Playing Red Light / Green Light … again

Who knew that this childhood game would make a comeback for me? But it has, and this time there’s no getting out of it. See, I now have a nifty list of Green Light foods–those are the ones I can eat without concern–and Yellow and Red Light foods, too. The latter are what most of us eat all the time.

This is 10 milimeters. Yikes!

This is 10 mm, almost the size of one of my kidney stones. Yikes!

But the kidney stones are back. Bah, humbug, right? Meaning that my moderate approach to lowering my oxalate consumption hasn’t worked so well. So it’s time to hunker down and play the Green Light game. The stakes are high. And I get to be “it” all the time.

You know what, I felt deprived when I (voluntarily) quit eating wheat three years ago. But I have proven to myself that I can do without foods I love. When I see cake or scones or bagels or sourdough bread, they no longer register as edible. Well, most of the time. Now the list is longer.

I also have a powerful visual to help with motivation. See the cube I’m holding in the photo? It’s a math manipulative  left over from home school days, a cubic centimeter. It sits innocently on the window sill in the kitchen, like a talisman or something. A realistic reminder of the 8 mm stone in my right kidney. And the upcoming surgery to remove it.

Self-discipline has been a battle for most of my life.  Eating, writing, house cleaning, you name it, I struggle with doing it. Now I drink (very strong) lemon water and eat the right foods. It’s like God’s School of Hard Knocks, Dietary Edition. I can be taught!

So, gluten-free tortilla chips … or a kidney stone? Almonds or peanuts or slices of cheese or chocolate … or a kidney stone? One glance at my cubic centimeter, and the choice is made. It’s an easy choice. And hey, I’ve already lost, like, five pounds.

How about you? Have you had to learn to do without something? Have you had to enroll in God’s School of Hard Knocks?

My Green Light Oxalate list. Wah!

My “Green Light” low oxalate list. Wah! Not much on the Carbs menu. Olives, anyone?

Laura Hile (1)

19 thoughts on “Playing Red Light / Green Light … again

  1. Crystal Thieringer

    Oh my goodness. I think that kind of visual cue would work for me too (at least I hope it would). I’ve been enrolled in my own school of hard knocks–or hard heads. It takes a bit to get my attention, but I’m pretty sure it’s been achieved. Do take care, friend. We want you to hang around. I’m raising an olive to you!

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    1. Laura Hile

      My girl, you have been in the front row seat in the Hard Knocks classroom! You take care as well, Crystal. By God’s choice we are still around, and that means our best life’s work is ahead of, and not behind, us.🙂

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  2. whitney

    “The School of Hard Knocks, Dietary Edition” – I love this! While reading your post and learning about oxalates, I reflected on my family’s similar experience with celiac disease. People would lament over how hard it must be not to eat bread and pasta and cookies. (This was back in 2006 when almost everything in the store between the meat department and the produce department contained gluten.) I remember my daughter telling a friend’s mother, “I can be healthy by changing my diet. I don’t have to take pills. I consider myself lucky.”

    I look at special diets in the same way Professor Nash managed his mental illness in “A Beautiful Mind.” He quieted the voices in his head by not acknowledging them. “Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites . . .” After 8 years on a gf diet, I no longer even look at a sour dough roll as food. If it isn’t gf, I refuse to acknowledge it.

    That said, the rest of my life is a messy reaction to all the things I don’t have a handle on. Yep. Living the dream in the School of Hard Knocks!

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    1. Laura Hile

      I’m with your daughter, Whitney. If changing the way I eat makes me well without drugs, it’s great. Once I get through the adjustment phase.

      After almost three years without wheat, I can stand alongside the lovely glass case at Starbucks–you know, the one with all the yummy bakery treats displayed–and those don’t register as edible. Well, except the scones. I won’t allow myself to look at those. I have never been good at saying “No” to food. I am thankful that I made the gluten-free decision. To have to suddenly give up bread and pizza–and cheese and most nuts and peanut butter and chocolate–would be terribly overwhelming right now.

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  3. shrinkmom

    Laura, you chose the perfect analogies, and picture, for your story. Oh, I am so sorry you are having kidney issues! This was well-written, and although a very serious issue, you took a light-hearted approach to it. You and Chuck are at the top of the class in the school of hard knocks, dietary edition!

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    1. Laura Hile

      We have to take a lighthearted approach, right? Or else whine ourselves away from every friend.🙂 Having kidney issues makes this very much easier than, say, the usual “weight loss” kind of diet. Be slim or have a cookie? I choose cookie every time!

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  4. Susan Kaye

    We are fortunate the Bill’s only gluten intolerant and does not have Celiac Disease. Even at that, certain ways of processing gluten can bother him, or not. The foods that do cause reactions now, naturally, are not go-to foods. Even when you make small changes, they make a difference.

    Just remember when you look at that cube: Resistance is futile.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Laura Hile

      You’re right. There’s no cheating body chemistry.

      Once I get the kidney stone production line shut down, I’m thinking I can occasionally have one or two Red Light foods. I just have to realize that I will need to pay for that indulgence by being good the rest of the week.

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      1. Susan Kaye

        Whether we like it or not, the body and food are one of the new religions. We are buying and selling indulgences and cheating or staying faithful. sigh

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        1. Laura Hile

          Food: immediate gratification at its finest! Indulgences? Love that.

          Most gluten-free snack stuff is very high in sugar. Sounds so healthy, yeah. Like the Fat Free Food craze of the 90’s. (Take out the fat, add lots of sugar.) We munched down on non-fat cookies and muffins and frozen yogurt … and gained weight. SIGH.

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  5. Linzé Brandon

    I have to say I can totally relate to this cube of yours. Only my ‘cube’ is starch related – any starch and sugar. I have learnt to eat the good stuff, and only ‘cheat’ with a sweet upon occasion that is dairy free (allergies). I think I too should put a ‘cube’ in my kitchen to remind me that my blood sugar issue could become a real problem if I don’t take care. Good to be reminded that taking care now, is taking care of the future too.

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    1. Laura Hile

      Linze, you are so right. It’s either pay now (eating right) or pay later (health issues). At the moment I’m working my way through the withdrawal “shrink-the-appetite” stage, since my no-wheat “coping” foods have been taken away (nuts, cheese, peanut butter, chocolate). “Taking care now is taking care of the future.” I will remember that, thanks.

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  6. Robin Helm

    I have IBS and microscopic colitis, so I live with dietary restrictions, too. Between those diseases and my diabetes, what I can eat without severe consequences is a short list. I can relate to your distress.

    Hang in there, Laura.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Antonia Malvino

    That’s a great idea to use a visual cue. I’m pre diabetic and about to plow my front lawn under and make a vegetable garden. You post inspired me. We are free to make choices and as you said, a few years later you look back and wonder why you ever ate that unhealthy food. Enjoyed your post. Good luck on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile

      A front yard garden? I think those are great!

      It’s the everyday eating that has to change.. Once my kidneys quit producing stones, I can allow myself dinner (or breakfast) out every once in a while. Pre-diabetic? Given the way we eat, I think most of us are that. Good for you for stepping up when you aren’t forced. to.🙂

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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