1-7 days on average, they can mess up your gut flora and cause silent inflammation in your digestive tract. 

gluten-free granola bars

How to help your digestive system? Reduce stress

Constant stress on the body and mind can be a doozy for your digestion. It can throw your whole system off! From muscle tightness, knots in your gut, to indigestion, stress can physically hurt you. One thing you can do right now in answering the question of how to help your digestive system is to learn some stress-relieving techniques.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like acetaminophen and ibuprofen if taken on a regular basis can actually cause inflammation in your intestines. Yep. Too much of a good thing can backfire. This is true for anything, even food! When inflammation is present, cramps and diarrhea are sure to show up.

Lack of probiotics and digestive enzymes

Sometimes our bodies need a little help getting back on track. Probiotics and/or digestive enzymes are here to save the day. Getting the right bugs in your gut makes a big difference in your digestive health; a game-changer for most folks. The hard part is figuring out what probiotics or digestive enzymes you’re lacking. This is especially important if you’ve been on a regimen of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill everything in your gut, so it’s important to get your gut back up and running as it should. Incorporating probiotics after your antibiotic treatment will help you bounce back a little quicker.

Probiotics may need to be taken every day depending on your condition. The added bonus is they also help your immune system and even skin.

If you have heartburn or stomach acid issues please read my post about stomach acid, it goes more in-depth about digestive enzymes and food combining, you will get a digestive enzyme chart as well!

Bile acid

This sounds kind of gross but excess bile acid from your digestive system can cause diarrhea. Bile acid diarrhea (BAD) or bile acid malabsorption (BAM) is what can cause that urgency, watery, and bloating feeling. Bile acids are produced by your good ole liver and stored in your gallbladder. Their job is to help break down fats to put it simply. For people who have had their gallbladder removed, you may experience a bit of diarrhea…at least now you know why. However, sometimes the body can get confused and cause large amounts of bile acids to exit into the large intestine, hence, diarrhea. Normally there is very little bile acid in the large intestine. I highly recommend you continue to investigate this; check out for starters.  


Where do we start with yeast? Is it good or bad? Well, if you get too much of it, it can trigger diarrhea. Along with yeast-associated diarrhea, you may see other signs of too much yeast by looking at your tongue. If it has a white coat on it, you probably have more yeast than you need. You could also have sinus infections, fatigue, and skin fungal issues. The medical term for an overabundance of yeast is Candida. Check out Dr. Axe about Candida.

In conclusion: how to help your digestive system

WHEW! That was a lot to take in. But how to help your digestive system is no joke. From my personal experience, I wish I had this post in my hands when it all started in me. Again, I can’t tell you how many hours I researched diarrhea. I’ve probably clocked as many hours as a gastroenterologist. Anyway, healing is possible, but you must want it to happen. And if you really want it bad enough, you’ll be able to manage it without drugs and their nasty side effects. You got this. Healing takes time so keep moving forward. To help you get started in healing your gut I wrote this mini book: Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to Identitfy and Heal for Good. It only takes a few minutes to read, but could contain your path to healing! Download it for under $5.

Please note: talk to your doctor or find a functional doctor before you jump into anything new. If you want to go the natural way without prescriptions, I’ve had success with a functional doctor.

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By CT Copyright © 2022 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved
4 Amazing Tips for Weight Loss

4 Amazing Tips for Weight Loss

The only way to change is to change. If you want to feel better and lose weight then grab these tips for weight loss. Here’s the thing, weight loss doesn’t have to be hard or depriving. I have a simple philosophy that will bring you relief and motivation; plus it’s backed up by science. Simply put: TAKE. IT. SLOW. Read about my four game-changing tips for losing weight and keeping it off for good!

Changing the diet isn’t something I could do cold turkey. In fact, I’m allergic to turkey! Hence the going slow part. With a gradual approach, you’re more likely to stick with it and for longer if not forever! Chris Kresser uses the words, “shrink the change“.

The 4 Tips for weight loss

Weight loss Tip #1: Go Gradual

The trick to losing weight is to eat a healthier diet so the body can clean out the bad stuff, call me Sherlock-Homes. I repeat, when you take a gradual approach, this gives your body time to adjust and not be shocked. If you lose weight too fast, it could backfire and you’ll be headfirst in the bag of cheese puffs…not to mention gain even more weight! The cool thing about gradually reducing the bad stuff, like sugar, is that your body will start to crave healthier foods. You’ll feel better and the sugary snacks will start to taste bad. Interesting, eh? The bottom line is that our bodies will feel better with cleaner foods and they’ll want more of that awesome clean energy. Stick to simple ingredients and ingredients that you understand.

Tip #2: Awareness is key!

Awareness. Sugar was my number one weakness. It still is, but I’m now aware of my consumption and I know my limits. When I adjusted my intake of the sweet stuff I finally understood the ‘less is more’ philosophy. My taste buds became more content and my body was a happy human. Did you hear that? I didn’t give up sugar completely, I just cut back immensely. With that said, I wanted to share with you what I used to eat for lunch and what I’m eating now for lunch.

What’s for lunch?

Back in the day of wanting to lose weight, I would only eat a salad for lunch. It contained greens, Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and maybe fresh broccoli. I didn’t have any protein or cheese. Just veggies. I chose whatever salad dressing sounded good, however, I would dip my fork in the dressing before I stabbed a helping of lettuce. Not too shabby of a lunch; but for me, it didn’t hold me over, which lead to a Snickers Bar in the afternoon, and then a hefty snack after work. Can we say blood sugar on the fritz?

