This week on the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast, Jill Harris answers a listener question about habits, cravings, and managing a sweet tooth.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
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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. Boop!
Jeff Sarris: So, here we are at the last episode for today that we’re recording because we batch these to be most efficient. We were just talking about how far into the year we’re gonna be once this batch is done. It’s wild. Time is just zooming by!
Jill Harris: It’ll be March next time we record it again. Right now it’s the middle of January. Yeah, it’s amazing. So, we’re basically doing our timelines in our life by how many podcasts we do, right? So, we’re doing five today so that puts us out now to March. Wow! Time goes fast when you’re living your life through the podcast world.
Jeff Sarris: Oh, yeah. This will actually be number six today.
Jill Harris: Oh, really?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah. We did a lot. But yeah, thank you again to everyone who’s called and left a voicemail, and definitely keep them coming. It’s so nice to have your voices heard on the show. And we love hearing from you. It’s just awesome. Again, that number 773-789-8763. But yeah, we really, really hope to hear from you.
Jill Harris: And don’t be shy! Call us. We like to hear your voices. Everyone gets sick of hearing me. Let’s hear your voice. Don’t be shy. Ask some questions. Don’t even worry if they’ve been asked before. It doesn’t matter. There’s always a new way to give an answer. So don’t worry about anything. Just ask whatever you want to know.
Jeff Sarris: Oh, yeah, for sure. So…
Jill Harris: Even, Jeffrey, if it happens to be just, “Jill–habits, how do you do a lifestyle change? Where do you start?” It could be all of that. It doesn’t have to be just you know, salt or the Kidney Stone Diet. “How do you make a change? Jill, I need to lose weight?” So all those things. “Weight loss? What does that have to do with anything?” “Well, I’m going to put you on the Kidney Stone Diet and we’re going to talk about, it’s not just about you being overweight, it’s about the habits that got you there and, also, a kidney stone most likely.” So, anyway, go ahead, Jeff.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I mean, because it’s just wellness all around. And you’re very experienced in all of these topics. So yeah, we didn’t touch on so much. So anything you can help with, definitely leave a voicemail and we’ll have you on the show. But, speaking of voicemail, let’s get to this week’s call.
Listener Voicemail: Hi, Jill, my name is Molly. I live in Portland, Oregon and I just absolutely love you. You’re so funny. You do such a great job connecting with others and I just feel so much more hopeful and engaged in this time in my life where I’m finally feeling educated after having kidney stones off-and-on for 21 years. So thank you so much for all you do.
I really just wanting to hear podcast on chocolate. My biggest weakness is chocolate, different kinds of chocolate, and even just a little bit of a topic about sweets, in general. I just don’t know how I’m gonna get to a point that I would like to get to where I can manage my sweet tooth, but I do think I’m progressing so much in all of your other advice that I am hopeful we’ll get there. But I’d love to just hear you talk a little bit more about the things that are really popular for those of us that have sweet tooths, chocolate being one of them. But love all your thoughts on it. Thank you so much. Buh-bye!
Are You a Sweetie or a Saltie?
Jill Harris: Molly. So, Molly has called before. You know I’m in love with Molly. Just her presence. She’s just so sweet. Well, and Molly’s saying she’s what I call a “Sweetie.” So there’s “Salties” and there’s “Sweeties.” Then, sometimes, there’s “Salties and Sweeties,” but mostly you’re one or the other. Most people will say, “Jill I don’t care about no sugar, but I love me some salt and that’s really hard for me!” Well, Molly is a Sweetie. Her heart is sweet and her cravings are that of a “Sweetie.” So, how do we take somebody who’s a Sweetie and make them a little less sweet?
Molly, for the rest of your life, you’ll be practicing this. So, there’s a few things that she said. She said, “I’ve always enjoyed chocolate. I feel like I’m progressing, but I’m really not where I want to be.” And so many many, many, many people want to know about chocolate. Lots of videos about chocolate! Because they want to know–first of all, most people who have a calcium oxalate stone are told to stay away from chocolate. Never again! Never! Maybe when you go to heaven, you’ll get some at the gates, but other than that, no more chocolate for you, Molly!
