This week Jill answers a listener question about sugar.
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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 stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris, and I am laughing because, Jill, you have that smirk. I can see it.
Jill Harris: Okay, wait, and I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. Let me tell you what. So for people that are just listening, you can’t see us, so it’s annoying. I say go on YouTube, but you do you feel like Spotify or Apple tunes or whatever the hell it is. But what I’m doing is I’m fixing my collar and I know my mother watches this, okay? So, I know I can hear her screaming at the phone sometimes, “Jill, the collar! Fix it!” or “What are you doing? No cares about your collar. Look at her. Look at her, honey. She’s fixin’ her collar!” She talks to my stepfather, Mickey–he might as well be my dad at this point, after all these years, but I’m just saying, I hear her in my head all the time, and I laugh to myself. Because I hear her and she makes me laugh and she ain’t even here. How’s that for what I was thinking?
Jeff Sarris: We’ve talked about that. One day, I could definitely see both of you there on that end, that would be a riot I think.
Jill Harris: I’m gonna have to shoot the show by my mother’s house because, first of all, she don’t drive and chain coming by me. That’s fact. But, believe me, Jeff, you would have your hands full. Let’s just say the nut don’t fall far from the tree. Let’s put it that way.
Jeff Sarris: Nice, so this week, we are going to dive into another listener question. And let me just fire that up right now.
Jill Harris: Fire it up, baby. Let’s go!
Listener Voicemail: Hi, there. This is Katie and I’m calling from Richmond, Virginia. I first want to say I love, love, love what you’re doing. When I had my first kidney stone about eight years ago, multiple urologists told me that there was no dietary connection to speak of, and the only advice they gave me was to drink more water and they knew they were wrong. I was able to make a couple of changes of my own, but now, learning so much more from you has just been wonderful. So thank you.
My question is about sugar. I make calcium oxalate stones and I understand why it’s necessary to cut out salts or cut back salt, but I know that cutting out or cutting back on sugar is a big part of the Kidney Stone Diet. So I’m just curious as to the science behind that and, also, what those of us who might have a little bit of a problem, a sweet tooth. Any advice for how we can cut back on the sugar would be greatly appreciated. So, in particular, for me, that means dessert. So, alright, well once again thank you. Bye-bye.
Jill Harris: Lots of things: first of all, Katie, I’m so happy. I’m twirling in my chair. I sure am. I’m gonna tell you why. A couple things: first of all, I love the name Katie. It’s one of my favorites. That, Katie, Angie, love Angela, love all that. So Katie’s talking about that she’s a sweetie, as I like to call them. Some people are crunchy girls. That’s me. Some people are salty girls. I don’t even care about crunch. I don’t care about salt at all as long as I can make a lot of noise. You know, while I eat, people, I like making a lot of noise. Ask my sister. She’s always annoyed by me, but I love crunchy things. And some people are sweeties.
So, first of all, the science in my own words–Dr. Coe is always like, “Really? That’s how you’re going to describe it?” But nobody understands what he’s saying half the time. So, I like to put it in my own terms. Super easy. Sugar acts like salt in a lot of cases as far as our body is concerned. Meaning, salt and sugar, too much of it, will pull calcium out of your bone and dump the excess into your urine. When we have excess calcium in our urine, that’s where phosphate and oxalate like to find it and connect to it to form these stones.
First, Let’s Talk About Added Sugar
So, when we’re talking about sugar, we are talking about added sugar. Added sugar. “What’s added sugar, Jill? Does an apple have added sugar?” No. If the food was born with sugar, like an apple, if it was born with sugar, baby, it was born that way. So that is not added sugar. But if you see something that–first of all, the nutrition label, turn it around, Buster Brown. Don’t be just looking at the front of the package, it tells you all kinds of bulldew. Turn it around, look at your ingredients, look at your nutritional label, look under sugar. Underneath sugar, they will parse out how much added sugar is in the product. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Katie, I love you and I love your question. Here’s where it gets tricky and I’ll get some hate mail on this. So be it. It makes it fun.
Sometimes you’re going to see a product that–I’m falling blank as far as what product it could be. Say it’s just a product and it says zero added sugar. It will say total sugars 15. Underneath added, zero. Added sugar, zero. But if you look in the ingredient list, you may see things like honey, molasses, things like that. You would think if you didn’t look at the ingredients that there’s zero added sugar in there. But that food that you’re looking at was not born–it was born without the honey, so it had to be added for sweetness. So we would buy it. So the company would make money. Because if it don’t taste good, we ain’t buy in the product, and, therefore, that company doesn’t make money, okay? So that’s how it all goes.