The small change I made was to add protein to my salad in the form of lean protein, I’m not talking cheese or other dairy products; but things like nuts, eggs, or grilled chicken are good choices. At lunch I still aim to have more greens than protein.

4 tips to change up weight loss

Tip for losing weight #3: Know your body

Know your body. If you need protein, get protein with every meal. Whether it’s nuts, clean meat, or low-fat dairy (if you can tolerate it) make sure you get enough protein into your diet. If you don’t, you’ll be hungry all the time and your blood sugar will be on the fritz. Protein helps you feel satisfied longer, it gives you energy, and need I say meat is an excellent source of B12, B6, zinc, and iron to name a few?

A little bit more about protein

Protein builds muscle mass, and it’s especially good after a workout. Add a little vitamin C to the mix and you’ve got a digestive helper and a helping hand at iron absorption. Listen up! The meat won’t make you fat unless it’s highly marbled or fatty; you also want to keep in check your portions. Choose lean beef, grilled chicken, grilled or baked fish, nuts, legumes, eggs, or pork loin. Don’t be scared to add it to your diet or your salad. Remember portion-control is king.

does a body good

Tip 4#: be prepared

Okay, okay, okay…you’re at work and can’t make lunch. That’s okay! You have a couple of options for a healthy clean lunch; the most obvious is to make it the night before. The other is to choose simple, limited, ingredient dishes when eating out. For instance, a 100% beef burger without the bun paired with a side of steamed veggies or a cup of clear broth soup, is a great lunch. It’s not heavy in carbs (bread or pasta) and it’s high in protein. You can also opt for an “unwich”, a sandwich without the bread. I eat this all the time but use lettuce instead of bread. Some people use a gluten-free wrap, turn the sandwich inside out…lettuce in the center and lean ham for the wrap. If you want this weight loss thing to work, you need to be prepared and stay on point. Pack ahead or have a plan when eating out.

All in all: Keep it simple

Think ‘simple’ when at a restaurant and think portion control! As for drinks, you know what I’m going to say…water without ice. Hey, it may be a little boring, but your body will be quieter and happier. You may not even need to drink water with your meal. Too much aqua with food will cause a lot of vitamins to flush through your system, plus it will take longer to digest the yum yums. I hope you found these tips for losing weight helpful. Remember to take a gradual approach, be aware of what you’re eating, know your body, and be prepared. You got this if you want it. Keep moving forward!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly, LLC All Rights Reserved.

First Step to Losing Weight: 5 Effective Questions

First Step to Losing Weight: 5 Effective Questions

The first step to losing weight isn’t cutting back on calories, it’s much simpler than that. To be successful with weight loss and the management thereafter, it’s going to take a pencil and paper. There’s more to weight loss than weight. That’s why the first step in losing weight should be to answer some questions. Clarity gives you a pathway. This can seriously be a total game-changer for you!

My Story

In 1992 I was 20 pounds overweight. I know this was a long time ago, but that’s important to know. Listen up, I wanted to lose the weight, but all the things I was trying to drop pounds weren’t working. It was like walking in the sand; every step seemed so hard and it barely felt like I was going anywhere!

Then something clicked and changed my weight destiny into a reality. When I did this first step in losing weight, the weight came off. My story is an interesting one, wondering if you can relate. At that time I was a freshman at a small college. As months ticked by in this new setting, the weight inched on. However, I noticed that sitting and studying weren’t the cause of my weight gain, it was actually depression! I’m not saying that all weight gain is due to depression, but this was my story. I was living in a toxic environment where judgment after judgment was passed. As if high school was bad enough, this was worse! Something had to change. I wanted to be happy, to find me, to be free.

does a body good

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when my roommates and I were watching TV in the common area. We happened to be watching an Indiana University basketball game. One of my roommates said something that stirred my inner core. She said, “I’d love to go to Indiana.” I looked at her as she watched the game and asked, “Why don’t you?” She responded, “Because I don’t know anyone and I don’t think I can get in.”

Her answer struck a chord in me. You’re letting the fear of not knowing, stop you? It was as if I was asking myself that question. As I watched the game and the exciting fans…I began to want to be a part of that picture. I wanted a large university experience.

Be true to yourself

What does this have to do with the first step in losing weight? I’m getting there. In the fall of ’93, I was officially an Indiana University student. I was in a new setting, with new people, and new goals. I faced a fear and made things happen, not knowing what would happen.

Within six months, I lost 20 pounds and then some; all because I looked at my thought process first. On the surface, I wanted to lose weight, but deep down I wanted to explore who I was and be true to myself. When I understood my motives, the weight naturally came off.

Are you asking yourself the right question/s before you start your weight loss plan? Do you have a picture of what you want to be a part of?

This is the first step to losing weight:

This leads me to the core: it’s not what we’re eating or doing, it’s what we’re thinking. It’s not the weight on our bodies that give us frustration; it’s the weight we carry around in our minds that trip us up.

First off, I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight; you’re going to do that. Why? Because I want YOU to see results in more areas than one. I want you to live in harmony with your body, mind, and heart for the rest of your life…not just swimsuit season. And only YOU can make that happen, not someone telling you what to do.

Does a Body Good Printable

5 Questions You’ll Want to Answer.

1: What is your WHY? Why do you want to lose weight? I’m not talking surface answers here. Peal that off, look under that. WHY? Write this down in a journal.

2: What are you WRESTLING with? What’s blocking you from making this happen? What are you carrying around with you? Stress? A belief? Fear? Identity crisis? Loneliness?

3: What is your WAY? In other words, what method works for YOU to reach your weight goals? What are you going to do EACH WEEK to make this happen?

