You know you are being put on a restrictive diet when you are almost 5 months pregnant and your doctor tells you that you can't have chocolate for the rest of your pregnancy! Really?? You are going to tell a pregnant girl she can't have CHOCOLATE??! Well, yes... along with a bunch of other random stuff! Since we found out my kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate (because what everyone wants to do is stroll into the doctor's office with one of their own kidney stones in a sandwich bag... it's about as awesome as sitting in a waiting room full of people carrying an enormous jug full of 24 hours worth of your own pee... did that on Monday... boy have the past few weeks been extra fun!)... but I digress... at least we know what my stones are made of, so I'm now on a low oxalate diet.
Up until a few weeks ago, I had no clue what oxalates were. Turns out they are naturally occurring in lots of fruits and vegetables, so a low oxalate diet is kind of weird. There are a lot of healthy things that I can't eat... like whole grains, legumes, spinach, potatoes and sweet potatoes just to name a few. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that I can eat, however, so it's just a matter of getting used to some new standards. Oh, ya, and chocolate. It's loaded with oxalates. Of course.
So, the low oxalate thing is a little tricky just trying to come up with meals that don't contain anything on my forbidden list... but it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't also coupled with being told I need to be on a very low sodium diet. Hmmm. Okay. What's low you ask? I need to stay around 1500 mg of sodium per day. The recommended daily allowance is 2000 and I would hazard a guess that the average person eats between 3000 and 4000 mg per day... easily! There is sodium in everything! I had no clue just how many foods contained sodium and how much!!! Good grief! So, that knocked a bunch of foods off my list that are low in oxalates... because I have to really watch my sodium.
And last, but not least, I have to reduce the amount of meat that I eat. I can't have more than one serving of meat per day. Alright, so... in addition to the low oxalate, low sodium, reduced meat diet, I have to also make sure I'm meeting my caloric needs for being pregnant and making sure I'm getting enough protein during the day. This would be easier if all the plant based proteins weren't on the HIGH OXALATE LIST! (yes, I'm yelling now!) It's been like one giant jigsaw puzzle! Slightly maddening, but a good challenge.
I'm slowly working out meals that I can eat. I also ordered a low oxalate cook book that came today and looks awesome! So, I'm slowly getting where I need to be. I think the hardest part about all of this is that I feel like I can't eat out at all. Any meal that I could get at a restaurant will have way more sodium than I can fit into the confines of my 1500 mg allowance. It's weird to think that for the next four and a half months, if I want to eat, I need to cook it myself (or have my husband cook it for me... tee hee) but if we are both tired and want to order a pizza, we can't do that. Sigh.
So, where is the upside you might ask? Well, the number one big thing that BETTER be the upside is that I will hopefully be preventing myself from secreting oxalate in my urine and thus not form any more large stones, or make that 6 mm one that's already there any bigger. But some other nice little bonuses have been losing weight ... which I know is not recommended during pregnancy, but I was overweight to start and my doctor is well aware that this will be a side effect and the baby is growing just fine and will continue to be monitored. Also, my blood pressure has dropped. It was always normal, but now it's fantastic! I couldn't believe how fast that happened after reducing my sodium intake. And it's also going to save us money on eating out. I ate out more than I should have anyway, so this is forcing me to plan ahead a lot more and start developing some better habits.
Oh, ya, and my cookbook says I can have white chocolate!!! :-) That might become my new indulgence!