Kidney Class Week #13

Hello, and welcome back! Have you been following along? I missed last week because we had family in from out of state and I was at the beach. You can find all previous weeks in the archives. This Kidney Class is the property of the American Kidney Fund, for which I am a volunteer Kidney Coach. Before Covid, I would present the whole class in group sessions in person. I was given permission to share the information here on this blog with my life experience, as someone with CKD, and my nursing background. Just like I would in person. Plus, now it is always here, and anyone can read it for years to come, forever even. I encourage you to ask me questions in the comments, or if you would rather it be private you can email me at healthbuddymelissa@healthbuddymelissa

This week for slide #13 is still talking about blood pressure and kidney disease. The last class was more about how high blood pressure can cause kidney disease, whereas this week it is about how kidney disease can actually cause high blood pressure. The kidneys are complicated organs and do way more than most people realize. One of the functions of the kidneys is to regulate blood pressure by reabsorbing sodium, producing renin, and managing water in the body.

Personally, I am right at the cusp of being considered high blood pressure. This is strange because my kidneys have improved back to stage 2. However, I may be consuming more salt than I should, and I know I don’t drink enough when I am at work. That is one of the reasons I refuse to work full time is because I can’t just stop and constantly drink water. I can’t have water at my med cart in the facility I currently work, so it just is not healthy for me. I know when I am dehydrated because I will get a headache, and almost every time I work I get a headache. I also get cloudy urine, a sure sign of dehydration. If you have CKD or want to reduce your risk of getting it, keeping your blood pressure in good control is vital. I have a whole page of stuff just about blood pressure. You can read them here. There are probably others in the archives too.

Read the slide below, leave me a comment with your questions, and then check out this PubMed article on the topic of high blood pressure caused by CKD.

Only these slides are the property of AKF. All other posts on this blog, are mine unless otherwise stated.

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True Story!

Hello, and welcome to another Taste Test Tuesday! Wait, I thought this was a true story. Well, it is, sort of.

A few weeks ago, I think they came from Aldi’s, but I might have gotten them at Misfit’s Market, I bought these sweet Italian chicken sausages, from the brand True Story. Now, I have tried chicken sausages before, and no one in my family liked them, and honestly, they didn’t have a lot of flavors so there wasn’t much to love.

But, these sweet Italian chicken sausages from True Story were amazing! They look really skinny, and if you didn’t give them a chance you would be missing out. I was really impressed, and my husband even liked them and he is fussy about sausage. They are organic and with good ingredients. However, like any kind of sausage, they are still quite high in sodium and fat. But, they are still better than other sausages. We had them with spaghetti sauce, over pasta. I cooked them on the side just in case no one liked them. But, they were a hit. They are a little expensive too, but honestly worth it.

This is not a paid post, and if you follow here you know I try to do a Taste Test Tuesday every week. Since I have CKD I try to find organic, or preservative-free foods to try, as those are my preference. They have tons of other items too, so be sure and visit the True Story website where you can order them. I don’t think I have seen these in stores. I am almost positive I ordered them from Misfit’s Market and the price was reasonable. I would definitely buy these again.

I am using Itrackbytes now called the Healthi app and one link is 3 bytes.

You can see the ingredient list, and nutritional info, by clicking here.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried these, or if you will try them. What did you think of them?

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Follow and like this blog to keep updated on all of my new posts. I have lots of great posts in the archives too.

Medical Monday: Menopause!

Welcome back to another month of new Medical Monday topics. If you read here often, you know this blog is focused a lot on health coaching, and help topics, plus CKD. But, I like to talk about other topics as well and Menopause is definitely a medical and a wellness topic. Chances are very good that you are either a woman, or you know a woman. I am sure you have heard all of the stereotypes about hysterical women and Menopause. This month I will discuss Menopause and how it can affect everyone’s wellness, not just a woman.

I watched a ton of videos on Menopause last night until I found one that explains it in a sensible but educated way. The video, a TED Talk, is just a basic introduction to the topic of Menopause. Watch for future posts and how Menopause affects women and their wellbeing.

If there is a subtopic related to Menopause that you would like me to talk about, leave me a comment, and I will consider it.

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Fun Friday: St. George Island Florida

On Wednesday, so I guess that would make this a Wellness Wednesday post, lol, we visited St. George Island for the second time. We had family visiting from out of state that we have not been able to see since Covid began. I love St. George Island, and as much as I adore St. Augustine, St. George might be my new favorite.

