In browsing through files in my garage a few days ago I came across items I’d stored on shelves there – things I’ve meant to go through, some of which I hadn’t yet perused. One of those items is this note I received from prominent Rhinebeck matriarch Peggy Howe, which she’d given to me at my 85th birthday celebration. The party was held at Andre Balazs’s The Locusts in Staatsburg:

“Dear Joy

What a wonderful impact you have made in this world! I doubt you have any idea of the extent of it.  Your books have impacted thousands – Rhinebeck has been enriched by your being here. But, to us, your greatest success has been your children. How enormously proud you must be of each and every one of them. Your greatest achievment has been as a mother.

Happy Birthday, Joy

Peggy Howe ”

A very belated thank you, Peggy, for your kind words !


Here are photos of a couple of those children of mine, with a couple of grandchildren, too!






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I was different from others in my age group. Though I went through the motions of being a part of school and its activities and later, my work, I felt isolated. Because I had psoriasis, an incurable skin condition, I had become a vegan and a sun worshipper, which was the only way I could keep my skin clear. Through ads in an offbeat national health publication – a monthly magazine my mother subscribed to, “The Hygienic Review” – I discovered another off-beat publication, “The American Vegetarian” through which I learned about a vegetarian commune in Florida that was looking for young people to do office work and other jobs. I was excited at the thought of being in a sunny place year round, as sun is a temporary boon for psoriasis. I quit my job as a telephone operator in Asheville, North Carolina and bought a train ticket to Sebring, Florida. The name of the place I was headed for was Lorida, a few miles south of and off the beaten path of Sebring.



I arrived at an isolated small community that was owned and operated by a strangely interesting man, Walter Seigmeister, who had a doctorate in Philosophy from New York University. His brother, Ellie Seigmeister, I learned by noticing phonograph records stashed in his office, had been the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

We were half a dozen workers. Our job was helping Dr. Seigmeister ,who we called Siggie, run his mail order business, which was selling subscriptions to his newsletter touting what he called the New Age Philosophy. He called it Biosophy. We lived in rustic cabins, bathed in nearby Lake Istapoga and ate the produce from the large organic garden and the carefully cultivated papaya and orange trees. One of the inhabitants was a suntanned, bearded, well muscled young man, an artist, whose name was Louis Jacaruso. He expounded for hours on philosophy with other members of the group and ate a dozen oranges for breakfast every morning.

“Wow!” I thought. “A man who eats like I do!”

A few months later we were married.

Ten years and three children later I realized that it takes more than eating oranges together for breakfast to make a marriage work.

Toward the end of my marriage to Louis while we were living in St. Louis, Missouri, “The American Vegetarian” – a national independent monthly paper, ran a front page story with photographs of me and my vegetarian family. It included our three children, Louie, David and Betsy. I began getting mail from all over the country, including members of the local St. Louis, Missouri branch of an organization called The American Natural Hygiene Society. (Today it is The National Health Association headquartered in Tampa, Florida). I became active in the group. In 1955 I attended my first national convention which was held in Washington, D.C. at the Shoreham Hotel. I was elected as the national secretary-treasurer.



Back home, I set up an office in my five year old daughter Betsy’s bedroom which was handily adjacent to the kitchen. I spent hours and days revising lists, organizing and sending out communications to members and those who’d let their memberships lapse. I took over publication of the theretofore erratically published official newsletter, which evolved into a sophisticated little bi-monthly magazine. The membership grew. I became known as the Solid Gold Cadillac Girl of the movement. Among new members were C.E. Doolin, founder of the Frito-Lay Company in San Antonio, Texas, and U. Thant, the first Secretary General of the United Nations, who commended me for my work.

The summer of 1958 the annual ANHS Convention was held in St. Louis. I and a fellow member were convention chairpeople. Among the three hundred attendees was one black man, an actor, from New York. His name was Robert Earl Jones. Management told us he wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the hotel. We told management that if Robert Earl went we would all go – all 300 of us. Robert Earl stayed. A few years later he introduced me to his son, James Earl Jones. Robert Earl and I remained friends throughout his life.

A year after my divorce from Louis, two days after Christmas of 1958, I got married to Dr. Robert Gross, a physiologist from New York, who was active in the group and was planning a new career: a Health Retreat. I had been divorced for over a year. Bob knew that I was a perfect asset for his new plan.

It worked.



In the spring of 1959 we pooled our resources: two used cars, my three children and his one, a few thousand dollars between us, and headed for Hyde Park, New York where we leased with an option to buy, an historic Georgian mansion sitting atop a hill overlooking the majestic Hudson River. With our children we moved into the third floor which had been servants’ quarters in bygone years. We renamed the mansion, dubbing it Pawling Health Manor from its original Pawling Manor. Our first ads were placed in the classified section of the New York Times. On Memorial Day 1959 we opened the doors of Pawling Health Manor, filled to capacity from the first day. Minimum stay was one full week. Since I was occupied not only with caring for the children, managing the help, painting walls, hanging curtains, shopping and running the kitchen, I was forced to relinquish my role as secretary treasurer of the ANHS. Many of my and Bob’s followers became our paying guests at the Manor.

