Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Change your diet

Imagine this scenario. You're in your doctor's office and he hands you a sheet of paper with two lists of food on it. "These foods on the left are things you should avoid or reduce to help with your condition," he says, then adds, "and these on the right are things you should increase or add to your diet."

Without knowing anything else, what items are on the list?

If you've been to doctors a lot, you are probably thinking the same things as me. The left side says fats and fried foods, sweets, red meat, baked goods, salt, sugar, alcohol, coffee, soda, and maybe a few other things. The right side is mostly about vegetables (especially the leafy and bitter-flavored ones) and possibly fruit and fish. And this is true no matter what the condition is. Any specific condition might add one or two other things to one side or the other, but almost anything you have to talk to a doctor about will include that same list.

So imagine the pleasantness of my surprise when I got what may be one of the only exceptions in the history of medicine. If you form calcium oxalate kidney stones, the list of things to avoid includes nothing about meats, sweets, or fats. Instead, it includes a long list of vegetables including kale (eat less kale!), swiss chard, eggplant, spinach, squash, watercress, and collard greens. Well, gee, Mr. Doctor, if you really insist, I guess I could lay off the okra a bit. After all, health is very important.

The list also includes some things I like, including a number of fruits and berries, but almost nothing that makes me sad to contemplate losing. Of course, I still have to do the urine test and then get specific recommendations. Somehow, I'm sure it'll all turn out to be about cookies and spicy food eventually, but at least for now, I just have to ease up on the rutabaga. Oh, whatever will I do!

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