This is the time of year when people get frustrated with their lifestyle changes and begin to give up and ditch the whole damn thing.
My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Every January 1st, people make unreasonable promises to themselves. For instance, here’s a list of promises I heard from one patient recently…
- I am going to learn Spanish for actual this year
- I will eat six fruits per day
- I will go vegan
- I am going to exercise 6 days a week
- I will stop eating sugar
When attempting to create new lifestyle habits (diet or otherwise), it’s easy to set unrealistic expectations—here’s how I teach patients to make new habits.
Set your intention and know your WHY?
Why do you want to make a lifestyle change? For most of my patients, it’s because they “never want to go through the pain of a kidney stone again.” Knowing your WHY is essential when you are about to give up. It helps you push through the frustration. KNOW YOUR WHY.
Slow your roll
Although the diet industry always tries to sell its products by telling us it is quick and easy, it is not. When looking at where to begin with the kidney stone diet, pick one single goal to start. Perhaps you start with water. Once you figure that goal out, you can take that new feeling of accomplishment and put it toward the next goal, such as lowering sodium.
Make a plan to hold yourself accountable. Whether talking to your partner in times of weakness, joining the Kidney Stone Prevention Video Course, or coming to our Accountability Group Calls, hold yourself accountable. People in these calls lose weight and keep it off because they have each other to help them get through the tough times. We don’t just talk about the oxalate content of avocados (19 for a medium one). Having accountability built into your new lifestyle will be very beneficial to you.
Keep Trigger Foods OUT OF YOUR HOUSE
This is a tough one. Patients tell me that when they have chips in the house, they can’t help themselves. And then my annoying self responds, “since you know this about yourself, stop buying them.” I can feel patients roll their eyes at me over the phone. Of course, this is the obvious answer, but it is hard to do. But try. I also have a snack ebook that contains 30 recipes that are lighter in salt and sugar but still delicious. I am particularly proud of my low oxalate protein bar.
Ask For Help From Loved Ones
Often my patients say, “my husband likes _______, and when he eats it, I can’t help myself and eat it too.” Ask your husband to stop eating that trigger food in front of you. It’s no different from a smoker lighting up a cigarette in front of the person trying to quit—it makes quitting nearly impossible. Hopefully, you have a supportive partner who understands why you want to change and how you need their support going forward.
You will have days when you do not meet your Kidney Stone Diet Goals. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. I don’t expect you to be perfect. I always tell my patients that this notion of being perfect is so boring. We are human. Life gets in the way of our intentions at times. Have a sweet treat. Enjoy the cake on your birthday or your taco Tuesday. You can always control the portion you have. Not a problem. No one makes a stone or gets diabetes from a single meal. It is what we do on a day-to-day basis that matters.
Have your favorite treat, and return to work with your next meal choice. You did not fail. You must continue. It is ok. You are ok. More than ok, I would say!!!
Portion Not Perfection
As I said, you will eat food for enjoyment sometimes, not just nourishment. Whether it’s unhealthy or healthy, pay attention to portion size. For those trying to lose weight, this will be one of the most important things you can do. Use a kitchen scale (I like this)* to help you. I feel another eye roll coming, but it takes 2 seconds to do this. I measure my meat and carbs because I am a lousy judge of portion size. I love using a scale. Many of my patients track what they eat at the beginning, whether by pen and paper or by an app. Do what you like best.
Give Yourself Time
You are NOT going to change everything at once. Think about six months to get a good grip on what is being asked of you. Again, diet culture has convinced us that we should be able to change decades worth of unhealthy eating in a single week. Because we think this way, we tend to give up as soon as we eat one unhealthy meal. Please don’t do that. Being patient will be hard. But knowing that lifestyle change is hard makes the outcome even sweeter. You will be so proud you stuck with it and came out the other side. And more importantly, you will lower your stone risk BIG TIME!
I always say that I am successful in my career only because my patients work hard. I am proud of every single one of them. I am proud of you too. I believe in you and am thrilled to be a part of your healthcare journey.
Now get to work. YOU GOT THIS!
Your friend and advocate,