Through my 30 years of hard work and often pain at Pawling Manor, I was privileged to share my experiences and growing knowledge with the thousands of guests who came to spend time with us. While Bob and I ultimately didn’t make it in our marriage, we were crucial to each other in many ways. I learned infinitely more about the basic principles of physiology from him. Our two daughters, Debbie – for years now a news anchor at WCBS news radio in New York – and Wendy, a former psychotherapist, presently Senior Managing Director of the prestigious

Town Residential Real Estate in New York City and chosen a few years ago by the New York Post as one of New York City’s 50 Most Powerful Women — have apparently absorbed some of the better qualities of us both. Daughter

Betsy Jacaruso is now a well known artist.

Through the years I’ve stayed with my way of eating and living. Though not perfect, I’ve adhered to a plant based diet and the basic principles of the Hygienic way. In the early eighties I wrote “The 30 Day Way to a Born Again Body” – a major hardcover publication, which then went into mass market paperback followed by quality paperback as “Thin Again – Improved Fitness in 30 Days”. “The Vegetarian Child” was published a couple of years later, re-released under the title “Feeding Your Family Naturally”. I did major cross country publicity tours which brought many more guests to Pawling Health Manor.



Our guests were from all walks of life; all were ecstatic with their results.   Among first guests were Grace Bumbry, Veronica Lake, Cicely Tyson, George Steinbrenner, Jerry Stiller, Kate Mostel and Virginia Guilford, and later on Lois Gould, Elaine Kaufman, Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, Judith Rossner, Shelly Winters, Rita Jenrette, Jessica Tandy and Alvin Ailey. Mary Alice Bayh, an actress, discovered us while acting at the Hyde Park Playhouse. Her brother Birch (Buddy to her) Bayh later became governor of Indiana. She spent so much time with us she was like one of the family. While there she became friends with another of our guests, Patty Sauer whose father played the lead in the T V series Rin Tin Tin. Patty was an accomplished actress/singer whose weight was preventing her from getting roles she wanted. After five weeks her father came to visit her. When he saw her, looking so much thinner, he wept. Later she landed a stint as back-up as Dolly in Hello Dolly on Broadway. Once when I drove her to New York to pick up some things, I went in to her apartment with her. “This is my roommates’ dressing table” she explained. “She’s always fighting with her mother. She’s going to be successful – she’s very talented.” That roommate was Barbara Streisand.

Veronica Lake came with her friend Nat Perlow, editor of the Police Gazatte, who was there to interview Dr. Gross. Vickie, as Nat called her, was a smoker. No smoking was permitted. So, every evening the two of them hightailed it in to the quaint nearby village of Rhinebeck and ate at the bar at Foster’s Coach House Tavern. Though she was on crutches due to a leg injury and her hair was pulled back snugly into a ponytail, she was recognized as she lit up and downed her vodkas.

Glynis Johns, who played the first “Peter Pan” on stage in London, came for what she’d planned might be a few days’ stay. She was overweight, loaded with various medications, was grumpy and hard to please. I spent lots of one on one time with her, encouraging her and listening to the many stories of her earlier life. This was what she wrote in the note she handed me as she climbed into the limosine that would take her- 40 pounds lighter than when she arrived – to JFK and her flight back to Los Angeles:

“Dearest Joy . . . . My heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation for your loving care – way beyond the course of duty. You can be sure I’ll return. With love, Glyn”

Comments like this were the norm from departing guests.



Looking back to those early years that were painful because of my psoriasis, and the desperation that led me into the new and different way of eating and being, I am grateful that I was able to turn most of my lemons into lemonade.

Many people eat and live in a way that ages them faster and sends them to their graves sooner than is necessary. Through our work and my books, Bob and I were able to share gems of health wisdom that enabled thousands of people to take charge of their weight and health. We were privileged to share important information about cells and what they need to survive and thrive; and to help our guests to understand more about the PH of the bloodstream and how vital that is to health and longevity.

I’ve shared many of my recipes and meal plans in my book:
(available from Amazon).


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IMG_1872Somewhere along the way throughout my 70 plus years’ connection to learning about and practicing what for many years was called Natural Hygiene – now Health Science – I’d stumble upon the name Dean Ornish – possibly in articles or references in Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review, or other health oriented publications. I’d become familiar with the name: “Dean Ornish M.D ”.  Drs Shelton, Esser, Gross, Burton, Sidhwa, Burton and other non-traditional practitioners were not embraced in traditional medical circles, nor was Dr. Ornish in those earlier years. Imagine my delight a month or so ago, upon seeing a prominent feature article in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times for May 3rd 2015, bearing the bold headline “The Myth of High Protein Diets” by none other than Dean Ornish M.D.

In that article Dr. Ornish proclaimed that bacon and eggs are not health foods and that – although people have been told for decades to eat less meat and fat, they now actually consumed 67% more added fat, 39% more sugar and 41% more meat in 2000 than they had in 1950 and almost 25%more calories than in 1970.   – Hmmnn – we’re fatter and unhealthier! He went on to say that yes, we are fatter and unhealthier, and that the debate is not as simple as low-fat versus low-carb. He pointed out that research shows that animal protein is high in a tumor-forming sugar that’s linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer. That animal protein significantly increases the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. He further  points out that eating heavily of saturated and transfats doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (which is significantly on the rise these days!)  and that a new study shows there’s been a 75% increase in deaths from all causes, and a 400 percent increase in deaths from cancer and type 2 diabetes among heavy consumers of animal protein – ie, eggs and meat. Which is an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. That it also increases chronic inflammation with an increased risk of  cancer.  Dr.Ornish and his colleagues – including Dr. Kim A. Williams, president of the American College of Cardiology, are finding that diet and lifestyle changes can reduce the need for a lifetime of medications – and transform people’s lives.