It was extremely windy, a little chilly, and the surf was rough. We did not swim, but kind of got our ankles and knees wet. It was a great day to walk the beach, sit on the beach, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. There were maybe 10 people on the beach, and it is a huge beach. It is actually a state park, so it was only 6 dollars for the whole car to enter the park. I told my husband we really need to visit this park more often, like once a month.

Enjoy my beautiful picks and I will write again, Monday. Have an awesome weekend! We are in for some nasty weather again, tomorrow. Please respect the property of my images.

Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week #12

Hello, again, and welcome to another week of my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge. To see how this challenge has evolved from the previous weeks, please visit the archives and read. It is pretty interesting, especially how we are learning how much food we are buying that we don’t need. I have not done a shopping trip in 10 days. We had family visiting from out of state and I knew we would not be needing food, as we always eat out. They headed out right after lunch today, to get to the airport before the storms got here. I ran to the grocery stores quickly, so tomorrow I could relax before my weekend of work.

Today, I went to Winn-Dixie and Walmart. I hate going to more than one store, but it is the best way to get deals. Winn-Dixie does bogos kind of like Publix, and I do like that. Winn-Dixie had very good markdowns on meat, and I was very satisfied with that, but their creamer and frozen vegetables were much higher than Walmart. The grapes were also much higher at Winn-Dixie and I have been mostly eating bananas and apples, and I wanted grapes. I refuse to spend almost 3 dollars a pound for grapes, and they are not even organic. Walmart had the red grapes on sale for $1.68 per pound. I don’t think you can see the markdowns on the meat, but they are substantial. I don’t buy steak, or even beef, that often, but my son and his wife are coming to visit next weekend and the markdown for members was superb, so I got 2.29 pounds of certified Angus steaks for 14 dollars or something like that. The organic chicken thighs were marked down to 4 dollars and some change.

As far as pricing goes I spent just over 70 dollars at both stores. My budget is now 75 dollars per week due to how high the prices have gone. That leaves me some room if we run out of milk before I shop again, or bread. I still have not had a chance to try and make homemade sandwich bread, but I will. I noticed this time that frozen veggies have gone up quite a bit. I like to keep frozen broccoli, and a few others on hand in the freezer. WM frozen broccoli just a couple of weeks ago was .88 per bag, today it was 1.12 per bag. Snack-type foods are outrageous, as are bottled and canned drinks. I did not buy any cheese this week, because in my area they do not offer lower-fat cheeses, except mozzarella. We still have some cheese for my husband and daughter and it will easily last a week. I also did not buy lunch meat this week, as we still have tuna, and canned chicken on hand, plus some ham slices. Lunchmeat, the better quality especially, is really expensive right now. I eat tomatoes and bananas pretty much every day. That is why you see them in every single grocery haul I do. Yes, I do have CKD, but potassium is not an issue for me. Phosphorus and sodium are the ones I watch for, and preservatives. I think preservatives bother my kidneys more than my doctor thinks.

On the menu this week, well I’m not sure, lol. I have not been doing a lot of meal prep like I used to. I kind of just decide every couple of days now. We will be having some pork chops with veggies tonight. Our family brought us some awesome deli rolls from NY, and everyone is still loving them. I am on Itrackbites carb-conscious plan right now, so I have not even wanted one actually. I will make air fryer potatoes and some kind of other vegetables, maybe a salad because we have lettuce that needs to be used up. I will try to sneak in some meal prep for the weekend, tomorrow, so I don’t make bad choices for work. I will probably have tuna or chicken wraps on my 1 point Wellness wraps. It has been a rough week of eating well when we have eaten out every single day.

Check out my grocery budget haul for this week, below. Leave me a comment if you are joining in the grocery budget challenge. We have saved so much money, and we are not eating garbage food either. Remember we are a family of 3, almost all of us are adults now. Our budget is just for food for 3 people at $75 dollars per week. This is for food only, not pet food, or other items we buy, though I am frugal about that as well. If you are wondering why we always have coffee creamer, but no coffee, it is because we decided coffee is a luxury we can not go without and it is very expensive right now. It is a family treat and not included in the budget. I buy a bulk coffee from Amazon every six weeks for 24 dollars. It was very hard at first to get my family to stick to this budget, but now it is kind of routine. That does not mean, my daughter, or my husband, if they have spending money are not buying themselves junk food, but that is their money to waste. I will give my thoughts on Itrackbites in a few weeks after I have been on it for two months. I can tell you I have had good success so far.

