Getting Started

This site is for informational purposes only.
Please consult with a qualified medical
professional before making any dietary changes.

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How do I get started?

Before starting the diet, it is a very good idea to start looking at lists of low oxalate foods and compare that to the diet that you have been eating. Use that to assess whether you have been eating a normal diet or a very high oxalate diet.

If you have been eating a very high oxalate diet, especially for a long time (months to years), the symptoms at the beginning of the diet may be more severe than for someone who was eating an ordinary diet. It may be best for you to cut out the extremely high oxalate foods first for at least a week before starting to eliminate the medium oxalate foods. This way you can work your way gradually into a completely low oxalate diet.

Most parents of children with autism who have made excellent progress on this diet have found that it is necessary to restrict the diet to only low oxalate foods for a period of time (weeks to months) in order to see the true benefits from this diet.

Be sure as you plan what you will buy and serve that your food choices are going to be providing adequate nutrition. Many grains are high oxalate. So, when they are removed from the diet, it may be more difficult to keep the calorie count high enough.

The following is a very general guideline for calories in children.

For specific guidelines based on your child's sex, age, height, weight and activity level, go to this Kid's Energy Calculator.

The amount of oxalates for an adult on a low oxalate diet should be between 40-60 mg a day on a 2000 calorie diet. Please keep the proportions of oxalate to calories similar to this: 33-50 calories for each milligram of oxalate.

For specific calorie intake guidelines based on your height and weight, go to this Adult Energy Needs Calculator.

With the low oxalate diet it seems very important to supply the gut with flora that can degrade oxalates that begin to be released, especially because one of the routes oxalates will take as they leave the body is through the intestine. If there are oxalate-eating microbes present in the colon, then this process will be easier.

We have found the best probiotic currently on the market has been VSL#3, which was developed for ulcerative colitis and pouchitis and can be purchased on the internet. Since it may take some time to get your order delivered, ordering this as soon as possible will make it easier to start the diet. Some parents have made yogurts from coconut or goat milk adding VSL#3 to the culture. Soon, we hope the prescription probiotic for the anaerobe oxalobacter formigenes will be available which is now in development and should work even better.

It also is important before beginning the diet to have on hand calcium citrate, magnesium citrate, and the antioxidants Vitamin A & E. Vitamin C is not used as an antioxidant on this diet because a large proportion of vitamin C appears to be converted into oxalate over a period of about one to two weeks or longer. The Vulvar Pain Foundation, with much experience in tracking oxalates in patients, recommends keeping Vitamin C intake at or below 150 mg/day.

Many people find it useful to have ready some pH testing strips so they can see if the diet is changing urinary or salivary pH. Some have noticed big swings in pH during the regressive periods, and there are ways to address this by choosing foods that help move the pH up or down.

These websites might help:

Note for parents:

Occasionally, the regressive periods can be so severe that it worries the educators working with your child. For this reason, especially if you have a child who has been high oxalate for a long time, it may be a good idea to begin the diet a few days before a school break (during what we call the "honeymoon" or the first few days of improvement. This way the regression, if there is one, will hit during the time off. Also, be sure your child's doctor will support you with a letter to explain that negative changes are temporary and the child is likely to be much better after this period is over.

Where can I go if I need more help getting started?

You can join the Trying_Low_Oxalates Yahoo! Group.
You'll find many people who have been following a low oxalate diet for quite some time who will be able to help you.