What’s good for you, Dr. Ornish goes on to say, is good for the planet. Livestock production causes more disruption of the climate than all forms of transportation combined. And because it takes as much as 10 times more grain to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, eating a plant based diet could free up resources for the hungry.

Bottom line: you don’t have to eat meat, eggs, milk or cheese to get your protein. Get it from greens, nuts and seeds. What you gain is so much more than what you give up. And, closing thought from me: The original source of ALL protein is GREENS! We humans are descendants of tree animals – orangutans, monkeys and apes, who lived in the tropical trees and dined on green leaves, berries and fruits. Petra Fromme, a professor of chemistry at Arizona State University, says that “All food comes from photosynthesis.  There would be no higher life on Earth without it. Green is the color of life!”


Click here to order my latest book JOY’S RECIPES FOR LIVING YOUNGER LONGER.

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I’m 87 years old. I’ve been a plant based eater, total vegetarian, mostly vegan for 75 of those years. In my very early years, mother served my younger brother and me very little meat – mostly chicken or fish and occasional birds shot by my dad from his occasional hunting forays. On my ninth birthday, for my official birthday dinner, with my 3rd grade teacher, Miss Leatherwood, and best friend Betsy Siler, invited, dinner was served in the dining room on our special china. I helped plan the menu. From my reading – which always included recipe books – STEAK was the most prestigious food ever. That’s what we had! The salad was fruit salad, composed of canned pineapple chunks, halved white grapes and a few blueberries bathed in a tasty dressing made with mayonaise, lemon juice and honey, served on a lettuce leaf. The birthday cake was my very favorite: Angel Food With pink icing! And vanilla ice cream.

Ahh! So long ago and far away! A few months after that, when my psoriasis began to kick in, that same 3rd grade teacher, Miss Leatherwood, caught me – in class – scratching my scalp. I was humiliated as she stood over me, parting my hair, peering underneath, and proclaiming – out loud – “EEW! you’ve got bread and jelly in your hair. Go home and tell your mother!”  I fled the classroom in tears. A few days later a neighbor – who had a car – drove mother and me to Asheville for an appointment with a skin specialist, who had an appropriate name: Dr. Whitehead.

“There’s no known cause, no known cure. You’ll have to learn to live with it!” he pronounced. “Use some baby oil.”


It’s been a long time from then til now. Having psoriasis changed my life. I would do anything to try to make it go away. And alas! it’s inheritable. Two of my daughters, my oldest son and a grandson have it. The daughters, not as bad as the son, who became a lifetime vegan, which has been a boon for him. The good news is that we have improved our overall health and wellbeing because of our dedication to eating and living as we do. It’s also promoted me into keeping abreast of what’s happening in the meat eating world.

Concern for the welfare of animals – especially  those the majority of humanity kill and eat – is part of my dedication to staying away from milk,eggs, cream and cheese. There’s always a price to be paid. A dreadful price for the cows,chickens, turkeys, pigs and other animals used for food, to pay.


Nicholas Kristoff, in his most recent editorial on the op ed page of the New York Times, “TO KILL A CHICKEN” hits the nail on the head:

“If you torture a single chicken and are caught, you’re likely to be arrested. If you scald thousands of chickens alive, you’re an industrialist who will be lauded for your acumen.”

That was his conclusion after reviewing video footage taken by an undercover investigator for Mercy For Animals, an animal rights group. The investigator said he worked for two months in a North Carolina poultry slaughterhouse and routinely saw chickens have their legs or wings broken – sometimes repeatedly – or worse, scalded to death. He said seeing it happen made him sick to his stomach. He went on to explain that humane slaughter rules apply to cattle, hogs and sheep, but not to chickens, even though birds (winged creatures) amount to 95% of farm animals killed each year in America.

“I think that most Americans would be shocked that 95% of farm animals aren’t protected by the few laws we have,” he said. “What’s striking” he went on to say, “is the speed of the assembly line, leading workers to fall behind in ways that inflict agony on the chickens. Workers grab the birds and shove their legs upside down into metal shackles on a conveyer belt. The chickens are then carried upside down to an electric bath that is meant to knock them unconscious, then carries them – at a pace of more than two chickens a second – to a circular saw that cuts open their necks so that they bleed to death before they are scalded in hot water and their feathers plucked. When it doesn’t work correctly the birds’ end can be horrifying. Some chickens aren’t completely knocked out by the electric current and can be seen struggling frantically. A backup worker is supposed to cut the throat of those missed by the saw, but any that get by him are scalded alive.” Kristoff concludes by saying “Most American consumers are, like me, conflicted. We eat meat, but we don’t want animals to suffer needlessly.”

I commend Nicholas Kristoff for having the chutzpa to editorialize on this subject. I have long been a follower of his, and highly commend the New York Times for having him as a contributor to their op-ed pages. Additional kudos to the Times for a fantastic op-ed on their March 23, 2015 editorial page: “The Myth of High-Protein Diets” by Dean Ornish. A major breakthrough for the Times!

My next blog will be devoted to the Ornish article.

