If you’ve seen any of the pages on this site, you’ve probably seen me mention the Trying Low Oxalates (TLO) Yahoo group. It’s no mistake that I mention it on almost every page, because I truly believe it’s the best possible group to belong to if you’re want to learn about the low oxalate diet. But maybe you already belong to too many groups, had trouble figuring out how to join, or are putting off joining for some other reason. Well read on to find out the huge advantages it can confer upon you in your low oxalate journey, as well as the steps for joining!
The Food List
The single most important reason to join the TLO group is the food list. Bar none. If you do nothing but join to download the food list, you will be miles ahead of anyone who does not.
Simply put, there is a plethora of incorrect information about the oxalate content of different foods out there. And while a great deal of this misinformation can be found on the internet, I’m also referring to well-respected media such as books and cookbooks as well.
For example, the book No More Kidney Stones, which was published in 2006, happily claims that “white potatoes are oxalate-free” (page 157), while saying one should avoid “pies made with pecans, pumpkin or cranberries.” Thanks to the extensive testing done for the TLO food list, however, we now know that almost all potatoes are high in oxalates, and that both pumpkin and cranberries are relatively innocuous in terms of their oxalate content (pecans are good to avoid, as are the flour-based crusts of pies). It makes me feel bad for the poor folks who likely bought this book and have been following it to the letter, only to be rewarded with further kidney stone formation!
Now, I’m not bashing the authors of that book; they were undoubtedly working with the best information available to them at the time. But the reality is that there is always room for improvement in any food list. The great news is that the Trying Low Oxalates list is one of the few that actually is being updated and improved on an ongoing basis.
Advice and Camaraderie
Have you ever tried to adopt a new diet in a house full of people who eat “normally?” If not, count yourself lucky! I’ve been faced with that challenge in various forms over a large percentage of my life, and I can tell you it’s no picnic! My husband sometimes thinks I’m speaking another language when I talk about oxalates, gluten, and other food substances he’s never had to worry about. Other times he just thinks I’m crazy. That’s one of the reasons the TLO group is such a sanity-saver. It’s a group of people who are in the same boat you are, and who speak the same language.
Now, if you’re just starting out, you might need a hand with that lingo; that’s why I created this glossary. Once you’ve read a couple weeks’ worth of messages, though, you’ll start feeling like an old hat at the terminology used. If you’ve done other biomedical diets or interventions, chances are good you’ll find them mentioned on the TLO group as well; many folks are gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, and there are even some Paleo folks and vegans thrown in for good measure.
And the advice! My absolute favorite thing about the TLO group is the fact that I can throw out a question about a new symptom or theory, and get back a half-dozen responses (or more). I also can’t count the times a distressed Mom, new to the LOD, has come to the group fearing for her child’s health because of dumping or some other effect of oxalates. The responses these people get are always helpful and reassuring, because like any group forging a new path, we know we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have.
Another awesome resource available to members is the recipe database. One member, Karla, is the mistress of the low oxalate recipe. She has been gracing the group with new crops of recipes on a near-weekly basis for longer than I’ve been a member. Of course, many others also share recipes on the group, complete with oxalate content on a per-serving basis, so you can tell at a glance how the food will fit into your eating plan.
If you need to accommodate more than just low oxalate, never fear! As mentioned above, our members are familiar with almost every other specialty diet out there, and there are recipes geared toward almost every dietary combination and permutation imaginable.
Did I Mention it’s Free?
That’s right, in an age where almost everything costs dearly (and money is harder to come by than ever), the Trying Low Oxalates group with all its numerous benefits is 100% free! So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
If you’re still reading, I can only assume it’s because you’ve been patiently waiting for instructions on how to sign up. Wait no more!
Step 1: Do you have a Yahoo account? If so, just click here to be taken directly to the TLO group home page, and skip to Step 2. If not, simply click here, and fill in the registration form. You will be creating a Yahoo email address for yourself in this step, but you needn’t worry about checking yet another email inbox; once you’re signed up, you can have group messages sent to any email you prefer, or choose to just read them on the group website.
Step 2: Sign in to Yahoo. If you are already signed in, you can simply proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Click the “Join this Group” button, as shown in the screenshot below (note: the big red arrow is my addition; it won’t be there on the page you see!)
Step 4: Fill out the brief form to join the group; as of this writing, this involves selecting the email address you’d like shown on the posts you make to the group, and a comment to the group owner to let her know why you want to join. You’ll also have the opportunity to select how you’d like to receive your message delivery. I’d suggest going with Individual Email to start. This will let you get a feel for the activity level of the group, as well as the breadth of questions asked. You can always edit your settings later if you so desire. There’s also a selection for message style; to be honest I don’t know the difference between “fully featured” and “traditional,” but since photos are never sent as attachments, the messages only consist of text, so it’s unlikely you’ll miss out on anything no matter which you choose.
Then you can fill in the Captcha (the code thingy with strange looking numbers and letters to verify you’re not a spambot), click “Join,” and sit back and relax! Most applications are approved within 24-48 hours.
Step 5: Once approved, drop us a line and say hello! Also make sure to download the most recent food list. This file can be found in both PDF and Excel format. Once you’re a member, you can use this link to go directly to the files section where it’s housed. I can’t tell you what the file name will be, as it’s updated fairly often, but it should be pretty obvious once you’re there. In addition, make sure to read the important “Please read” Word file that’s housed in the same directory.
That’s it! Of course, if you have any questions or need further help with the above process, by all means leave me a comment below. I’m always game for improving my tutorials so that everyone finds them useful.