4: What will you WIN? By reaching your goal, what is it going to do for you? Freedom? Confidence? More energy? More outgoing? Motivation? Purpose?

5: What is it WORTH?

Wrapping up

I’m happy to say I’ve kept the weight off ever since my Indiana days; even after having a baby and going through steroid treatment for an ailment. I have managed the weight; not the other way around. There is no better feeling than saying, “I finally figured it out.” If you need encouragement, please visit my Etsy store and check out my Simplify in Seven mini e-book. This workbook focuses on simplifying our budget, organizing our stuff, getting our health under control, and simplifying our electronics. Download it off Etsy.

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Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly, All Rights Reserved.

How to Stay Healthy: 15 Simple Ways

How to Stay Healthy: 15 Simple Ways

How to stay healthy is a skill. To keep our immune system functioning at top speed during ‘sick season’ there are a few things we can do to ward off illness and increase health. I’ve got 15 simple yet powerful ways you won’t want to miss in preventing sickness.

When I got more conscience about germs.

Back in 2001, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This meant my immune system was whacked, confused, or bored, I don’t know. My immune system was attacking healthy organs. I literally had a war going on inside me. It was me versus me. When something like this happens in our bodies steroid treatment is usually the first line of treatment. It surely has its side effects, but it’s what helped me get things back in balance. After a good eleven years with an amazing gastroenterologist and an adjustment to my diet, the war ended.

However, during this time on steroids, my immune system was compromised. Steroids suppress the immune system, meaning they make your body more prone to getting sick. Not to mention it takes twice as long as normal to get better from colds, flu, and viruses. So while on this treatment I had to be careful not to get sick, because if I did…and I would …it take me forever to get over a simple cold. 

Since 2011 I have been steroid-free. However, immune systems can get pretty touchy with other factors like hormones or dormant genes, so I’m always on alert.

Germaphobe, not so.

Please know I am not a full-blown germaphobic. Yes, I pay attention to my surroundings and am aware of the little buggers, but I also know it’s important to develop our immune systems by offering hospitality to our bug friends. Throughout life, I have learned a lot about germs and how to care for myself, and I certainly want to pass this knowledge onto you. Whether you’re on steroid treatment or just want to remain healthy during outbreaks, keep these things in mind in caring for yourself and your family.

**First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This article is for information purposes only.**

15 Ways to How to Stay Healthy and Boost Immune System

1. Exercise

I read an article about longevity. And the number one action we can take to live longer is to move our bodies. Exercising keeps the blood flowing and pumping. It keeps us young and helps the joints loosen up and work like they’re supposed to. It’s also good for regularity, which is key to rid of toxins. Aim for at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes is ideal. Try breathing in your nose and out your mouth.

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2. Use a humidifier.

In the winter months, my humidifier is my best friend. I LOVE my humidifier. In my book on how to stay healthy during the sick season, I use a humidifier to keep nasal passageways moist. Meaning with viruses, when a surface is moist it has a harder time sticking and penetrating through our body. Keep things slippery. Sleep with a humidifier and drink a lot of water. The noise of the humidifier will rock you to sleep as well. Here’s my happy little humidifier.

3. Drink lots of water.

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Remember, keep things slippery in your body. Viruses like to stick to things. They like dryness. Don’t give them a foothold. Because our drinking water out of the faucets and plastic bottles is somewhat questionable, it’s more cost-effective and valuable to our health to install a water filter on the kitchen sink. My family uses this kind of water filter. If you can’t do this with your sink, get one of the water filter pitchers or a Berkey

4. Wash your hands.

This is common sense, but many of us forget to wash our hands with soap! Ever since my son was a toddler I have drilled into him to wash his hands every time we walk in the house. Now I don’t have to ask him to wash his hands because he automatically does it!

This goes along with hand sanitizer. There are a lot of opinions on hand sanitizer. I get it. But if you have a compromised immune system, my opinion is to use it. Put a squirt or a spray on your patty cakes. Especially so if you’re in a place where you just shook someone’s hand who is clearly sick, use hand sanitizer when they’re not looking.

5. Keep your humor.

Keep the mood light. There have been studies about how humor can help heal and how to stay healthy. The mind and body work together, and when one is off it usually affects the other. Being funny isn’t that hard around the family. One idea is to tell a corny joke at the dinner table or in the car. Kids love these things, even tweens and teens! To help you out I have 96 family-friendly jokes ready to go! Head to my Etsy store for an instant download.

Lunchbox Note Jokes

6. Wipes.

The hand wipes (not the cleaning wipes) come in handy in traveling situations or times when a bathroom is not available. Similar to hand sanitizer they clean up most germs but wipes also get the dirt off.  When we’re on a road trip, I use wipes to wash our hands before biting into our burgers. Or when I hop on a plane, I always wipe down the armrests and table in my airplane seat. Simply look at the surfaces you’re touching and wipe.  

7. How to stay healthy, keep fingers off your face.

This is one of the main causes of sickness. Picking our noses without thinking, rubbing our eyes, putting our pen up to our lips, and picking our teeth can be a welcome mat for germs. To keep our digits from messing with our face it’s best to train yourself to not touch your face. Simply make it a game to see how long you can go without touching your face. If you have an itch, use your arm, tissue, or sleeve.

9 easy to find foods to ramp up your immune system

8. Eat immune-boosting foods

Here are some simple foods that increase your odds of how to stay healthy.

Broccoli. This green veggie is packed with vitamins A, C, and E. It has amazing antioxidants and is full of fiber.

