This week, Jill answers a question about reducing kidney stone risk while also going out to eat.
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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 kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: As I’m taking a big swig of my water, we’ve noticed–just Amara and I with friends–so many of our friends, we’ll spend hours with them and they never drink any water. Like we’re going to the bathroom all the time, like not incessantly, but we drink so many fluids, it’s almost always a little off-putting to be like, “Oh, I went to the bathroom 2, maybe three times tonight. They didn’t get up once!” It’s so funny that like we are such, we’re so hydration-focused even before learning about kidney stones. It’s wild, now, when we see people who aren’t really like–it’s never water. Maybe it’s a Diet Coke, or a beer or something. But like never water. I don’t know. It always throws me off.
Jill Harris: It really is interesting, right? So, again, I’ll say this till I’m dead: until something goes wrong, people are just not paying attention. And it makes sense. Look, this is human nature. Until something goes wrong, we tend not to focus on it. Here’s what I notice. I know people that have every damn color water bottle known to man, they’re matching it with their outfit. They put their sneakers on. They’re bringing it to the gym. I see them all in the gym. Do I see anybody put it to their lips and gulp? That would be no. And I have patients, “Jill, I carry my water bottle everywhere!” And me being the smartass I am I’m like, “Okay, but are you sipping from it?” “Well, Jill…”
So, it’s funny. I’m talking about diet all day long, so, of course, I’m in tune to this. When I go out with people, they’ll tell me, “I don’t want to order nothing in front of you.” I’m like, “Let me tell you what. I don’t care what you eat. As a matter of fact, if you order something that’s like a fun food, I’m gonna enjoy watching you eat it. I’m not going to eat it. But, God bless, go for it!” I think it’s wonderful. I don’t care what people do. I really don’t, unless they’re sick and they’re coming to me. I’m certainly not going to, you know, school people on nutrition in my private time, because they’re not asking me, right? But it is funny that people are like “Oh, should we invite you tonight or no?”
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it definitely goes away, but it totally makes sense, too, because people know that we are also so health-focused. So it’s usually like, like, “Okay, I know there’s not a lot you can eat. Can you eat this?” Basically anything like, for me, it’s like no gluten, that’s the big thing just because of because of me, but just how I’m built, right? And Amara it’s no gluten, no dairy, but it’s funny because as soon as you connect those dots, then people do think like, “Okay, well how how challenging! This must be impossible to get food!” But this actually goes right into what we’re going to talk about today. Going out to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet and sort of like how people can do that comfortably because you don’t have to never go out to eat again.
Can I go out to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet?
Jill Harris: Yes! So, a lot of people call me and they’ll say, “Listen, I’m going to tell you straight up. I’m foodie. I’m a foodie and my husband and I, we’re retired and we’re out. We’re going out every day. We’re meeting our friends. This is our social life now you’re screwing with!” And I say, “You can still go out to eat. I don’t know about being a foodie. I think that’s gonna have to change because foodie doesn’t mean you’re eating lettuce all day. Foodie means you’re trying the sauces and you’re going out to the latest greatest restaurants and foodie means you’re into it. It’s a hobby, it’s a passion. And so you’re gonna have to back it up a little.” And I will say to patients, “Look you can be a little baby foodie, maybe, but you can’t be a full grown-up foodie because it’s all salt and junk.” It really is.
Those restaurant meals are so much salt, so much extra of everything that’s delicious. That’s why it’s good. But you can, of course, go out to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet. Now, I am going to tell my “foodie patients” five days a week are you going out? You’re just gonna have to learn and how to choose wiser. That’s all. People in New York? They’re not cooking. My nana used to have her bills in the stove. That was just her filing cabinet. There’s no cooking in New York, people. They just pick up food. So a lot of my job is very difficult because I have to tailor what a healthy diet is for every single person that comes to me.
So, what do I tell people who want to go out to eat all the time? I’m going to say these types of things. If you’re going out to dinner on a lot of nights, can you, number one, can you choose lower-salt items? Could you tell the chef or person cooking your food not to extra salt on the way out? Could you share your entree with your partner? Could you not have an appetizer, dessert, two glasses of wine, and dinner, all of those things? The whole appetizer-dinner thing has always killed me. Nobody at home is having cheese plates and a meat plate and all this. We don’t do that when we’re home, but when we go out, we do it. And then we have dessert, too! So it’s very interesting to me how much we overeat when we’re going to dinner.
