This week, Jill answers a listener question about kidney stones and a low carb diet.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
- Kidney Stone Diet Meal Plans
- Safe Snacks and Desserts Ebook
- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
- Private Coaching
Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
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: Hi, Jeff. And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. Look at my beautiful aqua sweatshirt. Portion, not perfection. Isn’t it pretty?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I really like the colors, like, obviously, I always wear black, but I love how that looks! And it gives me the Miami vibes. I love South Beach. Yes, spending time down there. So, it definitely reminds me of that right now in the in the winter, as you can see with the Christmas tree behind you.
Jill Harris: You know, the patients, my students in the Kidney Stone prevention course, we’ll get on the Zoom call and we all have our sweatshirts on! It’s so colorful and pretty. It’s so much fun to see these things come alive. We taped a batch of shows a few weeks ago, and now we’re doing the new batch, and I was so mad because the next day this shirt came. I’m like, “Damn, well, I guess I’ll just have to wear this session.” We all know that I’m also a black shirt wearing fool, but I don’t know, I think once you hit middle age, you just start like wearing the rainbow of colors. I really do. So I’ve been really enjoying the pink, the blue, and I’m going to ask Dave to put more out there. I feel like I’m just a changed woman these days with colors. So I’m diggin’ it.
Jeff Sarris: We’re gonna start to have to have seasonal lookbooks for you. We’ll do photo shoots and everything!
Jill Harris: But nobody wants to see this mug in a photoshoot! Thank you very much.
Jeff Sarris: But, yeah, there’s so much option out there with all of this because it’s meant to be inspirational, too. So it’s not just like, for the hell of it. It’s supposed to be something that keep us on track and to stick with it. I always say now “Don’t judge my joy,” like all the time to Amara. It just comes up. It’s just funny. I don’t know.
Jill Harris: Oh my god, Jeff. So I always say that, too. Obviously, that’s why we made a hoodie out of it. But, you know, the fact that people do judge other people’s joy, everybody in world–if you can find a little piece of joy in your day. Oh my God! You hold onto that joy, and you love it, and you lick it, and you just have it! So yeah, don’t let anybody judge your joy. Don’t let them do that! So, everything’s okay by you?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, things are good. I never talk about myself. I don’t know what to say. It’s always funny. It’s like, “How’s it going?” I’m never good with that question. I don’t know why, but I ask it all the time, just because I like it. But, yeah, things are good. It’s winter. We’re updating a few things in the house. And, not in my office, but the house is all Christmasy. Really excited about that. This week, I was dialing some things in with that. I said no tree last time. We have a tree. It’s a fake tree, but it’s a narrow, nine foot tall tree because you know, the ceilings in there are really high. And it just completes it. Now, it feels just right, so that’s been exciting.
Jill Harris: Look, I love trees. I love trees because I love the lights. I mean, it’s just warms up your home. I mean, Jeff, we haven’t seen the sun in a week now and it’s not going to be coming out anytime soon. S,o it’s just a chummy way to feel festive, whether you do Christmas or not. I always have little lights on in my room 365 a year. So I just I love the warmth of little lights. It makes me very happy. What do we have for today?
People are like, “We don’t give a shit about your lights. We’re here to talk about kidney stones!” There’s always a person in the comments that’s like, “Are you really going to keep talking?” Yes, we are. Yes, we are. So know that. That’s not going to change. We like talking to each other. And I’ll say this, too, you don’t like small talk. Before we shoot this show, we are talking about in-depth kinds of things. Jeff and I are meaty kind of conversationalists. We like getting right to it and same with the prevention course group calls. We get to the meat of things. We’re not just, you know, talking small talk.
We really try to figure out why it’s so hard to change diets, why it’s hard to lose weight. How do we stay compliant? How do we unbundle all of the habits we have concerning food? I want to say this, too, it’s still on sale. Get it for the holidays for you, especially before January 1 comes, people, and everyone is going to tell you with new diets of bull-do. Make sure you’re knowing how to do the Kidney Stone Diet. The course is on sale. That’s $40 off, and $149.
That also comes with the group calls for a month. After that, it’s $19 a month. Cancel at any time, obviously. And in the group calls, that’s where all the magic happen. Of course, itself is magical, but talking to me and other people in the group, to figure out how you are to change your diet for the long haul, and then practice it is worth its weight in gold at $149. You’ll find nothing like it at that price on the internet and we’re offering it to you because everything is kind of topsy turvy in our world right now. We respect that and we respect how much things cost. So we’re lowering the price $40 Right now, get it if you can. Jeff, let’s go!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, let’s dive into this week’s question.
How can I prevent kidney stones?
