This week Jill shares some surprising news about coffee and kidney stones.
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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: And I’m Jill Harris, your chap-lipped kidney stone prevention nurse. I mean, I’m just saying, Jeff, we had Halloween last week and on November 1st, it was like frost. It was just like Santa Claus was actually coming to town early because it was freezing, wasn’t it?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it is wild. I mean, my patio is right out here, right outside this window. And all the furniture– we have these covers on it, and it is all ice which is really disappointing to see. I mean, I was hoping to get out there and enjoy some of the weather but yeah, it’s pretty cold right now.
Jill Harris: Look, here’s the thing, Jeff, we live here for decades. Okay, we we grew up here, meaning in Illinois, and we always act like, “Oh my god. Can you believe how freaking cold it is?!” But it is always so shocking, because you’ll go from like an 80 degree day to 30. It’s like, what? I don’t even know why I have jackets and shackets. I don’t know why because you go right from a tank top to a down goose coat and earmuffs. I had earmuffs on yesterday! I’m like, really?
Jeff Sarris: It’s wild. It happens so, so fast. I mean, I am glad it’s still sunny. That is the thing when we get sort of in the part of the winter that’s just cloudy, that’s never a good time.
Jill Harris: Look, I don’t care–I 100% agree. I really don’t care that it’s cold. I’m always hot anyway, so it doesn’t matter to me, but the clouds all the time. No, don’t like it. It’s very depressing.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, we’re hoping to get away for a little bit this winter. So we’ll see how that goes. Just I hope you had a flee to maybe Miami because we love Miami Beach. We love the food, love the culture, everything. So, maybe for some of the episodes in the future, my scene will be a little different. We’ll find out.
Jill Harris: Well, that would be nice. I’m all for it!
Jeff Sarris: So, we’re back with another FAQ, of sorts. And this is a really interesting one, I think, because it’s the question, “Can coffee prevent kidney stones?”
It’s About Portion, Not Perfection
Jill Harris: Yeah, people are gonna say what are they talking about now? So, a lot of patients come to me and say, “My doctor told me…” or “I just stopped coffee because I was told that it’s just a no-no. It’s super high in oxalate. It’s a problem. I’m not going to drink it anymore.” And then I come along and I dispel that myth. And, actually, there are studies that say coffee can prevent kidney stones. “Oh, my goodness, Jill, really? Are you really just going to make us click on this video telling lies?” I’m not lying!
I actually have an article at Dr. Fred Coe’s site. He is my mentor, and I think the article is called “A Thirst for Variety.” It’s on his website at kidneystone.uchicago.edu. And in that article, we have some mention of teas, and coffee, and alcohol, and soda, and all these beverages that we’re told not to drink, and they actually prevent kidney stones. But, of course, in every study done, you have to read the whole thing, people, because it’s always about portion, not perfection.
So, if you have a cup of coffee or two–I’m gonna tell you right now, those of you who know me well know this to be true. Every day, I take one hour to myself. It don’t matter what I do: I could be writing my newsletter; I could be looking at Instagram, TikTok, or whatever the hell it is. I could be doing whatever: reading, playing, whatever. It’s my hour. Generally, between 6:30 and 7:30 in the morning, I am up doing my hour with my cup of coffee. Oh yeah, baby. There isn’t a night I don’t go to bed, snuggling, thinking about waking up so excited to start my day with my cup of coffee. It’s true.
And I get my hour because I have to take care of myself before I can take care of any single person that comes my way throughout the day. It’s how I gather my energy. It’s how I just gather my happiness. So, I take care of myself, and then I’m able to take care of everybody else and it’s a wonderful feeling. Anyway, the point is, a cup of coffee every single day. Even when I was going through chemotherapy, I had a cup of coffee no matter how sick I was. I gotta have it. I love it. It makes me very happy. I love the taste. So, coffee and kidney stones, because everyone’s like, “Jill, if you think I’m getting out my diary tonight, writing about how much you love coffee, I’m not. Get to it, sister.”
Okay, coffee and kidney stones? Yes. Why can’t it prevent kidney stones? Like I said, there’s a catch. All fluids count. Your daily fluids, all of them count. You want to have a diet soda, it counts. If you want to have a cup of tea, it counts. If you want to have a cup of coffee, it counts. If you want to have a glass of wine, it counts. All fluids count. Water is best. So, the problem is this: you’ll see people go to Starbucks. They will get a cup of coffee the size of Jeff’s body. He’s a very tall man, people, a very tall man.