Tomorrow, I will share some pictures from our day at the beach yesterday. It was a lovely day and I am glad we didn’t wait to go until today because the weather is nasty.

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Kidney Class Week #12

Happy Thursday! I am a day late and a dollar short again this week, lol. I guess it doesn’t matter which day I post these on, but I do try to stay consistent for my readers.

This week we are on slide #12 which has to do with HTN in relation to Kidney Disease. This slide is very self-explanatory, and if you want some videos and other information, the past two weeks also were about this topic. I have tons of posts in my archives on the topic of blood pressure, so you can browse there as well. High Blood Pressure is the #2 cause for Kidney Failure, right behind Diabetes at #1. It is imperative that you monitor your blood pressure routinely, even if you don’t have the condition. Catching and treating it early will help prevent long-term effects. I recommend you learn to take your own blood pressure with a manual cuff, or someone in your family, if you have CKD, already. If you can’t technology has improved the electronic monitors greatly. Just be sure and follow the instructions in the packet, and get a cuff size appropriate for the size of your arm. Keep a log of your blood pressure and share it with your doctor, whether you visit yearly, monthly, or weekly.

I am an AKF Kidney Coach. These slides are theirs. As a Kidney Coach I run the class, take comments, and answer questions based on their program, my experience with CKD, and my experience as a nurse. This is not medical advice nor should it be taken as such. It is informative and educational. This applies only to my Kidney Coach status with them. All other blog posts are mine and have nothing to do with AKF Kidney Coach classes.

Please leave me a comment if you have CKD, love someone who has CKD, have High Blood Pressure, or just have questions about the topic. I will answer all valid questions, and spam is deleted. If you would rather not make public comments, you can use the contact form below to send me an email and I will answer you there.

Scroll down to read this week’s slide.

Taste Test Tuesday: Quest Pizza!

Hello, and welcome back my awesome readers to one of my topics that readers seem to love, Taste Test Tuesday. With my new job and all that goes with that, I had forgotten I wanted to repeat this series every week. But, if you read my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge post yesterday, then you knew I was going to talk about this today. I will tell you at the end of the post why I ultimately chose Quest Pizza.

This Quest pizza and this is the link to the item with the ingredient and nutrition info, is quite expensive. For 2 servings it was $7.48. With that said if your family loves pizza, and maybe you are on a weight loss journey, this could be a good option for you. I didn’t even know Quest made pizzas, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them at Walmart Sunday. I like the Quest tortilla chips, and some of their protein bars, but not all. I am fussy about protein bars, anyway, so it isn’t a flaw in the Quest product. I was looking for a healthier option pizza, for both CKD and weight loss. I could not find any WW pizzas, so I opted for one of these. Before I get to the nutrition of this Quest pizza, and no I did not look at it first, except for the fiber and carb count, I want to talk about texture and taste. I am a huge texture eater. If the texture is odd, chances are I am not going to like it, or even eat it. I chose a thin crust Quest pizza, and I fully expected the crust to come out crispy. Not only is this crust not very thin, but it also does not come out crispy after baking. So, I threw it into the air fryer for 5 more minutes. The only thing that got crispy was the toppings. I was a little disappointed by the crust, but not enough not to eat it. The cheese I am not so sure about either, but it didn’t taste bad or have a strange texture. As far as taste goes, it was overall fairly bland. I am funny about pizza sauce and this one was OK. I think if I buy it again, and actually I still have half of it left, I will sprinkle on some garlic powder. Would I buy this again? Maybe.

Now as far as nutrition goes, and now I am speaking in relation to my CKD, this is probably not a great choice. Why? I threw away my box, and I can’t really make out the ingredients on the box online, but the list is fairly long. That means it probably has additives I would normally opt to avoid. Remember, there are only 4 slices to this pizza, and 2 slices are a serving size. It is very high in fat, sodium, calcium, and protein. In this regard, this is not a healthy option for CKD as most pre-packaged foods are not. Plus, I can not account for how much phosphorus is in it, but I can assume it is pretty high. It is high in fiber, and low in carbs, and I was not hungry after I ate 2 slices. This was definitely a spur-of-the-moment buy for me. I would have been much better off using one of my Wellness wraps, a little marinara sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and making my own little pizza.