Listener Voicemail: Hi, my name is Marsha and I watched a video like one year back about your show that has–sorry for the background. It’s my baby–about the kidney stone issues. So I don’t have any kidney stone issue as of yet, but I want to know because I am of South Asian descent and need rice alternatives for weight loss and, you know, sugar level control and the least amount of oxalate so that I can consume everyday in moderation with my other foods. So what would you recommend?
There’s so much of information online. It’s just mind-boggling to know what to eat, what not to eat, and I’m trying my best to eat everything in moderation. I need to be more careful because I just gave birth five months ago and I have the weight loss thing that I’m focusing on. I’m also focusing on how to maintain my sugar level. I don’t have any sugar issue problem, but my family has some diabetes issues. I’ll really appreciate that if anybody can answer me about the rice alternatives which have weight loss, sugar level controls, and the least amount of oxalate that I can consume everyday in moderation. Thank you!
Jill Harris: She may not know this reference, but I’m gonna say this, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” That comes from the Brady Bunch, Marsha, which was a wildly popular show when I was growing up. Anyway, I am so impressed by Marsha. If I could spend an hour talking about how much I admire and respect Marsha, I would. Jeff would not want to sit here for that, nor would anybody else, but I’m telling you. When I hear somebody that’s so very interested, she said these things in case you couldn’t hear.
She had a baby five months ago. She is of South Asian descent, so rice is a part of her daily life. She’s looking for rice alternatives, because she wants to maintain. She doesn’t have any issues right now. She says she wants to lose weight because she had a baby five months ago. She says that she doesn’t have blood sugar issues, nor does she have kidney stones. So here’s somebody who has no health issues, as far as those two things, but she’s interested in making sure she doesn’t. And this is why I do what I do because that’s what this is about.
If you have kidney stones or not, the Kidney Stone Diet is just a healthy diet. That’s it. It is making sure you’re not daily overconsuming, on a daily basis, too much sugar, too much salt, making sure you get enough calcium–because you have a skeleton you need to feed–making sure you don’t overdo it for oxalate, so that’s particularly for kidney stone formers. Making sure you’re not overeating any food on a regular basis. That’s where the portion, not perfection comes from. The “perfection” part meaning we shouldn’t be so rigid with our diet that we can’t have a lollipop or a cupcake sometimes. That’s ridiculous and that’s why diets don’t work!
You’re gonna have your favorite foods. The other thing, whether you have kidney stones or not, is getting enough fluids in. We must hydrate our body. So the fact that she is calling without any of those issues, but still cares is why I get up every day and do what I do. That’s amazing. So, Marsha, thank you for your call. We appreciate it. And for anybody that’s listening, you don’t have to have a kidney stone to do the things we’re asking you to do here. We’re trying to prevent kidney stones, but I’m trying to help you prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone disease, high blood pressure, and kidney stones. All of the things that we’re asking you to pay attention to, not be perfect at, is so you don’t get sick.
When I was a nurse–”Nobody asked, Jill!” I’m telling you anyway. When I was a nurse at University of Chicago, and huffing it from bed to bed to bed, people were very sick. It would unnerve me, I’m like, “Oh my god, this is not why I signed up to be a nurse.” I didn’t want to manage all this once people got sick. It was a travesty to always feel like you didn’t do enough. I wanted to make sure I could help people before they got in a bed. That’s what I wanted to do. So, this is why I do the career I do, to try to manage this before you get sick. So, Marsha, the fact that you’re getting on that phone and saying all those beautiful things so you don’t get sick because you do have a child, you are responsible for what you put in your body, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing–and, also, by the way, people, she said I don’t know my head from my butt. My words, not Marsha’s. But she’s like, “There’s so much online information. I don’t know what to do about anything anymore!”
So one of the biggest things people come to me with they are like, “I don’t know what to do!” So, listen, all smart, smart people have come to this channel–or that I talk to every day–smart people that don’t know how to feed themselves. It’s because there’s so much erroneous information on the internet, with so much crap that you don’t know what to believe anymore. And, guess what, what I hear every day on the phone? You’re friggin’ afraid to eat! I hear it every day.
People are afraid of food. And it makes sense because of what they’ve just been through no matter what disease they have. When I was going through my cancer, I fell prey to that, too, being afraid of food with all that I know. So I can’t imagine how people feel without knowing or having the knowledge that I do. I have the knowledge and I still was afraid. So, my god, do I have extra passion ever since I got sick.
Should I eat carbs or avoid them?