Jeff Sarris: It just reminds me, I forget who the comedian was, but he was saying exactly that. He’s like, “When are you at home about to eat dinner and you’re like, ‘Give me a loaf of bread! Let me eat the whole loaf of bread before before I eat the meal.'” It’s just like so funny, but we have these different ways that we go about things when we’re going out to eat.
Jill Harris: A hundred percent and I think that’s a wonderful example, right? Who has two baskets of bread before they’re eating? Or all the chips before Mexican food. I mean, come on! We don’t do this. Nobody’s bringing three baskets of chips and guac and then we’re going to have our Tuesday tacos, Taco Tuesday. We don’t do that. So when we go out to eat, we tend to overeat because maybe it’s a celebration, maybe because we’re, you know, we had a hard day. So, whatever, we’re going to treat ourselves. I’m going to push this, too–and I told the patient this today–”Well, Jill, I had a bad dentist appointment, so I treated myself.” This was a real patient. And so then she said, “But you know, why would that’s what I call it. But it’s actually not a treat for myself, is it?” No, but it’s to uplift your mood, right? So we do all kinds of things with food. That’s separate. That’s a whole other video.
Here’s how to go out on the Kidney Stone Diet
But going out to eat, of course you can go out to eat! How I would do it is like this: if I knew I was going out to dinner, I would make sure that I’m eating a relatively low salt breakfast and lunch. That’s what I would do. I’m not telling you, you need to do this. I’m telling you what I would do. And this is what I do tell my patients. So I would say to myself, “Okay, I’m going out with the gang tonight. We’re gonna go out to eat, so I’m really going to pay attention to my salt and sugar intake leading up to that.” That’s one way to control it. Number two, like I said, you can split your entree. You can not have appetizers. You could say I’m going to have a glass of wine, but I’m not going to have dessert. So you don’t have to do all the courses plus alcohol.
Now, I’ll tell you what, I don’t go out to eat that much because of my bowel issues, because of my cancer surgeries, but if I were to go out to eat, I’m having the wine. I will forego desserts. I always have the wine. I’m having a cocktail or a glass of wine. That’s happening. So I know that about myself because it’s part of going out to me. I like being in the ambiance. I like having a glass of wine or a cocktail. That’s part of going out to eat for me. The food I can give a damn less, but if it’s alcohol, I’m gonna have it. So I make my mind up. I don’t leave myself starving. A lot of people do this. I know I’m going out to eat tonight. I can eat all day, but when that menu comes, you’re ravenous and you’re like, “I’ll have the right side and dessert. Let’s get five desserts!” And I mean we just ove eat. The other thing about booze, when we do drink, I’m not saying you can’t drink.
But, listen, when we do drink before dinner, we get a little buzzed. We’re like, “Oh, I’m feeling fine. I’m going to eat. I’m going to have an appetizer. I’m going to have–” Your inhibitions run wild. Now, you’re not as diligent because you’re a little buzzed so you’re like, “I’m gonna have this and this and this.” Because, in the moment, you really don’t give a darn about it. So that happens, too. So if I were going out to eat, I would pay attention to what I I would eat during the day. I would make sure I’m being extra diligent with myself and sugar. I would have my meal, but I would have my little glass of wine. Knowing that I’m going to also pay attention to what I order. I am going to ask for “Do not salt my food on the way out.” I would ask for sauces on the side. For me, because I’m low carb, I would get some vegetables. Get rid of the starch. And so there’s many different ways to skin a cat here.
So, what I do is I talk to each person on the phone and figure out what’s going to work for them. But you can go out to eat, you just have to pay attention to it. And I will say being a foodie is not going to be the best plan you might have to dial it down a little. Dial it back, being a foodie, because that automatically means high salt, it just does. It just does. There’s no way around that. Does that mean you can’t have maybe you and your husband, or you and your wife, you and your spouse, you and your partner, you go out on a Saturday night, but you’re not going out as much. You had a comp call with me and you’re like, “You know what, babe? We’re not going to go out as much. But, when we do, we’re really going to enjoy ourselves and then get right back on track Sunday. So, Saturday night, we’re going to go out. We’re going to do all the things. We’re not going to beat ourselves up for doing it and then Sunday morning, we get right back on our plan.”
You can do that, too, but the trick is finding the balance of feeling satisfied with your social life and going out to eat, but still being compliant. That balance is hard. You can do it. My patients do, but it may take a little planning and it may take a little commitment extra. It may take a little bit of willpower, and knowing what will make you happiest. I think, when you go out to eat, it’s important. Like for me, I’m having a glass of something, okay. I don’t give a damn about dessert, but I’m having the glass of something. That’s part of socializing for me. And I’m a lightweight, so I never have more than two drinks. Never because I would be drunk. I’m too little, but if I do have the second one, I do pay attention to, you know, there’s no bread. I don’t need anything before my meal. I just have my main meal. You can also, especially for lunches, if you’re going out for lunch, you can also always ask the server to cut up half your you know, portion. Maybe you’re served half and they automatically put the other half away and you can have that for lunch the next day.