Bone Broth. Bone what? This is broth from boiling chicken bones or beef bones for long periods of time. The collagen and amino acids is cooked out of the bones. And it’s these hidden gems that help repair the gut lining and reduce inflammation. Not to mention help our joints.

Garlic and Ginger. These antibacterial powerhouses have the ability to be like a hand wipe but for inside our bodies. The list of benefits is way too long to list here. These yum-yums also boost up our lung health.

Vitamin C Foods: citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, spinach. I don’t think you need an explanation of vitamin C. Just know your body doesn’t accumulate it, so you’ll need to consume it every day.

Vitamin E. This vitamin is equally important as vitamin C. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it needs to have fat to absorb properly. Sources of vitamin E include almonds, avocado, butternut squash, and wheat germ.

Yogurt. Bust into the probiotics. For yogurt to be effective choose Greek PLAIN yogurt. If there is sugar added to the yogurt it defeats it purpose. I know there are delicious flavors out there, but save those as a dessert, not for your daily probiotic. Use berries or honey to flavor your yogurt.

Turmeric. It’s filled with curcumin, this is what makes it a bright color. Turmeric has massive amounts of anti-inflammatory properties that help with all sorts of inflammation. It’s like a superfood. Check it out here.

Zinc. This micro-mineral is essential for a healthy immune system, although it is touchy. If you have too much you could get sick, and if you have too little you can get sick. It’s best to get your zinc through foods. High sources of zinc are found in chicken, chickpeas, clams, crab, eggs, grass-fed beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and plain yogurt.

does a body good

9. Sleep.

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Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to recharge your body. It’s when we’re sleeping our body does the most of the healing. Have a bedtime routine. And get your room ready for slumber. Things you’ll want to consider are room temperature, the number of blankets, humidifier, pillow comfort, and sound machine. These are my must-do’s for sleepy time.

10. Clean your home.

I’m not just talking about vacuuming, I’m referring to wiping things down with disinfectant wipes or sprays. You’ll want to do countertops, kitchen cupboard knobs, faucet handle, refrigerator/freezer door handles, microwave handle, stove and oven knobs, all door handles, and more. I have a checklist for you to download right here: Disinfecting Checklist. You can also find it in Freebies along with some other amazing tips.

11. Vaccines.

This is such a touchy subject. Again everyone has their own opinion of vaccines, so I’ll leave this one up to you.

12. Steer clear of smoking and limit alcohol.

I know these are fun things to indulge in but if you’re serious about becoming stronger and healthier, these can’t be ignored. Pay attention to how much you’re using and consuming. Remember less is more.

13. Facemasks.

Again, this is a touchy subject. Do what you want, but in my experience, I have found these helpful in high contagious situations. Herd immunity is a great thing, but if you just got done being sick with something and need a break before joining the herd again, wear a facemask to give your immune system a time-out. You can make your own mask at home. Here is the pattern on YouTube. And here is a great article on what type of fabric is the most effective. It’s very surprising! I made this silly video when COVID first hit the planet.

14. Cover hands after the bathroom

 Do you know that door handle in public restrooms? After you wash your hands, keep the paper towel you dried your hands with and use that to open the door. No paper towel? Use your sleeve.

15. Gargle salt water

If you feel a tingle in your throat or have a hunch you may be coming down with something, gargle saltwater. Salt can kill those pesky bugs and viruses if you get at it in time before it’s too late. In how to stay healthy, this trick is a great yet simple weapon. It may not be task pleasant, and you may accidentally swallow a little bit, but gargling salt water helps.

How to gargle saltwater starts with warm water and table salt. I mix 2 tablespoons or 1.5 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of warm water. Make sure you stir it. Take a small sip, tilt your head back and gargle for about 20 seconds then spit it out. Repeat this until all the water is gone. You want to make sure you’re getting the back of the throat, but try not to swallow. I repeat, DO NOT swallow the saltwater.

In conclusion with our immune system

Out of all these 15 suggestions on how to stay healthy during the sick season, there is one that is super important: keep your fingers off your face. I know that sounds ‘toddler-ish’ but it really is the most important factor. Use common sense too. Drinking from someone else’s drink or using the same spoon for a taste is not a good idea. Neither is kissing a sick person. Use the brain to protect the body, and the body will then protect you. Stay healthy, be mindful, and teach your family how to stay healthy.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

3 Essential Tactics for Holiday Eating

3 Essential Tactics for Holiday Eating

Holiday eating here we come! What is your approach to Holiday eating? Do you go in with an attitude of “It’s the Holidays I’m diving in!” or are you, “It’s the Holiday, time to deprive myself if I want to keep my figure.” Let me help you enjoy holiday eating without deprivation or gorge. Learn my three essential tactics to eliminate the haunt of guilt and to enjoy all your holiday foods.

Is this your holiday eating?

You’re at a holiday party, you made a promise with yourself that you were NOT going to eat very much. You said, “I will not eat the spinach dip; it’s too high in calories.” But after a couple of drinks and peer pressure…come-on, you know peer pressure still exists out of high school…temptation wins. However! You’re not headed for the spinach dip; instead, you are headfirst in the hot chicky dip. Before you know it you’re laying on your bed, bloated, asking yourself what just happened?

Friend, you were just deceived by hot chicky dip and you let the opponent kick a field goal. To make holiday eating work for you without depriving yourself of holiday goodness and traditions…not to mention less aggressive New Year Resolutions…you must have a strategy!

Holiday eating a game?

Think of holiday eating as a game. When preparing for any sporting event, yes I just called holiday eating a sporting event, there are a few things serious athletes do to strengthen their game.

1 – They study their opponent, learn its schemes, and beat it at its own game.

