Patients ask me every day what they can do to reduce their risk of kidney stones. Here is a list of 5 things you must do if you want to prevent new stones.
Learn WHY You Are Forming Kidney Stones
Stone analysis, blood, and 24-hour urine tests are key to finding out why you are making kidney stones. They give your doctor information necessary to create a treatment plan for you, including dietary and fluid changes and/or medication.
Your doctor doesn’t put you on a blood pressure medication without checking your blood pressure. Why would your kidney stone doctor prescribe a treatment plan without first testing your urine?
If you passed a stone or had it removed, ask your doctor to find out exactly what type of stone it was by sending it off to be analyzed. A fasting blood test during the collection should be done to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing your stones. Information from all these tests will guide your doctor in creating your treatment plan.
Be Involved In Your Kidney Stone Prevention Plan
After you get the results from your urine collection, go over all test results with your doctor. Ask what the values mean and what the best course of treatment should be to lower your risk of making new stones.
If your doc wants to put you on meds, talk to him/her about first trying dietary changes to improve your lab values and then if that does not work, going on meds. Even if you have to use medication, you might be able to get effective treatment using a lower dose than if you had not made the dietary changes.
This is important and something most people wish they had known beforehand. Also, ALWAYS ask for your own copy of the test results. They are yours; you paid for them and you might want to refer to them at some future time.
Make A Commitment To Reduce Your Kidney Stone Risk
Now that you know what to do, make a commitment to adhere to your treatment plan. It is not easy to make all these dietary changes.
- Learn how to read labels and consistently read them.
- Know your personal goals for sodium, fluids, oxalate, calcium, and the dietary requirements for any other medical conditions you have.
By following the guidelines in the Kidney Stone Prevention Course you should not only greatly reduce your kidney stone risk but also see a lowering of high blood pressure.
After you change your diet and fluid intake, make sure you ask your doctor to order a follow-up urine collection so you can see if your dietary changes are having the effect needed to lessen your stone risk. Many patients skip this step and go on to produce new stones. Without a follow-up urine collection you will not know if your dietary changes are sufficient to decrease new stone risk.
Meal And Snack Planning Are Key
In all my years helping people incorporate dietary changes, I have found that those who are prepared on a daily basis are most likely to be successful.
Pre-making meals is a pain in the tush (I am not dancing and laughing when I am pre-making food for the week I can assure you), but doing it greatly reduces your odds of eating unhealthy lunches or dinners. And you feel so much better once you are done cooking (no one ever says, “darn, I wish I didn’t pre-make my food for the week”).
Give up binge-watching your favorite show just one night to prepare healthy food that will get you some dinners and a couple of lunches. Plan what you will have for lunch each day so you’re not running out to Chipotle or Subway at the last minute (too high in sodium).
Pre-make tuna salad, egg salad, etc to bring for lunch. Boil up some eggs for snacks. Cut up veggies and fruit for snacks. Pack your lunch when you’re packing your kids lunches. Tell Suzie in the office to get rid of that M and M jar or walk a different route to the bathroom so you don’t see Suzie’s tempting M and M jar.
In the car a lot during the day? Bypass the drive-through and bring a small cooler or insulated lunch bag to store your treats. Popcorn, yogurt, pears, bananas, apples, grapes, low salt Triscuits, hummus and veggies, a normal portion of pistachio nuts (yes, you heard me), hard boiled eggs, low sodium cottage cheese. These are also great options to keep at your desk when you are bored and looking for a healthy snack.
Being prepared will help you feel in control and better able to make healthy choices. It is a perpetual cycle just like when you make unhealthy choices, you tend to keep making them. Get off that roller coaster and stay in control by making a plan for the week!
You Need To Stay Accountable
You have your plan, you know what to do and how to do it. Great. How are you going to keep up with your plan and really incorporate it into your life?
What Dr. Coe and I teach is NOT about going on a diet; it is about creating a lifestyle that you truly love.
What are you going to do when the holidays come, your birthday, a vacation, when you get sick? How will you stay on track or minimize the length of time you fall off the wagon?
Remember, a healthy lifestyle is NOT about perfection. If you think that I don’t have a glass of wine or some chocolate here and there you are mistaken. This girl here has gotta live! Deprivation always leads to temptation, and this is precisely why diets do not work.
If you crave something, by all means, have a little and then get right back on track. The point is not that you had a treat, but that you had a treat and you enjoyed it. Then pick something healthy for your next meal or snack.
You may be thinking easier said than done.
For this reason I created The Accountability Group, to help you stay committed to these lifestyle changes.
The first step is to get the education you need from the Kidney Stone Prevention Course. Then join the Accountability Group. We meet by phone for 6 months, 5 days a week. I will get you through the holidays, birthdays, vacations, follow-up doctor visits, and business travel. Knowing you will be checking in on a regular basis not only sets you up for success, but keeps you motivated and, well, accountable! And we have a ball doing it too!