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From the beginning of my memory, I was indoctrinated by what I was taught – by my mother and father, followed by my schoolteachers. My first 12 years were spent in the rural south. I was born in Winchester, Kentucky, on January 22nd 1928, in a brand new Presbyterian clinic, delivered by a medical home missionary physician.  I was the first baby born in the clinic. My earliest memories began after my mom, dad and I had moved to a small town in the great Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina. Most of those memories are focused on events and people in that little town.

There were no black people in Hazelwood. No Chinese, no Mexicans, no Jews. Just Whites. There wasn’t a Catholic church, or a Synagogue. Just Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist. The first blacks I ever saw were men – riding through town on a chain gang truck, six on each side, all wearing black and white striped uniforms, their legs bound tightly to the floor by heavy chains. Watching the chain gang truck go by was a major event for the kids of the neighborhood. We waved, and they waved back. I felt sorry for them. There was a ditty mothers recited to their toddlers, which my mother recited to me: “Eeny Meeny Miney Moe – catch a nigger by the toe. If he hollers let him go, eeny miney moe. I cringe to remember! A prayer I was taught frightened me.


“Now I lay me down to sleep * I pray the Lord my soul to keep * If I should die before I wake * I pray the Lord my soul to take”.

I was afraid to go to sleep. I saw ghosts in the ceiling. There was no sympathy from my parents. I was taught to do unto others as I’d like to be done unto. A bible verse that sticks in my mind is it is more blessed to give than to receive.

I helped care for my younger brother and sister. I did my share of household chores. I learned how to cook and sew, how to make a perfect bed. I did my homework and taught a Sunday School class as I got older. I gave it my best.  Because I had psoriasis I became a vegetarian, which helped to keep my skin clear.


When I was 17 I was living with my family in Montreat, North Carolina, a Presbyterian Conference Center nestled snugly and privately in a beautiful corner high in a corner of the Great Smoky Mountains, 35 miles from Asheville. A son of another minister, John Neville, whose dad was what was dubbed a home missionary , liked me. We enjoyed square dancing and hanging out on summer evenings with other young people who either lived, or were vacationing there. One evening a group of us rode into the nearby town of Black Mountain where we stopped at a fast food place for refreshments. They ordered hot dogs and cokes. There was nothing on the menu that I would eat.  I ordered apple juice. John blurted out, “What ‘ur you – one of them thar VEG- E – TARIANS? They all laughed. I felt humiliated. From then on, in my dietary evolution, I tried to hide the fact that I was a vegetarian. In those years NO ONE was a vegetarian! And no one knew what psoriasis was, either!

It was having children that prompted me to “come out” with my vegetarian way of eating. They – and I – together learned how to “rise above” the often unkind and humiliating comments of others.


In the late 1980’s the writer John Updike – who I strongly identify with – wrote an article for The New Yorker magazine titled  AT WAR WITH MY SKIN. I totally identified with his every word, every phrase. He, like I, had lived and struggled with this inherited skin disease which he described as “another presence occupying your body and singling you out from the herds of healthy, normal mankind.” He discovered, as I did, that sun, that living god, had real power over psoriasis. He spent a good part of his life chasing that sun. He wasn’t as lucky as I, to learn that an alkalizing diet could also be a powerful ally. In his ignorance he smoked, drank and ate all the conventional goodies. He was sporadically hospitalized for treatment – a temporary aid. Ultimately he was put on methotrexate, a powerful drug which ultimately does permanent damage to kidneys and liver – a more serious side effect than the disease itself. The methotrexate fix did allow him to be the prolific writer that he became. As a writer and a very special human being, he is an inspiration. He died of lung cancer in a hospice in Pennsylvania at the age of 76.


Though I haven’t had nightmares for over 80 years, it has often been difficult for me to be as good to myself as to others. Repressing my own feelings and emotions was the cost of being acceptable to my parents and often, to others. Finally, in my early fifties, with some prodding from Collette Dowling, a writer friend of mine who was working with me on my first published book, I began what was to become a dozen years, in psychotherapy. A turning point in that process happened during one of those sessions. I was describing to my therapist a scene from the past about how I’d learned to control my psoriasis by staying on a fresh fruit and veggie diet. Since my mother had been highly organized to the point of planning menus a week in advance, all the food she’d bought for the week was accounted for. If two bananas were missing she’d know it, and find out who done it.  I’d steal what I could anyway, then act innocent to escape trial. It wasn’t til I was 56 years old that I began to connect incidents like that to my search for self when, during a session, my therapist said to me:

“How would you have felt, Joy, if your mother had offered you a big bunch of bananas and said:

“Here. These are for you.”

It brought tears to my eyes.

From that I realized that when you are in touch with your feelings, the recognition of yourself is an emotion so intense it is both joyful and painful. I’d hovered for years between the two selves. This was the beginning of the healing process, of the realization that it’s important to be good to yourself as well as to others.

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Anne Dinshah is the daughter of Jay and Freya Dinshah, colleagues and friends of mine from way back. Anne has written a beautiful new book, Powerful Vegan Messages which is now available on Amazon.

I first met Jay Dinshah, Anne’s father, at a conference of the American Natural Hygiene Society (now the American Health Association) of which I was a member of the Board of Directors. The location was Los Angeles, California, the year was 1958. After the four day conference, I and a few others were invited to a social gathering at the home of a couple who were vegan. In those years veganism was not popular as it is these days. Jay was one of the invitees. It was there that Jay and I began our discussions on the subject, along with others at the gathering.

