This week on the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast, Jill Harris answers a listener question about baked potatoes and how they fit into a low oxalate diet like the Kidney Stone Diet.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: Hello, Jeff. I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: So we are back at it again–
Jill Harris: Do you see my T shirt?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I really like that. The limited edition is perfect.
Jill Harris: Yeah, you can tell I’ve been called “weird” a couple times in my life. “She’s just weird.”
Jeff Sarris: Have you ever been to Austin, Texas?
Jill Harris: No, I want to go, though.
Jeff Sarris: So their tagline is “Keep Austin Weird.” So there’s merch in the airport. There’s everything. I really like it there.
Jill Harris: That’s so fun.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I’m sure it’s very different now because that’s where Joe Rogan moved, like lots of Silicon Valley people moved there, so I know lots of money flooded in so the dynamic is probably different. But everytime I was there, I really loved it. We’d go for, like, South by Southwest and different events like that.
Jill Harris: Back in the day, like in the late ’90s, I lived in Albuquerque, and that’s when people were like, “Hey, have you seen what’s going on with Austin?” You know, and I was pretty close to it at that point, but I didn’t have the money, nor the wherewithal–I was in nursing school back then–I didn’t have the time to do it, but I wish I had because, look, it’s just way different now because you have so much more money that’s poured into it. It’s kind of like Nashville, you know, it’s changed so much. But Austin, yeah, I that is on my bucket list. I’d like to go there.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, for sure. And you brought up New Mexico and I don’t know if you’ve seen Dave–so the other component, the third partner I guess in the Kidney Stone Diet. Dave, who’s never on this, but he’s another behind the scenes like my business partner at SPYR, he’s out in New Mexico building and really doing some interesting stuff.
Jill Harris: Yeah. It’s amazing. Yeah, I’m watching his YouTube channel. What is it? Working outside, building outside. Something like that?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, “Life Outside.”
Jill Harris: Life Outside? Yeah. Anyway, it’s pretty amazing.
Jeff Sarris: If you look up “Dave LaTulippe,” if you want to check it out. Maybe we’ll link it. I’ll write it a little note, I’ll link in the description here.
Jill Harris: Yes, it’s pretty amazing what he’s doing. And he’s very artistic, so the way he’s shooting this video–he’s living the Nomad life in Belen, New Mexico. They bought some property, he and his girlfriend, and they’re just, they are really roughing it, man. I mean, it’s pretty friggin’ amazing. I admire them greatly. And if any two people can do it, it’s Lorie and Dave, that’s for sure. Super cool. Yeah. Jeff and I want to do a road trip and go over and visit them.
Jeff Sarris: Oh, yeah, we definitely will. And yeah, we’ll talk about that off-camera. But we were talking after the last show–Amara and I were talking about–maybe the 100th episode some ideas of what we can do here because it’s rapidly approaching, and that’ll be fun. If we do a little something special, but, yeah, we’ll figure that out. We’ll figure that out off the show and see what we can what we can come up with. But yeah, should we dive right into this week’s question?
Jill Harris: Let’s go baby!
Listener Voicemail: Hi, my name is Becky from Michigan. And I was wondering about potato skins, baked potato skins. Everything says, you know, baked potato with the skins is this much. But if I take the skins off, sometimes, I know they have a lot of nutrients. Can I have more without ’em? And are there ways to reduce the oxalate? Can I boil them and then use them? You know, what can I do? Thank you.
Jill Harris: Becky, just have the baked potato! Just have it! First of all, once you take away the skin from a baked potato, it’s just a mashed potato. It’s a boiled ol’ potato. It’s just not that fun. The whole fun for baked potato is the skin. Is it higher in oxalate? Who cares? I mean, again, guys, if you’re not eating a baked potato every single day, you’re not going to make a calcium oxalate kidney stone. You’re just not. So, have a baked potato, skin and all. Don’t boil the hell out of it, so you boil every little nutrient there ever was put in the baked potato. Just enjoy it. Don’t worry about it. If you’re worried about anything, what I would do, I would have half. Split it with your partner. Have half a baked potato. You don’t need to eat the whole thing.
So, sometimes people will be like, “Jill, I really miss having some cookies.” Well, you don’t need to eat the whole sleeve anymore. Can you just have two? Sometimes it’s just about portion. “Jill, I really love pickles.” Don’t have five, just have one. Put it into your budget. So, lots of times it’s always going–and this is where the mantra comes in–portion, not perfection. Sweet potatoes, I certainly eat them. I’m just not eating one as big as my head, and I’m not eating it every day. So, a baked potato with the skin is perfectly acceptable to eat. That is a perfect place to pair your non-dairy or dairy calcium source, so any excess oxalate you do have, you can combine it with the calcium at the time you eat it. So then the oxalate can leave through the stool, and then just go on with their life. I don’t want people boiling the hell out of vegetables. Don’t do that, because it just takes away the fun of the food.
Again, I’m looking for long-term compliance. And in order to get that, I’m going to give, which means I’m going to tell you not to boil the hell out of that potato. And I’m going to tell you don’t take the skin off. That’s all the fun. But, from you, I’m going to say I don’t want you eating it every day or/and I want you to maybe split it. And then that’s how you get less. So it’s not about taking away people’s favorite foods, or boiling the heck out of those favorite foods, so it’s not even a recognizable food anymore. It’s about how much you eat of that food, how many times a week you eat it, and if you’re getting your calcium. That’s the formula.
