Saturday, July 30, 2016

Gallbladder diet. 07/28/16 Eating Out? What Can I Eat?

One of the most frustrating things living this gallbladder life is giving up all those oil filled restaurant foods that smell so delicious and make my mouth water.
Gallbladder diet.  Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant is one of my favorite #gallbladder friendly places to eat out.

I've had to severely curtail my eating out because there is honestly not a lot of gallbladder friendly food one can order!

Oatmeal with raisins is a standard for breakfast.

I did however find an egg-white omelet with veggies at one restaurant, but if you aren't really specific about cooking the omelet without oil ( or at least go way easy on the oil) then the plate comes out with a beautiful no-fat omelet full of healthy veggies but swimming in a pool of melted butter or vegetable oil.

My gallbladder would scream at me.

Anyway, I've learned to make sure the wait staff understands 'no oil' means 'no butter' and/or 'no butter' means 'no oil' too.  You'd be surprised.

Sometimes if I'm not sure if they understand what I'm requesting I'll tell them that I could end up dead in the booth if the cook forgets and uses oil or butter.

You should see the look in their eyes.

It's mostly true though.  If you've ever had a bad gallbladder attack you will think you are dying.

So that is why I like Sweet Tomatoes.  The restaurant even has fat free ranch and fat free Italian dressings in addition to literally hundreds of non-fat fresh food choices on their all you can eat salad bar.

Moreover, their hot sweet and white potatoes are always moist, warm and cooked just right so one is not stuck eating a cold meal.

Dress warm though, Sweet Tomatoes here in Fort Myers keeps the air conditioning cranked and running cold!

Gallbladder life doesn't have to be boring.

Eating out can be fun.  You just have to know where to go!

Cheers!  Kevin    #gallbladder life

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gallbladder diet, 07/28/16, Scallops & Papaya

Gallbladder disease doesn't have to mean bland food forever.

In fact, after stabilizing any inflammation there are many awesome gallbladder friendly dishes one can prepare.

Gallbladder diet.  Scallops pack a nutritional punch and are gallbladder easy.
On top of all important gall bladder friendly traits most if not all of these recipes will help you move in the direction of optimum health and fitness.

I've lost over one hundred pounds since my aortic dissection and gallbladder issues began in 2011.

Through a dedicated low-impact exercise plan that included walking, swimming and yoga, combined with the gallbladder diet my waist dropped from a men's size 44 to my present (and old high school waist size) men's 30.

Collaterally, I feel much better about myself and am not near as embarrassed to take my shirt off around the swimming pool.

Today's gallbladder/heart/body healthy foods are scallops and papaya.


Scallops are one of the world's most healthiest foods.  They are full of protein and omega 3 fatty acids along with many other important nutrients while being low in simple carbs and calories.
Gallbladder diet.  Scallops are an excellent source of protein and very gallbladder friendly to many.

A 3 oz. serving of steamed or broiled scallops contain almost a third of our daily B-12 requirements while also offering much needed magnesium and potassium.

Preparing scallops couldn't be quicker and easier.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the frozen or fresh seafood and sprinkle with a dash of salt, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, lime juice and garlic powder.
Gallbladder diet.  I sprinkle my scallops with pepper, garlic powder, turmeric and ginger!

Place in a pre-heated over for fifteen minutes or until sizzling, then broil till the tops turn a light golden color.

Allow to cool and serve with homemade horseradish based cocktail sauce or honey mustard.

Garnish with fresh cut parsley from your patio garden.

OMG.  My mouth is watering.  Total preparation time is about twenty minutes.


Gallbladder diet.  Papaya has a long history of soothing digestive systems. #gallbladderfriendly
Papaya is one of those foods that no matter how queasy your stomach may feel this fruit makes it all feel better and best of all is full of gallbladder friendly nutrition!
Gallbladder diet.  Papaya is an excellent fruit when the digestive system is acting 'iffy'.
Papaya should be stored on the shelf until the green outer coating begins to turn the papaya yellow-orange hue.  I usually place mine in the refrigerator for a day or so then until fully ripe and firmly soft to the touch.

Rinse the fruit and peel.  Remove seeds by scraping out with a spoon (they will sprout and grow into papaya trees if you plant them) and serve cold.

I've always found papaya to be gallbladder friendly and completely satisfying for a breakfast or anytime snack.

Put the two together, scallops and papaya, and you have the perfect, exotic summertime dinner!

Cheers!  Kevin   #gallbladderlife

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gallbladder Diet, 07/27/16, Cookbook that Inspired my Gallbladder Diet

Sometimes there is a spark of inspiration leading you to achieve great things.

Gallbladder diet.  Although written for healthy hearts, this cookbook forms a great basis for gallbladder health also.
For me this cookbook started a food revolution in my life, one that has saved me from further #gallbladder pain and so far surgery.

This cookbook is comprehensive and lays all the nutritional facts out on each page for each recipe making it so easy to quickly decide whether or not the food may be gallbladder friendly.  For me a quick glance at the total fat content is all revealing.
Gallbladder diet.  I've changed some ingredients and practices to make recipes more gallbladder friendly.