Although most of us followed the ideas of eating predominantly uncooked foods and incorporating the principles of proper food combining into our menus, most of us included dairy products in our eating plans. Jay pushed toward getting more emphasis on the vegan, ethical side into the movement and instigated discussion about the ethics behind our food choices. He was one of the first of our group who was into that aspect of things. He went on to became a big presence at board meetings and conferences of the American Natural Hygiene Society.

I was the National Secretary/Treasurer of the ANHS from 1955 until 1959, and board member/speaker into the 80’s. My food demos were highlights of the yearly conferences; I was known as the ‘Solid Gold Cadilac Girl ” of the movement.

Jay was always part of our discussions and decisions about the Society as we grew. He was very passionate about educating our followers, and served as Expansion Director, Executive Director and Press Director at various times.


When I was six years old my mother latched onto this system of health care that included vegetarianism, fasting, food combining and exercise. According to her new gurus – William Howard Hay, Arnold Ehret, Herbert Shelton and Bernaar MacFadden among them – it was the way to keep fit and well and not need doctors. I ran the other way, toward as many chocolates, butterfingers and cokes as I could sneak in. When I was nine I blossomed forth with psoriasis, a wicked skin disease. The physician said there was no known cause and no known cure. My scalp was covered with flaky lesions that itched and bled. Ultimately, in desperation, I tried mother’s way of eating , sunning and exercise. Gradually my skin cleared up. When I veered off track and went on an occasional cheese or ice cream binge, the lesions would pop back out.


Although I’d researched and known the basic principles of Natural Hygiene and veganism since I was a teen, it wasn’t easy giving up the junk food and being different. I kept myself inspired by the wisdom I read in Herbert Shelton’s books and writings, as well as others. In later years it was Jay’s influence that helped push me more consistently toward the ethical, vegan aspect of this new approach to better skin and a better life. Reverence for life has always been part of my thinking and living. Though it was part of my philosophy and throughout the years I’ve been mostly vegan, I gave in here and there – especially when my children were trying to hide their wholewheat sandwiches and strange fruits under their desks at school. We were way, way ahead of the times. Though my my oldest son, now 65, is a lifetime vegan.

For more on the subject check my blog As You Sow, So Shall You Reap. You will also find some fabulous photos of my vegan “dishes” on my Instagram, access on twitter.

And do keep in mind that eating animals always comes back to hurt you – and the planet!

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FAT: The Greatest Problem




These are recent headlines pertaining  to the national obesity situation that exists in America today. Back in 1959 when my husband Bob Gross  and I opened our Pawling Health Manor in Rhinebeck, New York, the national average for obesity was 37%. I vividly remember Bob’s dramatic opening words to a packed audience in Manhattan during our first summer in our newly purchased mansion overlooking the Hudson River: ” THE GREATEST PROBLEM IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY IS FAT! Followed by audible gasps from the hushed audience. Imagine if that were today, when the national obesity average has almost doubled from that number!


A recent letter from a 35-years-ago Pawling Manor client, Jackie Meyers Smith, confirms the success of our regimen and the years we spent in helping combat the nation’s fat – and health – problem.  Here is an exerpt from Jackie’s letter:

Dear Joy,

Many years ago, when I was 19, you and I met at the Pawling Health Manor. It was 1981, when I realized that my life had no real connection and that change was eminent or I’d be heading toward my demise. I wasn’t sure how to make a positive change. My excess drinking and eating had been out of control since the age of 15. I used drugs, smoked and drank alcohol almost daily. By chance, I heard about your Health Manor. Confused, and with nowhere to turn, I did turn myself in to your establishment. I felt like I was doing something positive for myself, mentally and physically.

Dr. Gross checked my pulse in the wee hours of the morning; I always thought he was making sure we were all still alive!  I relished my fresh squeezed orange juice after the fast and looked forward to the evening meal: baked potato and a large freshly tossed salad. How delicious it was! I read and rested in a beautiful, comfortable space while gathering plans for my future.

While I had many friends and an active social life, was active and worked in the restaurant business in New York City while attending classes at the School of Visual Arts, each time I cleaned up my act I’d relapsed back into my habits of drinking and partying into the night.  Then, my paternal grandmother became my mentor. She treated me to my first message, and gave me a little book called Natural Hygienics Made Easy which became an inspiration to me.I returned to the Manor four or five subsequent times, to help myself with  my tendency to binge. It was always a great reprieve. I took time to read, journal and meditate. I read your books and others as tools for healing.

Almost fifteen years ago I was invited to go with my sister to the Omega Institute (near Rhinebeck). Since then I’ve become a massage therapist. I’ve worked at the Institute for the past three years, doing body and energy work.


One day last year my sister and I happened into your daughter Betsy’s art studio in the Courtyard in Rhinebeck. She said you’d be happy to hear about my memories of you and the Manor. We drove to the former site of the Manor, now the Belvedere Inn. It was a poignant visit, as I remembered my troubled past. Driving away, I felt a surge of love and gratitude as I realized how lucky I am to have found you and Dr. Gross.

As you can see, your life work made a very positive impression on me – and, I’m sure – on thousands of other fortunate people!

Many thanks,

Jackie Meyers Smith

Survivor – artist – mother – writer – and more.