The Secret to Eating (Almost) Anything You Want on the Kidney Stone Diet
So I will get this question all day long. “Jill, what about this food? What about that food?” You see all the YouTube videos: sesame seeds, peanut butter, pickles, whatever it is, right? People want to know, what can they do to lower the oxalate. Eat less of the product and donate it every so that means don’t eat it every day. More important–I want everyone to listen to these words–more important is to get your calcium needs met most days. That is how oxalate doesn’t get reabsorbed back into your body, okay? So, that’s the important part. Becky, have your potatoes, have the skin, don’t boil them, and share it with your partner, then you’ll have less. But if you want to have a whole baked potato once in a while, you can do that, too. Watch your oxalate for the rest of the day, get your calcium needs met–nobody formed a stone by having a baked potato on a Tuesday. I hope that makes sense.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, for sure. And what are the calcium needs then, again? Just once again to reiterate.
How Can I Meet My Daily Calcium Needs If I Don’t Eat Dairy?
Jill Harris: Yes, for men and women: 1000 milligrams of calcium a day. If you’re a woman, well, of course, you have to be a woman, postmenopausal women, up to 1200 a day. “Up to,” people. That doesn’t mean over. Calcium is not the best absorbed mineral. So we can still take in our normal amounts, but have some spill out in our urine. So I don’t want people going over. Up to! Even if, you know, your goal is like 1000 milligrams a day, even if you’re getting like 800–it’s 800 more or 600 more than before you met us, okay? Just know that you need calcium for your bones because you don’t want to get osteoporosis. And for kidney stone disease, it helps to get rid of the excess oxalate, but it’s a bone thing, too.
Many kidney stone formers also have osteoporosis and that’s because people are losing calcium from their bones from eating too much sugar and salt. So calcium is a very important part of the Kidney Stone Diet. “I don’t eat dairy, Jill!” I’m not saying you have to eat dairy. There are non-dairy sources, too. And the non-dairy sources, they’re supplemented. And then the next question will be, “Well, you said I can’t take supplement pills. Why can I have oat milk? Or why can I have, then, unsweetened coconut milk?”
Well, you can have that because it’s a little better absorbed from those drinks than it is in pill form. And, really, make sure you get it throughout the day. You don’t want to overdo calcium, you don’t want two glasses of oatmilk. It’s too much for the body to absorb. So spread it out throughout the day. If you’re somebody that must take supplements–think bariatric patients or maybe your doctor said to take supplements, talk to your doctor about it–when you do take a pill form supplement, it must be taken with food. That’s the best way it can be absorbed, so know that, too.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, so important. And yeah, supplements are always the big question because you’re not super keen on them for all the reasons. But when it comes to delivering it through the milk, through the different things, it’s just a slightly different mechanism that helps you get it in.
Jill Harris: I think, too, well I think the supplement industry is a lot of bull-do. Now some of us need supplements. A blood test will tell you if you’re low in vitamin D. If you’re low in certain things, you may need a supplement. B12, that’s fine, B vitamins, that’s fine. Like I’m always low in B’s because I don’t eat red meat and iron. There are some supplements you definitely need and a blood test will tell you if that’s the case. But, overall, people, there’s so many supplements on those shelves, they’re not regulated. They’re not. Who knows is that 500 milligrams of calcium in that pill? You don’t know. It’s just not a regulated industry.
And, really, if you eat a well-balanced diet, you should be able to get most of your nutrients from your food, people. And this is what we’re touting here. So put that 10 bucks in your pocket from a pill because you’re always going to absorb nutrients and minerals, and phytonutrients much better from food than you are in a pill. But because we’re always looking for a quick fix, the vitamin industry is a zillion dollar industry. And, really, I think we just pee most of that stuff right out of the toilet. So, that’s my humble opinion.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and so thank you, Becky, for your question. If you’re listening and have a question, it’s 773-789-8763, and we’ll feature you on a future episode. But I wanted to jump real quick just to the website at kidneystonediet.com and the meal plans because, like you were saying, you get a lot of your nutrition, like ideally, you’re getting the bulk of your vitamins and nutrients and everything from food. And that’s why we have the meal plans out there. It’s there to inspire you on the diversity of what you can eat on a daily basis. You don’t have to eat it. It’s not like “Eat these specific things every day.” It’s merely to just show that you don’t have to stick to a very tiny collection of things that maybe you’ve been eating every day for a very long time, just because it’s easy. And we’re just trying to make things a little bit easier on everyone.
Jill Harris: Yeah, and the best thing about the meal plans is everything’s figured out for you: your sodium, your sugar, your oxalate. So, each recipe will also pull out the Kidney Stone Diet goals and tell you how much is in each dish that is on there. So, it’s helpful to people so they don’t have to–I’ve done all that for people so they don’t have to, “How much oxalate’s in this or that or that?” Also, I always get some education in everything I everything that we give out. So each recipe will have Kidney Stone Diet-safe tips, and they can be pretty lengthy, meaning a paragraph. I’m not just saying a couple things, I’m trying to also educate you with the meal plan because that’s what this is all about. The more you know, the less disease you can get and that’s super important to us.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. Again, I think that’s a great place to wrap so you can head over to kidneystonediet.com to find that and everything else, the free weekly newsletter, the Facebook group, the prevention course, just everything. It’s all there right at kidneystonediet.com. So, thanks again for listening. We truly appreciate each and every one of you and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Thanks, Becky. Bye!