Now you may say, “Well, Jill, honey as you say is born with sugar. Therefore it’s not added.” But once you take honey, and then put it into a product, it becomes added sugar. It just does. And this was so confusing that the FDA actually had to have a special law for this. And they had to tell the nutrition label people or the food manufacturers, “Listen, we know that honey was born with sugar in it. Therefore, it is naturally occurring sugar. But when you take that and put it in a product, that product now has added sugar.” So we count that. Does that mean it’s bad for you, honey?
No, but what people do is they say, “Oh, look at this. It’s a natural sugar. Therefore, I can eat as much as I want all day long.” Well, notice a diabetic ain’t eatin’ honey all day long. It’s still sugar, people. So you may say Katie’s thinking right now, “Jill, I didn’t ask about all this. What the hell are you talking about?” It’s important that when somebody asks a question that we talk about it in its entirety as much as we can in a 15-20 minute video. So I really like to pack it in.
How Much Added Sugar Can Men and Women Have Per Day?
So here’s the deal: added sugar for women 25 grams of added sugar a day. If you eat an apple, we’re not counting that. If you’re having a candy bar, that’s added sugar. Probably your whole day’s worth right there. For men, you get 37.5 grams of added sugar. I’m generous! I give you 38, just to get decimal points away. Nobody wants to look at ugly decimal points. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. The American Heart Association says this, we kidney stone people say this. This is what it should be. America says that. That’s what it should be. It just happens to fit in our Kidney Stone Diet goals, too, so we’re not making these up. The less sugar you eat–the less added sugar you eat–the more you will pee.
We all know that when we eat too much salt, our dungarees don’t fit no more. Yeah, I’m that old. I said that, too! Dungarees jeans, whatever, pants. What a lot of people don’t understand is that when we eat too much sugar–added sugar–we also won’t pee as much. We will bloat up. Added sugar has the same effect. Added sugar has the same effect as sodium that way, so it’s very important. This is why the heart people want us to eat less added sugar as well. So your heart doesn’t have to excess pump this stuff, okay? So it’s very, very important. Added sugar will increase urine calcium, and will also have you pee less. Some people talk to me and they’re like, “Jill, I don’t know what the hell’s going on. I drink like a fish ain’t nothing coming out of me.” Because you’re eating too much salt and added sugar. That’s why. So your body keeps it in–the excess water.
But Don’t Go Eating Ten Apples or 27 Bananas…
That’s why if you go on a low-sugar diet, you’ll lose weight like this, real fast. You’ll eventually stabilize, but you will lose weight quickly because you’re getting rid of excess water. Again, we know this happens with salt, but it also happens with sugar, so it’s interesting. I want to say this, because people will take my words and do something else with them. “She said no added sugar, gene. Get get me 10 apples right now. Ten apples that’s what I’m going to have, or 10 pears.” That doesn’t mean that you should eat as much fruit as you want, either, okay? Because, again, if you’re a diabetic, you still have to watch your overall sugars.
So, I think it’s, you know, as far as vegetables and fruit go five servings a day. So I typically have two servings of fruit a day, that’s minimum, maybe I’ll have some fruit in a smoothie and then I eat a lot of vegetables throughout the day. So, I just want to say that doesn’t mean you can eat 27 bananas because there’s still a lot of sugar in fruit. You want to choose fruit that has higher fiber so you can counteract the sugar even though it’s not added. You still want to watch your total sugars all day. You don’t want to be eating, you know, 20 pieces of fruit. Is that clear, Jeff?
How Can Someone Cut Back On Their Desserts?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it absolutely is because that is a conclusion someone should draw. Because like, “Oh, this isn’t added, so it’s free rein.” But that’s not really how it goes. So, when it comes to–Katie mentioned she’s also a dessert connoisseur maybe, but how do you sort of recommend someone who really like loves their desserts and sweets? And how do we start to cut back there?
Jill Harris: Well, we do exactly what you just said. We start cutting back. I am not a believer of cutting out, except spinach and almonds as we know. So, I’m not a believer of cutting out. If I told beautiful Katie, “Look, Katie, no more. No more for you. You like desserts? They’re off the menu.” She’d be like, “You know what, Jill? I’m shutting you off right now.” Look, she’s telling me, she’s being honest. When I deal with patients, or my students in the Kidney Stone Prevention course, I tell them this. You tell me what you really need, I’m going to give it to you. But then I’m going to ask some things from you, too. I don’t give away free without wanting to take something, too. So, this is what I would do for Katie, if I were working with her. Katie tells me she likes dessert. Alright, sister, I hear you. Who the hell doesn’t like dessert? But instead of having that bigger, whatever it is, I’m going to ask you to have less of it. “Oh, okay, Jill, but if I have a little, I’m going to want more.”