They can barely get the cup of coffee out of the shop by itself. It’s so much coffee, okay, with doodles, and whipped cream, and lollipops in it. People think, “Oh, it’s only coffee.” That was a Baskin Robbins ice cream sundae! I don’t know what y’all are thinking is a cup of coffee no more, but everyone’s lost their ever-loving mind. A cup of coffee–think an Edward Hopper portrait. People sitting in a diner with a cup of coffee. Think Seinfeld, if you don’t know who Edward Hopper is. Think Seinfeld! Elaine, and Jerry, and Kramer, and George, they were having a cup of coffee, a little six-ounce cup of coffee. Not 25 ounces, not 100 ounces, not six ounces a day, not with all the sugar in it. So, a regular cup or two of coffee a day can actually help increase your total fluids. And that’s how they help prevent kidney stones.
But I wanted to do this video because many people give up coffee. Many people think they can never have a glass of wine. Am I telling you to get drunk every night, people? No! But I’m saying when we add things or keep things in our diet that make us happy–like me getting so excited about my one stupid cup of coffee in the morning. It brings me joy. And so you’re always thinking I’m killing your joy with food and beverage and all that, I’m not. I’m just telling you eat and drink responsibly. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. This body that carries you around, does a lot for you every day.
How are you paying it back? Are you overloading it with caffeine? Are you eating too much sugar? Are you getting your skeleton some calcium? Are you overdoing meat protein that’s leading to very acidic urine and taking away your citrate–things that are very important in kidney stone disease, good and bad that you need to know about. So, I’m not here to kill your joy. Actually, I’m here to bring things back for you. I’m just asking, please drink your coffee responsibly. Have a cup or two, a true cup or two. Absolutely have some tea. Just don’t steep it for five hours, and don’t have 10 cups of it.
That sun tea that’s sitting in your driveway, all day steepin’ in the sun in South Carolina, don’t do that. Don’t drink that whole thing. So, have smaller portions of your favorite thing. That will bring you joy. And, when you get to keep things like that in your diet, you are more apt to be compliant in the long haul. When you take away everything, you’re not going to be able to stick to that. Remember how much weight you lost last year, and how much weight you gained again this year because you couldn’t stand–as a human being–never eating a bun again. It’s a dumb diet.
Some of you will say, “I can!” Well, God bless. That’s two out of 1 million, okay? But for those of you who are the majority, that really do want to have a tea here and there and a coffee here and there, it will help prevent your stones because you’re getting more fluids. So, coffee, absolutely fine to have. Consider it part of your daily volume of fluids. Always know that water is best, but all these other things help add to your total. So, that’s my little deal on coffee.
Jeff Sarris: And I’m just curious, what is your go to when it comes to coffee?
Jill Harris: Okay, I’m really cheap with things about me–meaning we’ll go to Marshall’s and I have found cheaper coffees at Marshall’s. There’s a brand called Joe’s that I really like. When I’m feeling fancy, at my regular grocery store, I will get Pete’s. Then, sometimes, I’ll go really old school. One of my closest friends is Puerto Rican and she owns a Puerto Rican bakery here in Chicago. She has lots of fancy coffees, but she always has kept Café Bustelo in her kitchen, so I get that, too. So, I actually like to trade out. I do not drink Starbucks, so they will not ever sponsor us. I’m not a Starbucks fans. It’s a little bit too bitter for me. And believe me, I like my coffee like wine: full-bodied, heavy. Think scotch and whiskey. I like that, too.
I like to diblle in that sometimes, a little bip of that. So, I like heavy notes. And so you would think I would like Starbucks, but it’s a bit too bitter for me. So, I kind of vary it. I was just at Marshall’s yesterday and I got some kind of Christmas blend. It’s ehh, you know. So, I like to try different things. I’m not a flavored coffee person–and here’s another little known fact about me. I like to start my day with a little coconut creamer that actually has added sugar. So, Jill blank Harris, because I have no middle name, actually starts her day with added sugar. It’s vanilla because vanilla is one of my most favorite things on earth, and I will not give it up because it brings me joy.