P.S. My daughter and I just watched your  YouTube videos. You look as vibrant and beautiful as ever. Thank you for telling your story; congratulations on the latest book.


(click HERE to order the book)

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Exercise for Health and Longevity

Regular exercise helps your heart, lowers your blood pressure and serum triglycerides and brings about a better ratio of high-density to low-density lipoproteins. It increases coronary circulation and promotes weight loss. All these things promote longevity.


There are four kinds of exercise:

* Isotonics and isometrics, which involve muscles. Isotonics exercise your body through movement, as in calisthenics and weight lifting.

Isometrics involve no movement of your joints, only your muscles. You can do valuable isometric exercise standing still, simply by contracting and releasing a set of muscles, such as your pectorals.

* Anaerobics and Aerobics, which bring oxygen to your body and exercise your heart and lungs by causing you to breathe deeply. Anaerobics do this on a short term basis. Walking, running, or bicycling for brief distances provide anaerobic exercise. Aerobics do this on a short term basis. Walking, running, or bicycling for brief distances provide anaerobic exercise. Aerobics cause you to breathe deeply over a sustained period of time.  This includes running, jogging, swimming, tennis and handball. It affects your entire system. Of the four kinds of exercise, only aerobics affect your entire system.

This kind of exercise is important for three reasons:

* It brings oxygen to all your body’s cells

* It combines with glucose to provide greater energy

* It helps to alkalinize your system.

It’s essential to have plentiful oxygen, no matter what your age, if you’re going to look and feel terrific. A sluggish, sedentary life leads to early aging. So, to keep yourself vital, keep moving! Run – jump rope – play tennis – swim – dance. Start now, no matter what your age. My aunt Ruth did fast walking every day for many years, which helped her to stay healthy and well until the age of 93 – vital til the end!


I start each day with isometric exercises. Here’s a sampling of some of them:

* I stand with my legs straight, feet flat, about two feet from the object I’m facing  –  hands flat against a wall, or gripping the edge of or against a wall – or  the edge of my bathroom vanity, or bedroom dresser. I lean forward, legs and body straight, one leg at a time, until I feel the stretching in my lower legs and calves. I do repetitions of this, at least a dozen times.

I clasp the fingers of both hands together in front of my chest and push and pull – tense and let go, tense and let go – feeling the muscles in my upper arms until they hurt but feel good at the same time. I can feel the stretch across the back of my shoulders. I do repetitions of this at least a dozen times.

* With my feet together, knees straight, I stretch til my hands are flat on the floor in front of me. After several vigorous stretches, I move my feet wider apart and first one side, then the other, stretch, stretch, stretch, til it hurts. It’s a good hurt!

Through out the session, I continue to do deep breathing. In, deep, through the nostrils, pushing slowly out through the mouth, forcing it through pursed lips. I do this one at odd times throughout the day: while driving, walking, or at the computer.


Kentucky Reunion, Hector Rodriguez visits, etc. 108A friend of mine, Anna Mae Swenson, and I went to dinner a few years ago at one of my favorite restaurants in Rhinebeck, Le Petit Bistro. Anna Mae was then 101 years young. She’d been driving her own car til the year before, when her eyesight became a problem, prompting her to move from her lovely condo into a retirement home – which looks and feels like a five star hotel, with its swimming pool, her own outdoor plant-filled deck, and other attractive surroundings. In her cheerful bedroom sits her bicycle machine.

“A nephew gave it to me for my 80th birthday!” she told me. “It has an odometer. In another two months I will have accumulated enough mileage to have biked around the world three times!” she exclaimed.


Anna Mae has had two happy marriages and a career which started her off as a singer. She’s proud of the fact that when she was 22 years old, she was invited to sing at St. James Church in Hyde Park, where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were members. On this occasion the Roosevelts were there, accompanied by the King and Queen of England, as well as the Astors, the Canadian Prime Minister, and the Ambassador of England.

Anna Mae had – and still has – a fabulous life.  She attributes that to her obviously healthy diathesis (genetic predisposition) her physically active lifestyle, and a positive mental attitude. “Attitude’s  half the battle,” she says. “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you accept it. And, “Self pity is a waste of time. No matter how bad things are there’s always somebody who’s worse off.” Her proudest achievement is the mileage on her bicycle machine.  Now, six years later, though she doesn’t drive anymore, she continues to enjoy an active lifestyle and is still an enthusiastic participant in her bridge group.


A short drive from where I live is beautiful BURGER HILL PARK. From its 550 foot high peak there’s a panoramic view of the Hudson River Valley, the Catskill mountains to the west, and the Berkshires to the right. Hiking to the top gets you breathing deeply. What a wonderful aerobic exercise! What a reward at the end of the hike!


If purposeful exercise isn’t your thing, you might consider joining a gym, or a yoga class. Most towns and all large cities have them. Sign up! Get going! If Anna Mae did it, you can too. You’ll feel better, look better and live younger longer!

Click here to order my latest book JOY’S RECIPES FOR LIVING YOUNGER LONGER.

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Sixty eight years ago I “ran away” from Asheville, North Carolina, my job as a $30 a week telephone operator and  a $10 a week rented room, to go to Chicago. I’d quit school at Montreat College in Montreat, N.C.(a religious retreat) because mother had told me she couldn’t buy the quantity of fresh fruit I required for my way of eating, and pay my tuition as well. I had psoriasis, a genetic skin disease, which I was able to keep in remission on this regimen. Simple choice. After I paid my $10 a week room rent, I bought my own fruit. Bargain bananas from street vendors were often a godsend! When I ran out of money, I fasted.