So, why did I choose this particular pizza? I have not discussed weight loss at all much this year, and that is on purpose. But, I recently started following Itrackbites. It has a different name now, but I am finally coming off of my plateau and seeing results. It is similar to WW in that you get assigned a set number of points and each food item has a point value, and some are zero points, but not like WW. Anyway, I knew we would have pizza on Sunday for a quick and easy dinner. I also knew the pizza my family likes is like 13 points per slice, so I was hoping for an alternative. For the 2 slices of the Quest pizza, it was 10 points and was a much better fit for that day. That is why I chose the Quest pizza, and because I was intrigued by how it would taste.

This is not a paid post, as none of my posts are. This is my thoughts and my journey. If you would like help in your health journey email me for a free consultation.

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Week 11

Happy Monday morning! It is a chilly morning here in Florida, and I did not know it was going to be this chilly. We slept with the windows open, and the fan in the window. Brr!!! But, I slept like a baby. It was just hard to get out of a nice warm bed this morning.

I hope you have been following along with the Grocery Budget Challenge. I actually have to increase our budget from 63 dollars per week to 75 dollars per week, as everything has gone up at least a little bit, and some a lot. I can not even get our basics anymore for 63 dollars per week. That is for 3 people in my home, currently. It is still a huge saving from what we were spending before I started this challenge. Now, with that said, I obviously could cut some things out, like coffee creamer, snacks, etc. But, that is simply not realistic for us, and since this is a saving money budget, not a necessity, it is totally not going to happen. When you look at the picture below, from Walmart, the big box under the veggies is actually one of the fresh pizzas they offer. These used to be 5 dollars, yesterday it was 6. Then you will see a Quest pizza, which I didn’t even know Quest offered pizzas. Anyway, that was over 7 dollars for a small one-person pizza, but I went grocery shopping after I got out of work yesterday, and we needed something quick for dinner. I did not want to eat the other pizza, so I figured I would try one of these as it was better for me. I will post my thoughts about that pizza tomorrow, on Taste Test Tuesday, and explain why it was a better option for me. But, I totally could have saved 14 dollars on just those two items, and either just went home or added some other fresh or frozen items to my cart. The Romaine lettuce seems to be mostly cut from the image, but it is there. I try to eat a salad every day for lunch. It doesn’t always happen, but I try. I also have another healthier product I tried last week that I loved. I will share that in the coming week. That grass-fed organic ground beef was actually the same price as the non-organic variety, for the same weight. In general, if I can not fit the organic beef into my budget, I just won’t eat it. My family will, but I won’t.

This challenge started out as a pantry/budget challenge. My CKD journey has brought me back to stage 2 and I personally believe a lot of that is due to dietary changes I have made. But, I wanted to see if I could tolerate more shelf-stable, pantry, convenient type foods and still feel well. It did not take long to figure out that no I could not. So, I moved back to a more fresh food way of eating, frozen, and canned are OK, for veggies and I felt better. Organic is also best for me, but it is hard to stick to a low food budget buying all organic. Once inflation starts to recede, if it does, I will go back to the 63 dollars per week.

I can say that this budget has already taught us so much about our spending and eating habits. Plus, the fact that we waste a ton of food just because it doesn’t get eaten. I doubt we have a fear of running out of food because we were buying way more than we needed and we are still eating off that.

This week started 3 days late, so last week was 10 days in length, which is awesome. Next week we have family coming to visit from out of state that we have not seen since before Covid. So, I will not be doing a budget challenge next week as I am sure that will not work at all for 5 to 7 people.

I also do not shop at several stores. I pick one or two stores for that week and that is where I go. This budget is for food items only. It does not include household items or pet food. But, on that topic, it is time to buy pool supplies to open the pool. We have had a pool ever since we moved to Florida 22 years ago. I can not believe how high the prices of pool supplies are this season. I about died yesterday. I don’t even know if it will be worth it to run the pool once we get into late July and August when maintaining the pool is already that much harder due to the heat and humidity. It might be the first year ever I refuse to afford to keep the pool open. Since I am really the only one that uses it consistently anymore, it might be more of a cost hog, than a convenience.

How are prices where you live? Share your budget strategies in the comments.