And if I start my day with joy–or I don’t have to start it with joy–I start my day with things that really make me happy. I eat foods that make me happy, and then I can be compliant. That’s when this becomes your lifestyle. Figure out and eat the foods that make you happy, that are healthy. So, I start my day with three grams of added sugar, but I ain’t got no more added sugar for the rest of my day. So a woman can have up to 25 grams of added sugar, a man up to 37.5. I give them the extra half and call it 38 grams of added sugar. So use it where you want it. If you’re like, “Hey, I gotta have two Oreos every day, sister. That’s what’s happening over here.” I say, “God bless. Have it!”
If that’s what’s gonna bring you joy, and it’s gonna make you be able to be compliant, it don’t matter what you do. The rule is, it’s your rules. We’re giving you goals, you meet them how you need to meet them. If you want to have a candy bar every day because that makes you happy and you’re not a diabetic, or you got your glucose under control and it fits into the kidney stone diet goals, darn right you can have it. Because you know if you have that, you don’t care about added sugar anywhere else. That’s what makes you happy.
So I don’t care about cookies and cakes. I like my mother’s Italian cookies that she has for me. I’ll have one sometimes or two, and I love them. But I’m not over eating anywhere else. So I can do it without feeling anxiety or feeling like I’m going to make a stone or gain weight because I’m watching my portion and those Italian cookies make– Ma, I hate you when you have them every Sunday, but I love them, too. You know it. That’s why she keeps buying them. They make me so happy. They’re butter cookies with chocolate and sprinkles. What’s not to be happy about? But when you eat well, overall, you can fit those things into your diet. Coffee, a tea, Italian cookies, whatever your jam is, man, you can have it as long as you stay within your goals and get right back on track with the next meal choice, right?
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! And, I mean, that is why the entire site and platform exists. It’s to sort of give you that framework, like you said, the guidelines and the goals that someone can follow. And then you choose how you’re going to follow it on your own. The meal plan can guide you along and give you inspiration along the way to show that it’s easier than you might think.
But yeah, at kidneystonediet.com, you can find all of this info, all the details about those goals specifically and what what the Kidney Stone Diet is. And, if you wanna dive deeper, you know, you can always get the course or the meal plans or anything else, but everything is free. Everything’s out there, and you can get moving down this journey right away. You don’t have to deprive yourself ever because the joy in life is so important. Like, if something gives you joy, you need to find how to keep that joy on a day-to-day basis.
Jill Harris: Unless it’s a spinach salad! You can’t have joy with that. Sorry!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, no spinach salads with slivered almonds. None of that, but almost anything else.
Jill Harris: Almost anything else, and that’s for sure! Listen, and just to talk about diets in general. I’m not a believer in, you know, take away a whole food group here but it as much as you want of this other food group. Come on, people. And that’s just because we, as human beings, really like to eat as much as we want of something. And the diet industry knows that, so they’re going to make those kinds of diets up.
We shouldn’t be over eating anything. And I am going to pop your joy balloon with that. We really shouldn’t. I mean, we should eat enough to feel full, to feel happy, to make our body move properly for ourselves, and that’s it. I mean, food is here to nourish us, too. Once in a while, of course, for pleasure. Keep your favorite things in your diet that will keep you compliant for the long haul, and you can pretty much fit anything in it as long as you remember portion not perfection, okay?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I think that is the perfect note to head out on. So, if you’re enjoying the show, be sure to subscribe on YouTube. Hit that little bell, so you get notified whenever new episodes come out, which is every Tuesday. And head on over to kidneystonediet.com and join the email newsletter. I mean, there are so many people on that list now. It’s amazing.! I look every so often and it’s like wow! There’s a lot of people that are quiet, you know, they’re out there, they want the information, but they’re not calling into the show. We’re not necessarily engaging in a direct one-to-one time, but it’s amazing to be able to reach so many people. And, every week, Jill’s sending out an email just to nudge you along on your journey, keep you going, and just help out in any way she can.
Jill Harris: I love that newsletter, too, because I get hundreds of emails on Saturday when that goes out. Yeah, people are not as vocal as say somebody like me, right? So, they reach out to me vis-à-vis email, for sure.
Jeff Sarris: But yeah, that will do it for this week. Again, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Jill Harris: Bye, friends!