That’s not true. It’s not true, but–because there’s always the but–I always give you something. But I’m not that selfless. I’m going to ask for a little something back. And here’s what I want back from you: portion. Many people will say, and I would assume– and Molly can call back another time just because I’m so in love with her and her voice–I would assume that because Molly thinks she’s such a Sweetie, that if I tell Molly–I have to know who I’m talking to–If I tell Molly, she could have chocolate, Molly may have a hell of a time trying to stick to that “portion, not perfection mantra that I have. Meaning–and many Sweeties will have this–once they have a little bip of their favorite food, that becomes a boop real fast, real fast, because something gets triggered in their brain.
There’s science to prove this, that they’re gonna want more. Your brain lights up, happiness. You know, when you’re trying to lower sodium patients will say, “Yeah, Jill, I thought you were lying, but after just a couple of weeks, I’m really monitoring my salt, I had some soup at Applebee’s and I thought I was gonna die. I was so thirsty. Hell no! Hated it!” But sugar people: sugar is a party in your mouth every damn day, every damn night! It’s always good! No one ever says, “Ugh, sugar!” No one. Now, you may not crave it, like maybe Molly does, or love it, like Molly does, but nobody could ever say sugar is disgusting. I’ve never met that person.
But some people will have a really hard time not being triggered by sugar. So, Molly saying, “Look, I like a lot of sugar. What the heck am I supposed to do?” Oh, lady, well, I’m going to tell you this: I’m really proud of you because you said you’re progressing and that’s where we want you to be. You’re not going to go from eating as much sugar as you want every day to 25 grams of added sugar a day overnight. It may take you a year, Molly, to really get there, but the point is, you’re always in the game. So, maybe next Saturday night, you have me in your head, you’re like, “Oh, God, she said if I can’t control myself, I shouldn’t even have it in my house, but there it is a pack that I forgot about and now I’m faced with it.”
Will You Form a Stone If You “Fall Off the Wagon” For a Day?
So you eat it and there’s 1000 grams of sugar. I’m exaggerating, in that whole bad, whatever you just say, now what? You’re terrible. You’re never gonna make it. You’re off the Kidney Stone Diet. You maybe made a stone in that one chocolate session? No, nope, no, nah, none of it. None of its gonna happen. None of its gonna happen! It just means you have a little bit of extra sugar that day. And so what I want you to do when that happens, and plan for it, please manage your expectations, all of you when you’re trying to change your habits. You ain’t gonna be a nun overnight. That ain’t gonna happen. Be realistic. Manage your expectations. Know that something’s going to trigger you with you’ve had a fight with your spouse, whether your boss is a jerk, whether the traffic was terrible. Your husband got mad at you today. Whatever it is, whatever it is, because life throws things our way.
How are you going to manage it? It may be a day where we know Ben and Jerry says that that’s four servings in that pint, but if you had a shitty enough day, you’re going to consider that one serving. We all know that. What is four servings of a Ben and Jerry’s pint, by the way? That ain’t even worth me getting my spoon out. That’s ridiculous, but that’s four servings, right? And you may have a bad day and say, “I’m getting a pint of that, and I don’t care what Ben, Jerry, or Jill says! I’m having that damn pint.” Does that mean you’re going to form a stone? Absolutely not. Does that mean you’re not progressing? Absolutely not. That means you had a plan to ice cream who cares? Too bad. So sad. Get up the next day and get back to work. That’s how we do here at the Kidney Stone Diet. That’s how we do.