You don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Restaurants tend to overserve. Unless you’re at a real fancy one where the plate is 100 bucks and the food’s as big as my eyeball. I hate that, but most places, you go to the restaurant and people are like, “Oh my god, honey! This is amazing!” They’re not even talking about the food. They’re just talking about the portion. People like to see a lot of food on their plate. So, do you need to eat that whole plate? Because, typically, it’s a couple times more than what you would serve yourself at home. So, again, can you go out to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet? Absolutely. It requires a little bit more planning, and a little bit more commitment, and getting right back on your plan the next day, but you can absolutely go out to eat. I’m not taking away people’s joy with that. Of course you can go out to eat. Did I leave anything uncovered? Does that makes sense?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it makes perfect sense! This isn’t about deprivation. It’s just about being aware. And, I mean, your shirt says it: “Portion, not perfection.” It’s not about being perfect. It’s just about being being cognizant of what we’re doing and trying to do our best because we’re talking long-term. We’re not talking one meal and then you’re gonna have a kidney stone. We’re talking months and years of eating a certain way that’s going to build these really painful reminders that we haven’t really been on track for so long.
Jill Harris: Yes, and so I think this is why diets don’t work. Because we feel like we have to give up all the joyful things about food. And it’s not just about food. It’s about what food represents to us, like, you know, for me, you know, getting together with my mom and everybody there and her making her bragioli and the pasta and even though I don’t eat a lot of this food, I like seeing it because it represents what my family is, right? So, your culture and how you’ve been brought up food represents so much. We cannot deprive ourselves. We cannot not have ice cream for the rest of our lives. We just can’t because life is short. And once we as human beings feel deprived, we don’t stop the longing, the craving for it and, eventually, we just cave and we binge. That’s what we do. And when we have that binge, we get so down on ourselves. We just cascade deeper and deeper into that. And then, before you know it, six months goes by, and you’ve gained all your weight back. You formed a new stone by that time. I mean, you know, if you just enjoyed yourself and got right back on your plan with your next meal choice or the next day, you’re going to find out that if you do that or not.
You’re not going to want to splurge as much because you get really used to a lower sodium–sugar always tastes amazing–but salt you will notice within a couple of weeks you’ll be like, “Oh my God, that’s so salty!” Believe me. I know y’all are like, “Whatever, girl!” But, for real, that’s what happened. Sugar, again, is a whole different ballgame. Sugar’s always delightful, but salt is not. It tastes bitter on your tongue. So, once you start getting right back on your plan, every time you do, have a little bit of something, you just get a different perspective. It feels good. It’s amazing. You feel strong, you feel energetic. People are like, “How are you so old and this energetic?!” Because I eat well! I exercise! I am creating energy for this body to move, baby. It’s the thing to do.
And so when you feed your body junk all the time, well, you’re not giving yourself energy. It’s simple input, whatever input/output, right? So I’m inputting really healthy things into my body most of the time, and I’m moving my body, that creates energy and then I sleep well. I’ve done all those things, right? And that creates energy. I surround myself with people that bring joy to my life, all of those kinds of things. So that’s where my energy comes from. So, all I’m saying is, it’s very important and we should be eating responsibly. We can’t take this for granted. So, can you go out to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet? Please do! The only thing I ask is, please, get back on track. After you do that, that’s all that’s all I’m asking. That is very doable. I can expect that from you guys.
Jeff Sarris: I think that’s a perfect note to end on. So if you have a question, the number’s 773-789-8763. And we would love to hear from you, feature you on a future episode. And if you want to dive deeper, you can go to kidneystonediet.com, where you can find everything all the free resources, the weekly email newsletter, the meal plans, the course the new project that’s coming out soon that we’re in the process of finishing up. Everything is at kidneystonediet.com.
And we really appreciate each and every one of you all of your support on Patreon, on YouTube with the comments and subscribing and liking, just everything across the board. It means the world to us. We really appreciate it and every little bit is helping us reach more people with the scientifically valid information that people deserve, especially when they’re dealing with something so severe and scary as kidney stones. I think with that we will wrap for this week. Thank you again, everyone, for listening and watching and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Bye, everybody! Thank you!