13 January 2011

The Great Health Manifesto


I did something really, really stupid.


Really. Stupid.


I was enjoying life as a vegetarian, saving the lives of innocent little animals and feeling like I was doing something good for my body. However, in the middle of finding myself back up to the weight I was at while at SBU in 2001 – no surprise since I’m back in school, sitting on my butt all day and stress-eating bags of sunchips and diet coke – and I had a moment of desperation. I know better. So what in the world was I thinking when I made this decision?


In a moment of pure insanity and desperation, I did something evil. Something really, really bad. I don’t even want to admit it. I’m embarrassed beyond anything.


I’m so ashamed about this...this awful, stupid decision to...ugh.


Fine. I’ll admit it.


I low-carbed it.


Ugh. Yes, that’s right. It was wonderful and disgusting all at the same time. I was dropping weight, but that was probably because I was sick to my stomach every time a fleshy piece of chicken or muscle-y piece of steak crossed my lips. The cheese – oh man. I could live on cheese alone. That part was wonderful. And salads and roasted veggies...that was all good.


But the meat. Oh, just the thought of it right now makes me want to throw up.


And now I find out that all that stupidity might be the reason why I got kidney stones again.


The ER doctor recommended that I talk with a dietician since this is my second time with the stones – the first time was on my honeymoon – and interestingly enough, I was on the low-carb wagon then too.


Hmmmm. There might be a connection here.


These stats kind of shocked me:


·         The younger a person is when they have their first kidney stone (I was 22) greatly increases the risk of having additional attacks. Peak stone formation is between the ages of 35-50.

·         There is an 80% chance of recurring stones ones a person suffers their first stone. There is a cumulative 10% chance each year (ex: 5 years = 50%).

·         60% of people who have experienced one kidney stone will likely develop another within seven years.


Guess what? Yep. It’s been seven years since my first stone.




So what did the dietician say?


First of all, she told me to knock off the low-carb mentality. Quick weight loss doesn’t equal healthy weight loss. Quick weight loss usually equals weight quickly coming back on. Which I know. I KNOW. I know that there are good carbs, good fats...I know the drill. I just don’t listen to myself very much, and I search for the next quick weight-loss option within my reach.


And look where it gets me.


Ugh. Fine. FINE. I surrender. I’m done.


We’ll do this the dietician’s way.


Here’s some info from my doctor, the dietician I talked to today, the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.


I like lots of sources.


So first of all, what are kidney stones?


Kidney stones form when there is a change in the normal balance of water, minerals, and other things found in urine. This can happen if you do not get enough fluids or if you eat too much of certain kinds of food, such as animal protein (!!!!). And, like previously mentioned, if you had kidney stones before, you are more likely to get them again.


My dietician said that by following the eating plan she suggests, I may be able to prevent new kidney stones. Here’s what she went over with me:


· It’s a common myth that a diet high in calcium contributes to kidney stones. Eat a moderate or high amount of calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese. The calcium in the food you eat doesn't have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, though, as these have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.


· Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in animal protein. This includes beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs. These foods contain a lot of protein, and too much protein may lead to kidney stones (No more low-carb stupid dieting for me!!). Choose non-animal protein sources, such as soy and legumes.


· Getting your recommended amounts of calcium, combined with a diet low in sodium and protein, may actually decrease your risk of kidney stones. (So, to summarize, increase calcium, decrease sodium and animal protein.)


· The number one way to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. The most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough fluids, especially water. Avoid tea, dark colas and limit coffee intake. (Um, crap. That might be a problem. I still haven’t found a way to break my four-cups-of-coffee-in-the-morning-and-diet-coke-afternoon-pick-me-up habit yet.)


· Avoid grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice not only contributes to the formation of kidney stones, but it interacts with many medications as well. (True. Grapefruit juice and birth control do not mix.)


· Talk to your doctor if you take vitamins or supplements. He or she may want you to limit how much fish oil or calcium supplements you take. Also, do not take more than the recommended daily dose of vitamins C and D.


·  Increase how much fiber you eat. Fiber includes oat bran, beans, whole wheat breads, wheat cereals, etc.


·  Avoid pre-packaged foods that contain added sugars.


·  Avoid foods that are high in oxalate, such as dark leafy green vegetables, berries, nuts, and chocolate (!!!).  (Seriously? No more spinach?? What in the world??)


·  Try not to add salt when you cook or eat. Remove the salt shaker from your table, avoid eating canned soups, microwave meals and packaged foods that are high in sodium and limit fast-food intake.


So, that’s what the dietician and I talked about, and WebMD and the Mayo Clinic concur.


On one hand, it’s a great excuse to tell M that I’m not eating meat again.


On the other...life without chocolate? Even life with chocolate in limited amounts?  


But I’m willing to try anything at this point. I cannot even describe how painful this is...I do not want this to come back. I’ll do anything to prevent that from happening.


Anything. I’m miserable right now.


And just to clarify – the kidney stone prevention diet isn’t necessarily a weight-loss diet. It’s a “get your body back to its optimal health” diet – something I apparently need right now. We’ll worry about weight loss later. Right now I just need to focus on being healthy.


“To insure good health: Eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness and maintain an interest in life.” ~ William Londen

1 comment:

Momma said...

Well, you once again crack me up! through my life I have found the foods that make me feel better and make me feel worse. And I go up and down about how much I eat of each. Sugars, caffeine and alcohol are my cuplrits. We all are in charge of our own health. Hats off to you. Nurse, heal thyself! love you!