If you can not afford to buy groceries please reach out to your local community resources for assistance.

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National Sloppy Joe Day!

Welcome back for another Food on Friday topic. I love Sloppy Joes! Do you? Today in the USA, is National Sloppy Joe Day. Watch the short video below to learn about the history of sloppy joes and her recipe. I make mine a little different than she does. I really enjoy her food history videos. Be sure and check out some of her others. I was actually going to make these today, but I completely forgot to take out the meat to thaw. But, I have made these lots of times using the ingredients below. My new week for the grocery budget challenge will begin Sunday, as that is when I have time to grocery shop.

Now, I have CKD, and I try to avoid HFCS at all costs. It upsets my stomach and generally makes me not feel good. There is a standard Sloppy Joe sauce that is available in stores. It is affordable, but it does contain HFCS and lots of sodium. So, I choose not to use it, and honestly, I don’t even think it tastes that good. Keep your portion size of the meat mixture to no more than 3-4 ounces, and try to make a vegetarian option using mushrooms. Ooh, I bet that is delicious.

To lighten up your Sloppy Joe you could use ground turkey, lean ground beef, or even ground chicken. A whole-grain bun would add more nutrients than just a plain white bun. If you are trying to keep it light don’t add cheese to the finished sandwich.

These are the ingredients I use.

  1. Lean ground beef, the leanest I can find, or ground turkey.
  2. About a tbsp of olive oil to cook the ground beef and veggies in
  3. A bell pepper, green is the most affordable
  4. Some chopped onion. I like Vidalia onions.
  5. Garlic minced, or any garlic you have on hand. I generally have garlic powder.
  6. Low sodium tomato paste.
  7. 2/3 of a cup of catsup. I like organic and prefer sugar free, though no one else does.
  8. 1.3 cup of whatever vinegar you have on hand. I usually have red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar on hand.
  9. 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  10. 1 tbsp of brown sugar, use stevia brown sugar if you watch your sugar intake
  11. 1/2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce.

That is it. After you cook the ground beef, onions, and peppers, add everything else, stir it all in, and voila a Sloppy Joe is born. Don’t forget to drain the fat off of your meat.

Let me know how you make Sloppy Joes, and if you don’t if you will try this recipe and how much you like it.

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The Biggest Kidney Development In 20 Years!

Hello! It is still National Kidney Month, and I meant to talk about this topic weeks ago, but I got busy with other things and it didn’t happen.

I am not going to go into all the mumbo jumbo of a clinical trial, there is a video for that, lol. The video below will talk about the clinical trials for Farxiga and the results. I will keep it simple and state it met all of their standards with flying colors! The FDA has now approved Farxiga for the treatment and prevention of kidney decline in CKD patients with or without Diabetes. This is huge!

Now, before you get too excited there are some caveats. It is for stages CKD 2-4, and you can not be on hemodialysis. You can read the drug information here, but if you are on a low sodium diet, and which person with CKD is not on a low sodium diet, then you need to proceed with caution as Farxiga can cause you to be dehydrated, and cause volume loss. Make sure you discuss all aspects of this drug if you decide to ask your doctor about using it. The people in the clinical trials were on ACE Inhibitors, or ARBS, most likely to control blood pressure. So, I would be curious to know how Farxiga would work for those of us who do not take those medications. Not all of us do, though it is a typical standard of care for most people with CKD. Also, and most important in my mind, is that Farxiga can cause a type of genital infection, that can lead to gangrene, in the genitals. Yes, you read that correctly. You would need to pay extra attention to this very sensitive part of your body for any signs of infection. You also can not have Polycystic Kidney Disease or autoimmune kidney disease to take Farxiga. There are other drugs in this class of medication, but only Farxiga has been FDA approved for the treatment of CKD. Farxiga is made by Astrazeneca.

Now, my thoughts on Farxiga. Would I take it to slow the progression of my CKD? Absolutely, if what I was currently doing did not already have me back hovering at stage 2. I also do not take Ace inhibitors or ARBS, so I probably would be disqualified from using it. I do not want to be on hemodialysis, ever, and so this would be something I would consider. I would request my doctor make adjustments in my plan of care, such as sodium restrictions, and I would request closer monitoring for side effects.

Be sure and watch the videos, read the links, and educate yourself before talking to your doctor about taking Farxiga.

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