So this diet is way more than a bunch of goals. Listen, I couldn’t talk about five goals for 20, almost thirty years. We’re talking about, “what do we do when we fall down? What do we do?” It ain’t even fallin’ down! It’s just some friggin’ Ben and Jerry’s. Shut up! Who cares? So, Molly, who’s struggles with really enjoying sugar–and since I know Molly, because she’s called in before she says, “Look, I don’t want to lose any more weight.” So it’s not like she has to lose weight, so she’s not worried about the calories from sugar. But she’s saying, “Look, basically, I’m just eating as much as I want of sugar. How the hell am I going to be able to control this?” Day by day, sometimes minute, by minute.
You will start new habits that maybe when something goes well or not so well, you’re not reaching for sugar. Also, when you eat less of it, you will crave less of it. When you eat more of it, you will want more of it. Because your brain does light up for a few minutes and you do feel that sugar rush. That’s a real thing. That’s not make believe. And so sometimes when you’re feeling low, you want to feel that in your body and in your mind, and it feels good. But typically what happens afterwards, that sugar leaves your system, and you’re going to want more. So you get that reward again, in your brain, and so on and so on and so on. So, many times. I’ll say start with this: I always have a fruit bowl right on my end, Molly’s like, “Oh, shit, I knew she was gonna say friggin’ fruit. I’m talking, girl, I want a Snickers bar. I don’t want no apple.” I know. I know. Jeff’s like, “Why am I here?” Shut up. Hold on. Let me get it together. Wait, wait!
Let’s Talk-o-late About Chocolate
So I know that we’re not always going to cure–Jill said, “Okay, every time I want a piece of chocolate, go get an apple or a pear or some kind of fruit.” I’m not saying that that’s more fun of a choice for your mind, but it’s definitely a happier choice for your body. And you’ll also get fiber with fruit. So you won’t get that big blood sugar rush, okay? And you won’t be crashing and burning all the time throughout the day. So when you start limiting your chocolate, you will crave it less. If you keep eating it, you’re going to crave it more. Now, specifically, chocolate it is high in oxalate. So for people who are not triggered by chocolate–now, for me, I don’t care about the chocolate. I like crunch. That’s where I get off. I like crunchy things. So chocolate I can have a Lily’s no sugar added–because there’s stevia in it, sweetened stevia. There’s no oxalate in stevia once once it’s processed, just the plant does it.
So I’ll get a Lily’s chocolate bar–I could have that chocolate bar in my house for two months. And why am I telling you that because I’m showing off? I’m just saying it’s not a trigger for me. So I can, if I want a piece of chocolate, I will actually have one square. That does me because I don’t need it that much. It’s not a trigger food for me. No Cheez-Its in this house, though. So we all have our addictions and things we cannot have in our house. If you can control it, Molly, and it doesn’t lead you to a whole tunnel of debauchery, meaning if you can control it, then absolutely have a bip or a boop of chocolate. It is high in oxalate. So I would save some of my calcium beverage for that chocolate. So it doesn’t increase your oxalate. If you can’t, if you’re like, “Oh, Jill’s so cute. She thinks I can have two pieces of chocolate! That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
If you’re saying that right now, no chocolate in your house. Maybe you only have chocolate when you go out to eat once in a while because when you go home, it ain’t gonna be there. So there’s different ways in which you can bring it into your life and still getting some happiness here and there, but it’s not going to feed the addiction you have for sugar. And don’t be don’t be cringy that I said the word ‘addiction.’ Many people are addicted to sugar. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I have crackers in my house, I would say I’m a cracker addict. I can’t have them in my house. So we all have our things. And so if it’s not a trigger for you–sounds like it would be, though, then I would say have a square or two, put your calcium beverage with that, and get on with your life.
If it is, save it for special occasions only. Make some rules around it, rules that will work for you. Now if I was talking to not Molly, but Holly, I may tell Holly something different based upon what she tells me. It sounds like Molly really loves her sugar. She’s never had to watch it before because she’s thin no matter what, and so this is a whole new realm for her. It’s a big change, so I would start slowly. And with 25 grams of added sugar-maybe normally, Molly, you’re eating 100 grams of sugar a day of added sugar, I would say go down to 50. Work your way down to the 25 grams of added sugar a day that’s on the Kidney Stone Diet. Once you get there, it won’t be such big of a deal, but the problem is people think they have to make this change from a Monday afternoon to a Tuesday morning. That’s absolutely impossible. And stop thinking that way.