2 – They condition for the game. You can’t just run a marathon without training. If you did, you’d burn out a lot faster and have cramping, even injury.

3 – They have a plan, a strategy, to lead them to victory!

My food shame.

I remember one Christmas where I constantly ate. Seriously! I grazed all day long, so much so, my Uncle said to me, “You’re still eating?” I looked at him as if I got busted with my hand in the cookie jar. Yep, it’s been almost 30 years since then and that comment apparently scarred me.

At the time of this event, I was overweight and stuffing my emotions, not a good time in my life. “If I just have one more handful of Chex Mix…the kind with peanuts and M&M’s…that should complete my feast.” Ha ha ha! I crack myself up like that’s going to happen. The tricky thing about holiday parties is that there is food lying around everywhere! Not just celery sticks and fruit kabobs, but hot chicky pip, Chex Mix, cookies, buckeyes, peanut brittle, and cocktail weenies! Temptation constantly surrounds our senses. What are we to do?

Tactic #1: Study your opponent.

Your opponent in holiday eating isn’t the spread of delicious dishes. It’s your mind! Your opponent is how you think about food and how that thinking trumps your holiday goals. It’s that space between choice and outcome. Do you want to go into the holidays the same size you come out of it? Do you want to lose weight, gain weight, or just don’t give a rip about your weight? If you don’t care, okay. But if you do care, you will win at this game and feel great physically and mentally!

You have a couple of advantages right from the start. The first is that you know your habits. You know what happens when you have a cocktail in your hand or when you get around certain people. Pay attention to what your other hand is doing…reaching for the 7-layer bars?

The second advantage is that you know your weaknesses. When you walk into the kitchen and see the spinach dip, you know you’ll submit. Hence, spinach dip is your weakness. However, the trick is to weigh your choice. You know that spinach dip has cream cheese in it, a high-calorie ingredient; so you tell yourself you’re going to avoid the spinach dip tonight. So, what are you going to replace it with? You decide to choose the hot chicky dip, after all, you heard spicy foods help you lose weight. So you went to town on it. But wait! Unbeknown to you, hot chicky dip has cream cheese in it too. You just ate 10 times more calories eating hot chicky dip to fill the void of the spinach dip…you gained nothing but weight in that choice.

With this tactic, you must know yourself, understand your triggers, and be prepared. Research healthy dips or other appetizers in advance of going to a holiday party. If any dip looks creamy or white in color it likely has cream cheese or sour cream in it.

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Tactic #2: Train for the game.

No, no, no. I know what you’re thinking. You are not going to train as those completive eaters do. This kind of training involves self-control and understanding what treats are good choices for your particular goal. I’m assuming you want to make smart choices that aren’t going to make you gain weight.

With that said, do not deprive yourself! The more you deprive, the more you will eat something else to fill that hankering. I talked about this in tactic #1. Make a promise to yourself that you will not overindulge. I didn’t say ‘no have any’, I said to not eat more than you should.

holiday party

To answer that first question, my tip is to put a limit to only having three cracker-fulls of spinach dip. And to eat them SLOW! Enjoy the flavors, just don’t stuff it down. This tip is for those high-calorie apps. Limit the number you have then walk away.

Let me answer the second question for you. Is it worth having two? Five? Ten? NO! It’s not worth eating more. Save those extra calories for another glass of wine or some hot chicky dip. Think portion control.

For the third question, “How are you going to feel after you eat it?” That’s an easy question to answer if you have dietary restrictions. Are you going to feel guilty, defeated, or depressed? What about gassy, bloated, or rumbled with cramps? Again, if you were to ask me, it’s not worth any of those.

Tactic #3: Have a plan.

You’ve probably heard that eating protein and drinking water before you go to a party helps you to not overeat at the gathering. Well, it’s true! Have a bottle of water while you’re getting dolled up. And before you head out the door roll up a few slices of turkey or eat some grilled chicken. Stick to protein. No carbs. You’ll get plenty of those at the party.

Holiday eating goodness.

Okay, that does it for going to a holiday party, but what if you don’t do parties and you just want to get through the holidays feeling great and staying healthy? Good question. This approach starts at least two weeks beforehand. If you can get more weeks under your belt it would be better.

To go with the ‘feeling great and staying healthy’ path, my #1 tip is to create a meal plan and to stick to it. Know ahead of time what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And know what to snack on. Have those healthy snacks in the house so you don’t panic and eat anything you can find. I created a meal plan for you to get ideas off of. You can download it here.

meal plan

You’ll notice my meal plan isn’t filled with carbs, or dairy products, let alone sugar. It’s simple, filled with nutrients, and clean. This will help clean out the body of toxins and put your cravings in check. And always drink lots of water.

Holiday eating doesn’t need to be a curse or a five-pound tradition. With understanding yourself, using portion control, and having a plan you’ll experience a guilt-free holiday season that will catapult you into a fantastic start to the New Year!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Omega, Oils, Why I’m Picky. Plus Walleye Recipe!

Omega, Oils, Why I’m Picky. Plus Walleye Recipe!

Omega. Or should I say ‘Oh-me-ga’ on the omegas? There is a lot of hype about these fatty acids and it can be overwhelming. Healthy oils for our bodies can be tricky to figure out. Let me make it simple for you with this quick go-to-guide. As an added bonus, I’ll tell you about the best-saturated fat that benefits our bodies! Huh?

To supplement, or not to supplement? You might not need to. There are 3 major oils in the omega family: omega-3, 6, and 9. All are unique and serve a different purpose. I’m here to simplify the explanation of them all.  