So to answer your question, Marsha, let’s unravel this. Number one, “I’m South Asian, Jill. We have rice daily. What am I going to do?” I would say if it’s a food you enjoy, like rice, and that’s part of your culture, and you like it and you don’t have any blood sugar issues, you don’t have diabetes, and you don’t have a medical professional telling you to get rid of it, this is what I would do. I would have your rice in a half or a fourth of a cup portion size. I would have that a day. Maybe half a cup of rice a day. I’d always make sure I have plenty of vegetables with my rice. So you have high fiber curtailing and curbing the blood sugar spike you may get from the rice.
I don’t ever take away rice and, by the way, white rice is very, very low in oxalate. I think that was another one of her questions. Can I have that on a low oxalate diet? Of course, you can have rice. Brown rice has higher oxalate. Does that mean you can’t have brown rice? No, of course, have brown rice. Whenever I have rice, I’m on a low carb diet. That works for me. I like low carb. You could do whatever–the diet that works for you is the diet that works for you. So you’ve got to eat foods you like, otherwise you can’t sustain that diet. That’s why keto people will lose weight and gain it back because they can’t sustain not having a carb for the rest of their life.
Carbs are not evil. I’m gonna say that again. Carbs are not evil! They are a huge energy source for your body. Our cells need carbohydrates. That’s an energy source, people. Stop taking them off your plate. I eat a lower carb diet because that works for all my bowel stuff, but I definitely eat white rice. That is a simple carb, but for some reason my intestines don’t mind that and after all my bowel surgeries, lower carb works better for me. Otherwise, I I’ve always eaten carbs my whole life within portion. I would never eat a high carb diet. That wouldn’t work for me. I want fiber because I don’t want to get diabetes.
So repeatedly eating high processed carbohydrate food is not something I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting eating healthy carbs. If that’s white rice, fine. Eat it with some fruits and vegetables that will slow the roll on the blood sugar spike. But, certainly, you can keep that in your diet. As far as how much oxalate–Marsha asked that, how much oxalate? Now you don’t have a kidney stone problem. Does that mean I’m going to tell you to eat spinach and almonds as much as you want? No, I’m going to tell everybody get about 100 milligrams of oxalate a day. That’s the Kidney Stone Diet, okay, 100 milligrams a day.
Pick and choose you want. Obviously, spinach is off your plate because it’s over 600 milligrams a cup. So, that’s a no. Almonds are like 122 for a very small amount, so that’s off your plate, too. And almond bread, and almond flour, and all that stuff. So those two things I take. Every single thing is on your plate, even things that are a little higher in oxalate, and that’s where the portion not perfection comes from, too. “Jill, I can’t eat sweet potato. Harvard says it’s high!” But stop looking at the adjectives. That’s why we made the Safe Oxalate list. It is the foods from the Harvard list, but we took away the adjectives. So, you, as a grown, responsible, smart adult can choose the food you want.
Sweet potatoes is something like 28 milligrams of oxalate per cup, so have a cup, then you still got whatever left. Seventy-two? Whatever! I’m not a math-friggin’-matician. So, 72 left to do what you want, so get your calcium every day. You can eat a lot of foods, people. Marsha, specifically for you, when people come to me for weight loss, I put them on the Kidney Stone Diet. Lowering sugar, added sugar, not fruits, added sugar. Lowering your salt–by doing those two things right there, you’re going to be eating less processed foods. Does that mean you can’t go to McDonald’s? You can. I’m gonna say have the kid’s meal to tide you over until a healthier meal, or have your favorite Big Mac or whatever, then get right back to work.
Except for spinach and almond products, no food is off your table. So, when we lower sugar and salt–added sugar and salt–we tend to eat better. When we’re paying attention to that, we eat better. And if you’re used to a diet that’s high in processed food, you, of course, are going to start losing weight. Is it a Genie in a Bottle fix? No! You’re paying attention to how you’re nourishing your body. So you’re being mindful. Marsha doesn’t even have a disease. She’s just being responsible for how she nourishes her body and I applaud her for that. My mission is to make us all aware that this thing, this body that we’ve been given, it ain’t about fat and skinny and how we look and all that crap, it’s about how you fuel it so it can continue doing the work it is supposed to do for you.
And so my whole mission is for all of us not to take our body for granted. Why would we do that? I get that a cupcake tastes good. Have one and move on. That’s it. Don’t beat yourself up about it. So Marsha is grabbing the bull by the horns and she’s being proactive. I can’t ask for anything more from a human being than that. So, she has nothing pre-empting–there’s nothing that is starting this except she saw one of our YouTube videos and she’s like, “I want to learn how I can eat better.” That’s the bigger mission of this YouTube broadcast. How can we eat better with common sense and with also enjoying food? It’s possible, folks, if we just get right back to work. So keep your rice if you want it.