One late afternoon in the summer of ’46 I stepped off the Greyhound bus in Chicago with slightly over $15 in my purse. My plan was to enroll in the Chicago Art Institute to study art. I had no job or a place to stay; my plan  included getting a room at the YMCA. By the time I located the Y it was 10 p.m. “Sorry, there are no vacancies!” the desk clerk announced.

SEGUE: Thirty-eight years later
This grey morning, April 27th 1984, I’m gliding around the Gold Coast in a Carey limosine, headed south toward highway 190, 194 and Hammond, Indiana.  In September of 1946 that greyhound bus had brought me over this very highway to, I’d hoped, the fulfillment of my dreams. Early on this morning I awoke to a wake-up call in a comfy bed in my room on the 26th floor of the Westin Hotel. I turned the TV to Channel WFTV, using the handy remote control switch.  For 15 minutes I watched myself being interviewed by two hosts of the early news show. “FASTING TO FEEL BETTER and LOOK BETTER” had been taped the day before. Suzanne and Linna, show hosts, seemed excited about the subject. “But what can I do about my craving for chocolate cake after I break my fast?”  Linna asked. “We refer to that as the “call of the wild -” I replied.  We all laughed. “Fasting helps you overcome those cravings, those addictions. It cleanses your taste buds. It helps you appreciate the beautiful flavors of simple foods.  Come, let me show you the best foods to eat – how to prepare and serve simple, healthy, delicious food to look and feel your best!”  The number to call to attend the seminar, sponsored by the National Health Association in which I was a board member and speaker, to be held at the Continental Hotel in Chicago, flashed onto the screen.

The limo floats along, taking me to a radio interview with Harriet Pinkerton in Hammond, Indiana.  Afterward, at the Westin, I’ll be doing another radio interview. This trip to Chicago was the first stop in a cross country tour promoting my second book, The Vegetarian Child.  I’d had lunch with Gail Steinberg, a bright, shiny young mother of two, producer of the Donahue Show. I’d hoped she could visualize the exciting, exotic food demo I could do for her show.  One of my dreams was to do that show. In Septmber of 1946 that Greyhound bus had brought me over this same highway, into the vast city of Chicago and what I’d hoped was the beginning of the fulfillment of my dreams  – to be an artist. The Cadillac purred on toward Hammond, as my thoughts varoomed ahead of the limousine.

In 1946 – young, naive, a fruitarian recluse, I was grasping toward what was then my dream: to study art at the Chicago Art Institute. Now, here in person, I stood inside its tall, art lined walls, pondering the last $11 that was crunched in my pocket. I left, to search  for Marshall Fields. I landed a job there, in the children’s shoe department.  Finding a room to stay in was an impossibility. That night I made my way back to the bus terminal and hung out with what I later figured were hookers. From them I learned you had to dash into the toilet cubicles to elude the cops. Not much sleep that night! The next day I spent $4 for a local bus ticket to Elgin, Illinois – at that time a suburb of Chicago. I’d been corresponding with  a young man from Elgin who, like me, was a vegetarian. I’d answered his ad in the classifieds of The American Vegetarian – a national newspaper I’d subscribed to. After plunking down $7 to check into the Elgin Hotel (this had to be done properly!) I called my pen pal. He was in his early 20’s and was an architect and a jazz pianist. He insisted, at his parents’ urging, that I leave the hotel and stay in their home. After an enjoyable long weekend I knew I had to make my exit. My new friend took me to a philharmonic concert after which, per my request, he dropped me off – where else -at the Greyhound bus station. I spent the last of my meager finances for a ticket to Layfayette, Indiana. I figured, correctly, that was as far as I could go on  $3.00; I had exactly $3.15 left.

I fell asleep on the long back seat of the almost empty bus. At 1:30 A .M. the bus driver shook me awake. “Get up, lady! This is where you get off! Clutching my small travel bag, I straggled off the bus. The bus station was closed and dark. There I was, on the street in the dark in Layfayette, Indiana at 1:30 A.M. I fingered the one dime and one nickel left in my pocket. A tearful collect phone call to mother, back in Montreat, from the lobby of the hotel I found a few blocks from the station temporarily solved my dilema. I sat dozing in an easy chair in a corner of the brightly lit lobby, til dawn. When the $25 mother wired me arrived at 10 A.M I bought a ticket to Black Mountain, the town nearest to Montreat. Then I bought a bag of fruit from a local fruit stand, and washed and ate it in the ladies room of the hotel.

This April – 1984 – my only dilima is bracing myself against the cold spring wind and blowing rain on State Street as I dash in and out of the hotel. My thoughts wander back to other times and early goals. I’ve had many dreams; some have been fulfilled. I’ve learned that while you need dreams, and destinations to aim for, you may not reach every one. But –  to have those dreams is crucial!

Click here to order my latest book JOY’S RECIPES FOR LIVING YOUNGER LONGER.

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April 2, 2014 · 7:21 pm


The following is a letter I received from one of my Pawling Health Manor clients, MacLean Reynolds. I hope it will inspire you to give the plan a try. It’s a great segue into a healthier way of eating and losing a few pounds.