First and foremost, Omega-3 cannot be produced in the human body, which means you need to get these from your diet. This fatty acid gets a lot of attention and it should! It’s good for producing good HDL cholesterol, which is good for your heart. This omega can reduce symptoms of depression, help with mental disorders, can prevent and manage autoimmune diseases, and can also help with weight management. Did you hear that? Fat can help you lose weight. Omega-3s are good for your liver and they’re anti-inflammatory. This oil can prevent dementia and improve memory. Not only that, but it betters bone mineral density and, get this, it can help reduce symptoms of asthma. Wow, powerful oil, no wonder it gets so much attention. The two highest sources of Omega-3s are fish oil and flaxseed (vegan) oil. Some other sources include:

  1.  Atlantic Mackerel: 6,982 milligrams in 1 cup cooked (174 percent DV)
  2. Salmon Fish Oil: 4,767 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (119 percent DV)
  3. Cod Liver Oil: 2.664 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (66 percent DV)
  4. Walnuts: 2,664 milligrams in 1/4 cup (66 percent DV)
  5. Chia Seeds: 2,457 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (61 percent DV)
  6. Herring: 1,885 milligrams in 3 ounces (47 percent DV)
  7. Alaskan Salmon (wild-caught): 1,716 milligrams in 3 ounces (42 percent DV)
  8. Flaxseeds (ground): 1,597 milligrams in 1 tablespoon (39 percent DV)
  9. Albacore Tuna: 1,414 milligrams in 3 ounces (35 percent DV)
  10. White Fish: 1,363 milligrams in 3 ounces (34 percent DV)
  11. Sardines: 1,363 milligrams in 1 can/3.75 ounces (34 percent DV)
  12. Hemp Seeds: 1,000 milligrams  in 1 tablespoon (25 percent DV)
  13. Anchovies: 951 milligrams in 1 can/2 ounces (23 percent DV)
  14. Natto: 428 milligrams in 1/4 cup (10 percent DV)
  15. Egg Yolks: 240 milligrams in 1/2 cup (6 percent DV)

(source: Dr. Axe)

With the olive oil craze, it is a source of all the omegas. My favorite, hands-down olive oil is California Ranch Olive Oil. It’s 100% olive oil. It has a great taste for salads, dipping…my mouth is watering…and cooking. Click on the picture below for more details.


You don’t hear much about Omega-6, because if you get too much it could backfire. And according to this article, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet should be 4:1, but in the Western diet the ratio is much higher, 10:1 and 50:1! Ouch. They are still essential for producing energy and if taken correctly this fatty acid helps with treating the symptoms of chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer (in conjunction with another drug). On top of that, it can also reduce body fat, once again, a fat to reduce fat. The top two sources of Omega-6s are Evening Primrose Oil and Safflower oil.

Nitty Gritty on Omega-6

I personally supplement evening primrose oil to help with my hormones. A word of caution, you don’t need to supplement with omega-6. Remember too much could increase inflammation. Keep in mind that other sources of omega-6s are soybeans, corn, and sunflower oils. Note these sources are usually treated with chemicals in the field before processing…which some chemicals leach into our food…hence digestive disorders and disease. If possible, consume organic.


These fatty acids are a bit different. They can be produced by the body. Some studies indicated they could help reduce inflammation and assist with insulin sensitivity. Yes, you shouldn’t have to supplement Omega-9’s because our bodies do a good job of taking care of them. The top three sources include macadamia nut oil, hazelnut oil, and olive oil. Avocado oil is also a source.

Does a Body Good Printable

Now what?

First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share information I have either experienced myself or are extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give it to you a nutshell. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things.

So what do we do with all this information? Out of all of the Omegas, Omega-3 is the most important. If you eat enough seafood and healthy fats, like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts & seeds, eggs, grass-fed organic beef, and dark chocolate, you should be good to go. I obviously didn’t go into the difference between monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, or saturated fats; if you want more of a ‘science’ explanation there is a great article here.

Bonus! Don’t miss this one.

There is an amazing fatty acid that is 90% saturated fat, but the highest in content of lauric acid, which in a twisted way can help improve the level of lipids traveling through the blood. That means it is likely it will reduce the risk of heart disease! That sounds pretty technical, but I wanted to share this with you because I eat this every day.

What I’m talking about is Coconut Oil. There are so many benefits to coconut oil, you will be blown away, in fact, there are so many benefits it can be a bit overwhelming. To keep it simple I’ll list the top 15 in a minute. But get this, some studies show that it may reduce belly fat and dampen our appetites…hello…more weight loss from fat! Word of CAUTION: too much of a good thing can backfire. Don’t consume more than 2 TBSP a day. If you have too much it can cause diarrhea.

What kind to get?

Coconut oil is a staple in our family. I no longer use butter on my toast, pancakes, or in my baking. Not to mention fish frying. We just had gluten-free fried walleye last night and fried it in coconut oil (recipe is at the bottom). And of course, we used our cast iron pans. Seriously, cast iron is a must. It’s the healthiest chemical-free pan, and it’s super easy to clean. The walleye was absolutely amazing!

Keep in mind when cooking with coconut oil you won’t taste the coconut. It’s a clean oil with a high flash point. When buying coconut oil get the Virgin, Unrefined. A little coconut oil can go a long way, just don’t overdo it. Ready for the powerful impact this stuff can do?