Use this grocery list!
You may say, “You know what, girl? I don’t need it. I don’t need it, but I like it.” So have it a few times a week. I eat rice maybe a couple times a week. Half a cup, depending upon what I’m doing that day, half a cup or less with my meal. I surround it with a bunch of high fiber vegetables. And I want you guys to go to kidneystonediet.com to find a grocery list on our blog or just Google “high fiber low oxalate foods and Jill,” and you’ll see it. It’ll come up. That’s a grocery list you can print so you don’t even have to think about anything. Low oxalate foods or moderate oxalate foods that you can go to the grocery store and get and also has high fiber. When we eat higher fiber foods, and we should be getting between 25 and 35 grams of fiber a day, that will keep us full so we’re not snacking in between meals all the time.
Check out these rice alternatives
That will also keep our blood sugar stable, so eating a high fiber diet and have that stuck with rice whenever I do have rice. I always have vegetables on my plate, but I make sure I have a nice a cup of vegetables on my plate as well. So what else? Rice alternatives, you don’t need rice alternatives, but if you wanted to, Marsha–if they’re available by you–I like to do the cauliflower rice, the broccoli rice, those kinds of things. You can find in your in your freezer section. Nowadays, you stick them in the microwave for five minutes, boom, bang, Bam! You got them. Beautiful, you don’t even have to worry about it. I think there’s butternut squash things you can use. There’s all kinds of rice alternatives, but you also don’t have to take rice off your plate. It’s not high in oxalate. So I think I got that all. Is that correct, Jeff?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah and with the alternatives, all I was just gonna add there was I think the cauliflower rice is a great option when someone wants to go that route. But, like you said, you’re not obligated to. Looking at the list here, half of a cup, cooked, one milligram of oxalate for cauliflower, specifically. Let me type in rice and just see here. White rice, cooked, one cup, is four milligrams. There’s the options there. One has more carbs than the other, which is something totally fair to be like, “I want to reduce the carbs, reduce the sugar.” But, like you said, the whole diet is focused on lowering salt, lower in sugar, and added sugar.
So, collectively, it is going to help. I just wanted to mention, you said half a cup of rice. That’s probably cooked, right? Because uncooked, that would sort of balloon into a fair amount of rice. Cooked rice, when we’re looking at the measurements for quantities. And, you know this, but low carb has been such a huge part of me, sort of dialing in where I feel best. And it’s been 12 years now where I’ve, I’m not no carb–
Jill Harris: Jeff, let me ask you this. I’m gonna interrupt you. I think it’s important that–because you’re very healthy, too. Obviously, birds of a feather, but would you like to tell people your journey about that? Like, why did you, 12 years ago, wake up one day and say, “Hey, this is what I’m thinking.” Tell us!
Jeff Sarris: It was finding the information through sort of like minded individuals and finding a specific author and blog. hHe had a book called “The Primal Blueprint.” So it’s sort of ancestral health and the Paleo diet, and this and that, and all of this stuff, realizing all the science connected to it, and how valuable that is for living a better life. Like that’s the whole thing about this show is to live a better life. That’s what we’re trying to help people do. It’s not that I wanted to optimize, just like I want to live. Sort of the thing is live long, drop dead. I want to be vibrant, as long as I possibly can. And I like to think I’m still relatively young. I just turned 40, but things change.
As life goes on, I noticed when I worked a job every afternoon, I just had that brain fog. I would be completely asleep 2pm. I wanted to take a nap every day and then I was like, “Oh, wait, if I’m not having pasta at lunch and I’m having high quality foods, I’m not sleeping in the afternoon.” All these little things started to happen where I was learning I was having these really dramatic sugar spikes and crashes. And I was like, “Oh, I’m cognitively improved. I’m a better person when I’m not doing that.” I’m able to do more of the things that I want to do with my life and experience it in a richer way.
So, carbs, specifically, that’s that, but then everything else just with health and wellness and diving into reducing processed foods and focusing on plants, animals. I always said “nuts and seeds” until we met. Those were the three things but then I was like, “Oh!” I knew nothing about oxalate–whenever we started this, I was like almost 10 years into health coaching and different things around there–oxalate never entered the picture. That’s what I think is so valuable, too, because all the low carb things, especially then it wasn’t everywhere, and you don’t know what you don’t know.
I felt like I understood health and then it’s like, “Oh, oxalate!” and it’s like I have been a spinach and almond fiend and I have lucked out thus far. Understanding that that just so happened to work out so far. Like, who knows? There could be stones in there, but it’s not anything I ever had on my radar. And, now, with what I know, I changed that part of how I’m approaching my diet, like my actual day-to-day diet.