Although the diet industry has told us that for decades. That’s why we believe it, but that’s not how diets work, not long-term ones. And this is a lifestyle we’re trying to create for you. So, the other thing about chocolate–white chocolate is very low oxalate because there’s no cacao in it, you could have that. But again, if you’re triggered by sweets, I’m not telling you that you can have as much as you want to white chocolate. I’m just saying–and it’s a very different taste–I’m just saying, you may sub out that if that doesn’t trigger you into sugarland. What else did I miss on that one, Jeff? Anything?
Jeff Sarris: Oh, nothing! I mean, habits are–habit-forming is a topic in itself. It’s so difficult. To make a change isn’t simple. It’s not a flick of a switch. It’s very challenging.
Jill Harris: It’s not a flick of a switch, and there’s so much stuff out there that says 21 days to break a habit or start a new one. That’s such bull-do. I don’t even know what to say. So on day 21, I guess you’re just a whole new person? Everybody is just a whole new person? What about the person who can switch day two? What about the person that takes day 60, but they can’t switch? What kind of propaganda crap to buy is that? I mean, that is not true. “Well, there was some science on it.” Yeah, well relook at that science. How many people did they study? You’re telling me the whole world can change a habit in 21 days? No, that’s not possible. So, look, we’ve been sold a line of bull-do when we say, “This is how it is, change in 21 days.” What happens if the person was just about to change in 22 days?
I mean, I just don’t like putting hardcore rules around that. We all are different. We’re all different. There’s so many contributing factors to habit changes. Do you live with a smoker? How are you going to stop? When you’re living with a smoker. You’re living with somebody who’s a chocoholic–you want to try to lessen sweets. He’s a grown ass man. He’s like, “I’m having chocolate in this house if I want it.” That now becomes a conflict. What are you supposed to do? Listen, I mean, he is grown. He could have chocolate, that’s your problem that you can’t have it. I’m just saying it’s so much more complicated than buying a book that says, “In 21 days, we could all change.” Bull-do.
So when we listen to that, though, we feel less than. “Well, I couldn’t change in 21 days, I’m not for change.” Do you see why I get so upset about these things? Everybody’s different. You may take a little bit longer. No, you’re going to not reach your goal all the time. That’s okay. You just dust yourself up and you keep on trucking. And you keep working. And like you said, Molly, you keep progressing. That’s what this is about. Practicing, progressing, getting better, falling back, and getting back up, falling back again, keep on going. That’s what this is. And that’s why we call it a practice.
Nobody here is ever going to be perfect. I’m not perfect at that lifestyle. Some days, I don’t drink enough or whatever. I didn’t meet my goals. I scan my brain what was I not stellar on today? Let me make sure I get back at it tomorrow. When we’re conscious and mindful of where we are every day, then we can get back the next day. And you don’t form a stone or gain 25 pounds overnight. So if you are always practicing and staying on track as best as you can–knowing when you falter, getting back on track, you pretty much stay the same. That means no new stones, the ones you have don’t grow and your weight is maintained. Duh, dah, dah, dah, that’s all folks!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I think that’s wonderful. I mean that it’s wonderful advice. All of this is so challenging, but it’s day-by-day, step-by-step. So, thank you again, Molly, for calling. That number again is 773-789-8763. If you have a question and want to be featured on a future episode. But yeah, I think that’ll do it for this week. I think we will wrap there. If you want to dive deeper, head over to kidneystonediet.com, where you can find the Kidney Stone Diet prevention course, you can find the meal plans, you can find the email newsletter, you can find the Facebook group. Just everything is there at that one-stop shop if you will to find everything you need.
Jill Harris: Thanks, Molly, so much!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, thank you for your call. Thank you everyone for listening and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Bye, Jeff!
Jeff Sarris: See ya!