Coconut Oil Benefits – Top 15

1. It helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

2. It can help treat Alzheimer’s.

3. It BE good for the ole liver.

4. Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis

5. It’s an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral! Works well on cuts and skin issues.

6. Improves energy

7. It helps the gut heal by destroying bad bacteria and that nasty Candida (yeast overgrowth).

8. Prevents Osteoporosis by helping to increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium.

9. It’s Anti-aging. Now we’re talkin’!

10. It helps balance hormones naturally. Now we’re really talkin’!

11. Thickens hair and helps with dandruff. It’s a natural hair conditioner.

12. It helps improve sleep when consumed every day.

13. It can help with environmental allergies if you rub the inside of your nose with it.

14. Speeds up the healing of sunburn.

15. It’s an amazing oil to make homemade popcorn with. Just sub coconut oil in place of your other oil. Yum!

Sources: Dr. Axe, Wellness Mama

Where to buy?

We get our coconut oil from Costco because we go through quite a bit. If you don’t have a Costco Membership, no problem! You can get it on Amazon. I highly recommend this product, especially if you use a lot. If you don’t use a whole lot, get a smaller container at the store.

click for price

Coconut Oil Shelf-life

Coconut oil can go bad, here’s an article from David at about what to look for in rancid oil. All in all, keep your diet simple and powerful with clean fresh food. Oil does a body good. Don’t be afraid of it, just choose wisely. Now here’s the walleye recipe I promised!


Fried Walleye

Walleye fried in coconut oil.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword egg-free, fish, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Servings 1 person
Calories 229kcal
Cost $3.00


  • Cast Iron Pan
  • Tongs
  • Filet Knife
  • Cuttingboard
  • Bowl
  • Papertowel


  • 3 oz. Freshly caught walleye Go by size not weight, 1 large filet or so will work.
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil A heaping tablespoon in solid form.
  • 1/3 cup Pancake Mix I used Trader Joe's Gluten-free Buttermilk Pancake Mix.
  • 1 tsp Salt


  • Wash fish off in cold water, pat try with a paper towel. Carefully remove any skin from walleye with a filet knife.
  • Turn stove on to medium heat and heat cast iron pan.
  • Put solid coconut oil in the pan. After it melts, you may need to adjust how much. You want about 1/4 inch of melted oil. Do not let the oil smoke…this is too hot.
  • While the pan is slowly heating up. Place fish into the pancake mix and dust all sides.
  • Slowly insert dusted fish into the hot cast iron pan. The oil should sizzle.
  • When you see the outer edges of fish start to brown, about 2 minutes; flip the fish with the tongs gently and cook for another 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the stove and transfer cooked walleye to a plate covered with a paper towel. 229
    walleye recipe
  • Salt the fish to your liking.
  • Eat within a few minutes.


Calories are an estimate. Walleye is 79 calories per 3 ounzes. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

Need a cast iron pan? You can get them on Amazon. And it’s Prime! Click on the picture below for more details.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly, All Rights Reserved.

Salmon in a Skillet Recipe

Salmon in a Skillet Recipe

Salmon is one of those fish that can be prepared in various ways. It’s so versatile and delicious, not to mention, good for you! I’ve eaten salmon baked, broiled, grilled, poached, and pan-fried. What’s my favorite? For me, it depends on the time of year. And this time of year is a great time to use a skillet to cook your fish. Even though it’s in the dead of winter this fish will taste as it came off the grill.

My recipe is super simple, clean, and easy to make. It only has three ingredients: olive oil, salmon, and salt (seasoning of your choice). That’s it! Unless you have a fish allergy, this fish is good for everyone.

salmon in a skillet recipe

What’s salmon got to do with it?

Before we get to cookin, let’s look into this delicious fish. In the summer of 1995, my sister and I drove up to Alaska and spent the summer in a fish processing plant. Well, most of the summer. It was an amazing experience! We camped on the beach, worked in yellow slicker gear, and ate salmon cooked in foil, dressed with butter…baked over the campfire I must say. Besides eating halibut cheeks, this salmon was AMAZING!

Jump to Recipe

What I learned at the fish processing plant.

While at the fish processing plant, I learned a great deal of knowledge. For one, I learned that fish eyeballs can stick to you. The second lesson I learned that you could make a box of macaroni and cheese in the microwave. Yes, it’s true! The third thing I learned was how to clean a fish! And probably the most important piece of knowledge I learned were the different types of salmon that I had to sort on the sorting table.

salmon processing
Me in my slicker gear

During this particular season we had five types to sort: the King or Chinook, the Sockeye or Red, the Coho or Silver, the Chum or Dog Salmon, and the lovely Pink salmon. Each had its distinct features and, yes, we had to smell them. If the fish didn’t smell good, it got a bad grade and was probably sent to a pet food plant…I don’t really know.

Alaska salmon the best?

Good question. I have no idea. Salmon aren’t just in Alaska. They are in the Atlantic Ocean and even some freshwater lakes and rivers. For instance, every fall we go fishing in Michigan for Steelhead. They are not as tasty as Sockeyes, but they still have great benefits.

My son’s Steelhead. So HUGE! We did not eat this one…too old.

What about the health benefits?

The health benefits of salmon are amazing! They are filled with good fat. This kind of fat won’t make you fat. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help reduce inflammation in your body. And when inflammation is reduced, the less likely you’ll get sick, and I’m not talking colds, I’m talking about the big stuff. It’s also really good for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or Colitis. Here are some other great benefits:

It’s high in vitamin D!

Helps improves your bone health.

It’s good for your heart.

Great for brain function…hello memory!

Helps us focus better.

Good for your weight.

High in B vitamins.

Good source of potassium.

Gives us a boost in hair and skin health.