Jill Harris: I think it’s so important, too, what I what I love teaching so much is that, you know–what I hear every day is, “Jill, I’ve been eating the same thing for 25 years.” Or, I hear this every day, “I did this to myself, Jill.” Again, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. So, because I’ve talked to so many people throughout the last 44 years, I know what people do. Not because I’m Einstein, but because people have told me. So I know what people do. And what they do is they find a healthy food and they just think, “The more I eat it, the healthier I will be.” And it makes total sense. I mean, it makes total sense, unless your kidney stone former. Then next thing you know, you start Googling, and then there’s so much crazy information.
So, I think that, you know, people who get to us, it’s because they had a kidney stone. But then we get a captive audience. And this is what I love. And it’s not just about teaching about kidney stones. It’s how can we teach overall nutrition in a way that has–I’m trying to put common sense back on people’s plates because the diet industry has taken it away from us. We are lost. Just like Marsha says, I don’t know what to believe on the internet. There’s so much conflicting information. And we we all know this! Everybody also has their own belief system on what a healthy diet is. And one of the reasons I can talk about diet for so many years is number one, this Diet ain’t going nowhere.
You’re lowering your salt. You’re lowering added sugar. You’re getting enough fluids again. You’re making sure you get some calcium, whether it’s a dairy source or non-dairy source. Not overeating any food, including meat protein. And watching oxalate, of course, but that’s the least important thing. And not overeating any food, people, and not eating the same darn foods over and over. Now, when you’re first starting the Kidney Stone Diet, I get people want to feel safe and they want to eat the same things for a while. I get it, but after they’ve had their feet wet for a while, I like them to broaden their horizons. There’s a bounty of food in our world. Go try some different foods other than a frickin’ banana!
I mean, come on, there’s so many beautiful fruits! When I first get on the phone with people, people are like, “Oh my god, Jill. I just want my banana!” I’m like, “I’m gonna give you homework. I’m just saying pick one fruit. I don’t give a damn what it is. Just pick one.” And I get on a phone call when we’re going on with their follow-up urine collection. “Well, Jill, I tried that food. And, guess what? You’re a pain in my ass because I have two foods now that I eat, plus the banana.” And that’s how we build up more nutrition for this beautiful body of ours. It’s slow, people. It’s a process, right?
And, then, as Jeff changed his diet 12 years ago, he’s learned things on the way. The one thing about diet and nutrition, guys, there’s it’s such a new field. I mean, we’re always going to learn new things, but hasn’t changed much in my 24 years, the things I’m talking about, right? Because we’re asking people to just try to be more rational about how they’re approaching diet without any tricks. Not being tricky about it, just eating food within normal portion sizes and enjoying your favorite things here and there. It’s a process, though, learning how to do it. It just is and also to go against our culture and say, “It ain’t quick and easy, folks.” You’ve got a little learning curve ahead of you.
So if you feel overwhelmed or anxious right now, that’s absolutely normal. Just stick with us here on this YouTube channel. Go to kidneystonediet.com. There’s so much information. Go to the Facebook page “Kidney Stone Diet with Jill Harris,” or something like that. It’s a private page because people post their medical stuff, so it’s a closed group. People can’t read it from your other Facebook groups. And go to kidneystonediet.com for so much free information. Spotify–what else, Jeff? We’re all over! TikTok, friggin’ Instagram. Go look! It’s all over! Free!
Jeff Sarris: I think that’s a perfect spot to wrap because that encompasses everything. There’s so much free information. We wanna reach as many people as we can with the tried and true–like you said, the health info isn’t what’s changing. It’s the perception of it. What this is, this hasn’t changed forever, but you get the on again off again diets. “Oh, drink this juice. Do this. It’s a quick fix.” Those things are always changing, but the actual how we fuel our bodies hasn’t changed. We’re still the same humans we’ve been for millennia. So it’s just how we work. But, anyway, thanks again for your question, Marsha. If you’re out there with a question, the number is 773-789-8763. And we’d love to feature your voice on a future episode.
Jill Harris: And subscribe to the channel!
Jeff Sarris: Yes, definitely.
Jill Harris: I mean, come on, people. You need to help us with that. We don’t ask for much. Subscribe to the channel and write something in the comments because we love building the community here. That’s really important to us, too. I love answering those questions on our YouTube channel here.
Jeff Sarris: And if you’re listening on Spotify, a little review goes a long way, on Spotify or Apple! Anyway, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next time.
Jill Harris: Thank you Marsha! You’re the bomb! You’re the bomb.com, Marsha!