Mac the Miserable

“I know that, without doing everything I could to have a healthier body, I wouldn’t have been able to overcome the mental and physical deterioration I was experiencing. Yet now, because of what I’ve learned and put into practice – fasting and changing my eating habits – and the inspiration I’ve gotten from you – I’m experiencing the joy of living. It’s great to feel so much better about myself, without pain, without medication. All the aspirin I’d been taking had caused heart palpitations, ringing in my ears and nausea, as well as blurrted vision and drowsiness. I was overweight and wracked with pain from chronic arthritis. Now I can do a grand plie, touch my toes without getting dizzy, and even place the palms of my hands on the floor from a standing position. And I can ditch the nickname – Mac the Miserable – my friends had given me.”

Here’s the magic plan that got MacLean on the road to a healthier life. It can help you make the switch from the acid forming foods which cause your buffer system to overwork, to the healthy, alkaline forming ones. Those acid producing foods give you a “high”. It’s the same thing that keeps smokers smoking and drug addicts drugging. Coming off a high creates a low; it makes you crave a “fix”.  Same thing happens when you come off a diet loaded with junk food. This detox plan will help you to change gears; it’s a great way to transition into a healthier, more alkalinizing diet.


As you transition into this no-eating cleanse, your system mobilizes itself for survival. It’s actually grateful for the opportunity to unload the acidic junk lurking in secret hiding places in your body. It goes into survival mode. Now its primary need is for glucose.  Your brain uses up two-thirds of your body’s total circulating supply; the rest goes to your muscles and red blood cells.  In order to meet this demand when you don’t eat, your liver begins to draw on the fatty tissues in your body to synthesize what it needs. It then breaks down the fat and uses it for fuel.  This back-up fuel is called acetic acid, which breaks down even further into a substance called ketones. This is called ketosis. Your brain and body begin to rely on these ketone bodies (as they’re called) for energy. A good side effect is that it causes you to lose your appetite.


Before you ‘d get to the point of starving you’d have to use up all your stored reserves of fat and glucose, as well as items such as tumors and warts. Only when all stored garbage items are used up will your survival cells start using vital tissues – and that could take up to 30 days or more! As this process takes place the tone of your breath changes as the layers of garbage break down. They’re discharged mostly via your breath, urine and skin. What was stored last, comes out first. How can I ever forget a client whose breath reeked of rotten fish – because of his previous three weeks on a total fish diet. I had to hold my breath until I could make my exit from his room.  I also well remember the fasting breaths of some of our famous clients. (I won’t tell who!) A fine book on this subject is Fasting and Eating For Health by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., It’s handily available on Amazon.


Three or four days is long enough to fast at home unsupervised. If you’re on any kinds of meds, or have  a serious condition such as diabetes, colitis, epilepsy, or if you’re on meds such as tranquilizers, diuretics, dilantin or other prescribed meds, a modified or juice regimen would be best for you.  Check with your physician first.

*Drink either distilled or pure water when you’re thirsty.  Drinking gobs of water doesn’t “flush out” your system.

* You may have a slight headache for a few hours at the beginning of your detox. You may feel a little nauseous. Don’t panic! It’s just what may  happen as the house-cleaning gets started. It’s like kicking a drug habit – only you’re kicking the junk food and stimulant (ie: caffeine/booze) habit. Remember that smoking, drinking, drugs and stimulants like coffee and tea – are out.

* Believe it or not, you’ll lose more weight by not exercising. 

* Saunas/ steam baths are not recommended. Sunbathe in moderation; too much is enervating. No laxatives. Your bowels will get back to business later. It’s best to detox when you don’t have to go to work. If you can’t get a few days off, start on a Friday morning. You’ll have enough glucose to get you through the day. Here’s the plan.


Keeping busy can help you get through the day, with just water when you are thirsty. Think ahead to how pleased you’ll be to lose your first one or two pounds today! ( generally, the more you have to lose, the faster it comes off.)

Tonight you’ll find yourself going to sleep with a comfortable, lighter feeling. Snuggle up and feel proud of yourself. You may sleep more – or less – than usual.


When you get up this morning, step on the scale and notice the two pound weight loss! Your eyes are clear. Your skin looks smoother.  Your digestive system is at rest. This includes your large intestine, where feces normally accumulate. Your bowels may not move during this time. On the other hand, you may have some diarrhea – which means there’s something toxic in there that needs to come out.  It’s o.k.!

Keep warm and quiet today. You may chew on crushed ice, or sip hot water. But no coffee or tea and absolutely no no-cal.


Rest, keep warm, take it easy. Read, listen to music, watch a movie. Avoid the kitchen. If you must prepare food for the family, do so with sealed lips. No tasting.

In the evening, you’re ready to break your fast. Twice before going to bed, have four or five ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice – or, if you prefer, have a couple of whole oranges, or a grapefruit, slice of watermelon or half a cantaloupe or honeydew melon.


Half a cantaloupe or honey dew melon, medium size bunch of grapes, a dozen or so  raw almonds or cashews


Two ripe peaches, bunch of grapes


Bowl of vegetable soup, medium size tossed green salad, several wholewheat crackers


You are now ready to start on your new alkalizing, health promoting Live Younger Longer  eating plan all laid out for you, with full color photographs, in   JOY’S RECIPES FOR LIVING YOUNGER LONGER.
Click Here to order.



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