Sources: Dr. Axe and Healthline
does a body good

Okay, that’s salmon in a nutshell. I didn’t cover everything about his amazing fish, just gave you a taste (no pun intended). Let’s get to the salmon recipe!


Skillet Salmon

The is hands down one of the best ways to make salmon. Crusty outside, flaky inside, and served with easy mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe is super simple and amazingly delicious. One of my favorites!
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword fish, panfry fish, salmon
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 400kcal
Cost 4.00


  • Cast Iron Pan


  • 1 fillet Salmon Take the skin off if it isn't already, check for bones.
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil Put this in the pan while it's heaing up
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning or Salt You can use any seasoning of choice.


  • Warm up the cast iron pan on medium heat and put the olive oil in the pan.
  • Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. This will prevent splattering when salmon is placed in the pan.
  • Gently place salmon in the cast iron pan and shake your seasoning on top.
  • Set timer for 4 minutes. Look for HALF of the salmon to turn a light pink.
  • Flip salmon over after the 4 minutes and let cook for another 2 minutes.
  • After 2 – 3 minutes, removed salmon from the pan. Turn off the stove.


The calories are based on the salmon and the olive oil. This goes great with mashed sweet potatoes. Simply bake the sweet potato at 350 degrees for about 50 – 60 minutes. When they are soft, take them out and peel the skin off. Place in the bowl and mix them with butter. Add a pinch of salt and dive in!

Click for price check

Why Cast Iron?

A cast-iron pan really does make a difference, plus it’s SUPER easy to clean, no soap required. Seriously, no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan if you use soap. I highly recommend getting one, even if it’s the small one. I use a cast iron for everything! You can find them on Amazon.

Wrapping it up

The wild-caught salmon is preferred over farm-raised. It’s just best to eat “organic” fish versus ones that are raised in a fish tank. Would you rather eat a fish from a large body of water or one from a small fish tank? Think about that for a minute.

Whether you want a different protein, want to balance out the weekly menu, or if you’re looking to get healthier, salmon is here to serve you. You can also check out my pan-fried walleye recipe. Enjoy!

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Simple Game Day Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Simple Game Day Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Game day sloppy joe sandwiches at your service. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or table tennis, this is by far my favorite sloppy joe recipe. Not only is it super easy, but it has simple ingredients. It’s perfect after a long day at the field, and it’s excellent for watching the big game. Having a party? These sandwiches are a great dish to serve to guests! Try them in slider buns. Full of flavor and super easy to make.

Jump to Recipe

Come NCAA Final Four Basketball, this recipe will be sitting in my Crockpot. So what’s in it? First of all, let me tell you what’s not in it. My sloppy joe recipe doesn’t have any high allergen ingredients, that’s right, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, grain-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free.

My choice of protein is venison, but if you’re not a fan, go for beef. I haven’t tried it with turkey (because I am allergic to turkey) or chicken, but I think it would work minus the ketchup. You’ll have to experiment if you want to go the fowl route.

What’s so good about venison?

Venison is open-range, free-range, organic, plant-fed protein. Venison is lean, there is hardly any fat, and it’s low in calories. It’s full of iron, B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin…essentially many B vitamins. Which are super important for your body and brain to function properly.  

does a body good

Oh, if you didn’t know, venison is deer meat. Yes, yes, a “Bambi”, but not all deer are “Bambi’s”. In some parts of the country, the deer have destroyed habitats for other animals by eating foliage from the ground up. It’s a problem! Not to mention farmers’ crops and our simple home gardens.


For this recipe, you can substitute ground beef, which is very good. But! Be sure to get the lean ground beef, like 90/10. Plus, you’ll have to fork-over some coins for the organic grass-fed kind. You pick, this recipe isn’t picky.

Perfect sides for sloppy joe

As for sides, I personally like a little crunch. My favorite side is low-salt potato chips. I also like something green on my plate, like steamed broccoli, green beans, coleslaw, or a fresh spinach salad. Adding a slice of cheese to your sloppy joe makes it more of the meal, but I’ve also had sloppy joe on its own, no bun included. When I do this, I combine my joe with roasted butternut squash! So yummy.

Sloppy Joes

Simple Game Day Sloppy Joe’s

This recipe is passed down from my dad. He is a rock star at making this. And it's so delicious! Please note, my dad can only make pancakes, so if you can do that, you can do this recipe!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq, burger, easy meal, sandwiches, Sloppy joe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 645kcal
Cost $15.00


  • Frying pan
  • Crockpot


  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs Lean burger or vension
  • 1 large Sweet onion chopped About 2 – 3 cups worth
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar I usually only put 2 tablespoons in.
  • 2 cups Catsup I like the Simple kind without High Fructose Corn Syrup.
  • 2 tbsp Mustard
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce Use your favorite. I personally like the kind that doesn't have High Fructose Corn Sysrup.
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar


  • Warm the frying pan and put the olive oil in the pan
  • Immediately put in the ground beef or venison and brown it.
  • Add the onion at the same time…I know it's weird, but that's how my dad does it.
  • Drain any excess fat and grease.
  • Add to the crock pot
  • Add the water and the vinegar
  • Add the ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, and sugar
  • Mix together
  • Cover and set to high for 2-3 hours
  • Stir occassionaly
  • Add bun and eat!
    sloppy joes


When the sloppy joe is done, you can eat it alone or with a bun of your choice! I personally like to add cheese…in my case, it’s fake cheese.Delish!
The calorie, cost, and servings are all an educated guess. 

Pull up a chair and let your Crockpot do all the cooking. This is a slam dunk, touchdown, and homerun of a game-day meal! Your kids will love it. Be sure to check out my other recipes!

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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