Then, that cannot come in your house. Find desserts that make you happy, but not so happy that your hand doesn’t keep going in that bag or box, okay? So, when you eat less of a salty food or a sweet food, you will desire less. Will you desire it no more? No, you’re always gonna have cravings, but you will crave less. And let me tell you what, Katie, when you start feeling better, you didn’t tell me if you would also like to lose some weight. So, say Katie is somebody that also would like to lose some weight when she starts seeing some pounds come off as well, those are motivating things to keep people on track. Please know this: too much sugar in your diet can increase your risk for strokes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, kidney stones, bone loss, obesity, hypertension, all of those things.
So, the next time that any of you are like going for your tenth Cookie, think about that. Again, I’m not saying that this is easy. And I’m also not telling Katie she can never have dessert again, but I want her to eat less sugar. If she can do less sugar, she will be so much better off. So, Katie, how you start this is you started. You eat. You want to have your dessert if that ends your meal every night, if that’s the end of your eating and it doesn’t–let’s just say this. Let me try to get my thoughts together. Sometimes, and I’m this kind of person, I like a little sweet thing after I eat. That also ends the rest of my eating for the night, okay? So, I will cap it off with whatever it is. There are things you can eat that have less calories and less sugar.
I will eat no sugar popsicles. They are delicious to me. I have three of them. That is 75 calories, three popsicles. No added sugar. Sometimes, believe it or not, I’ll have a no added sugar fudgicle. Is it chocolate? Does it have oxalate? Yes, but I get my calcium throughout the day, so I don’t worry about it. So, usually it’s those two things because I like something cold in my mouth because I’m screaming all day long. So those make me happy. Also, choose things that make you happy, so you are then satisfied. If you’re not satisfied, you’re going to keep going back in the kitchen every night, people, and that’s what you want to stop doing. So, pick something that makes you happy–not so much that you keep going back to it–and limit the quantity you’re having. Sometimes, pick fruit instead of cake.
Does that mean you’re giggling and laughing and happy that you picked a pear instead of cake? No, but you’re going to feel better afterwards. And, again, we’re chasing outcomes. If you have a pear, instead of five cookies after dinner, you’re going to feel good about yourself. Plus, the fiber in the pear, about four grams, is going to keep you more satisfied. Sometimes, though, we need to feel emotionally satisfied and a pear ain’t it! So, you pick something else. You’re going to have those nights. I don’t care about that. Remember–because Katie may be like, “Alright, I had some cookies. Now I screwed up. What the hell? I might as well just keep on going.” No. The faster you get back to your healthy lifestyle, the better off you’ll be. Nobody gains 25 pounds, nor kidney stone with one meal or one dessert. Get back on track.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I think that’s wonderful advice because that’s the whole thing. It’s just what are we doing next? We can’t beat ourselves up for like what we just ate.
Jill Harris: Right. And I’m always saying, “Look, we’re supposed to be nourishing this machine of ours–our body.” And I call it a machine because women typically–I hate to stereotype, but this is what women tell me all day long, “Jill, I can’t believe it. I had that chip. I’m terrible. I can’t believe it. So I felt so bad, I kept eating all night long because what’s the point?” There’s always a point. There’s always the reason to get back on track. What the hell is one chip, people? Who cares about that? And, again, of course, nobody’s getting a bag to have one chip. You’re eating half a bag. That’s what people do, but if you can just control yourself with the portion size–and if you cannot, don’t bring that food in your house. There’s plenty of foods I don’t bring in this house because even I could not control my portion size. So, the point is always getting back on track right away. You’ll feel better about yourself. The more you eat, the more you feel bad about yourself. We know this about ourselves. Let’s break that vicious cycle, please.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely! So I think that’s a great spot to wrap. If you’re enjoying the show, be sure to subscribe on on YouTube and give a little thumbs up and leave a comment below because that really goes a long way in helping us reach more people. If you have a question that you would like Jill to answer in a future episode, the number is 773-789-8763 and we will get you featured in the future. I think that was great. So, if you want to dive deeper, too, also head over to kidneystonediet.com and check out the Kidney Stone Prevention course and sign up for the newsletter and everything else that we have going on. There’s so much free content and premium stuff, but all of it is there just to help you on your journey. So, I think they’ll do for this week. We will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Bye, everybody. And thank you, Katie. Excellent question and good luck! Let us know how you’re doing with being a sweetie. Bye!