Although the cookbook's recipes were compiled for good heart health they also perfectly serve to form the basis for a gallbladder friendly diet.
Gallbladder diet.  There are so many recipes one would have a hard time going hungry!

The American Heart Association's Cookbook offers an amazing array of scrumptious recipes most of which are low fat, and high in protein or complex carbohydrates.
Gallbladder diet.  Healthy cooking supports not only gallbladders but other body organs too!

I absolutely love the nutrition chart associated with each recipe.  Right away I can spot total fat content and decide whether or not the particular recipe may be gallbladder friendly.

Gallbladder diet.  How many times have I missed good coleslaw!  Here's a gallbladder friendly recipe!
Let me be clear - the book serves as an inspiration for a good gallbladder diet.  There are however some ingredients and cooking practices I've modified in my gallbladder diet, such as replacing cooking spray with poaching or water sautéing.

Seriously consider ordering the 8th edition of the American Heart Association's Cookbook here.

Gallbladder friendly diets don't have to be boring.

I am loving my kitchen, the food I prepare and eat even more now than ever before.  Note to Gallbladder; I'm not thanking you here for causing me to seek out a more healthy diet.  But I am glad I've discovered how to eat healthy all the while avoiding those horrible inflamed gallbladder sessions.

Cheers!  Kevin.  #gallbladderlife

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Gallbladder Diet, 07/26/16, Crock Pots, Organic White Sweet Potatoes and a Healthy, Gallbladder Friendly Breakfast

Gallbladder diet is much more than preparing and eating low fat gallbladder friendly foods.
Gallbladder diet.  Creating a multidimensional culinary experience is an important component of a gallbladder friendly diet.  Crackpots are a vital appliance component!

A well rounded gallbladder diet will also include portion control support, an inviting and clean kitchen as well as fantastic cooking aromas coming from the stove, oven or crockpot.

Too often our gallbladder friendly diet fails us because we tend only too food choices.

Failing to neglect enticing kitchen aromas and a easy to work in, convenient kitchen setup negates two thirds of the pleasure we find in our ultimate mealtime experience.


Crockpots are a gallbladder friendly easy way to add both convenience and the aroma of anticipation to our homes and kitchens.

Day before yesterday I soaked a half bag of black beans overnight.  Yesterday the beans were tripled rinsed and covered with water.  Two super large Vidalia onions were quartered and placed in the beans along with a heaping spoonful of vegetable bullion.  Crockpot covered and turned on high, the rest involved waiting with the promise of hearty, flavorful food.

That was easy.

All day long the cooking beans and onions filled the house with a savory scent.

If you let the beans cook overnight I would almost guarantee you that your family will be wanting them for breakfast.

Sometimes beans alone are hard to try and convince the kids to eat.  However, create an air of anticipation with the convenience and aroma of the almighty crockpot and the others will be drooingly ready for a well seasoned savory bowl.

Beans are not the only gallbladder friendly food one can cook in the crockpot.  Your imagination is the limit to tasty, low fat, complex carbohydrate based vegetable centered meals.

Its time we enlist our crockpots to stand with us in our fight against gallbladder inflammation.

Organic White Sweet Potatoes

Back in the early days of learning gallbladder friendly diet habits I relied heavily on regular potatoes.

Next I added the (for me) slightly more tasty sweet potatoes.

Don't get me wrong as any potato, though basically bland in taste would fill me up and chase away the nagging sense of unfulfilled hunger.

Potatoes add fiber and bulk too.  And there are many different gallbladder friendly ways to eat a potato; potatoes with ketchup, potatoes with soy sauce, potatoes with no fat yogurt, potatoes with salt and pepper and potatoes without butter or sour cream.

Yet a potato is a potato so I thought.

Until I discovered Organic White Sweet Potatoes from Public.  O.M.G!
Gallbladder diet.  Organic white sweet potatoes are a cross between white and sweet potatoes.

 Organic White Sweet Potatoes are the one type of potato I will always keep in my kitchen from now on.

Whether for a scrumptious snack or a stand alone hearty meal, these root vegetables combine the creamy texture of white potatoes with the savory flavor of sweet potatoes!

Gallbladder diet.  Baked (or for convenience sakes in microwave 12 minutes for two) these make a great meal.
I like mine with a dash of soy or teriyaki sauce.  Yum.

How can a food that tastes so good be so gallbladder friendly?  You've got to try them.

Gallbladder diet.  I add a touch of teriyaki or soy sauce to mine after cooking.
Remember, creating a well rounded culinary experience involving a clean, inviting kitchen, filled with alluring aromas can super-charge the taste and desirability of foods.

A successful gallbladder, friendly diet will take advantage of multidimensional food experiences to help keep us satisfied and on track to a long life free from inflamed digestive organs.

Crank up the crockpot!

Cheers.  Kevin #gallbladder life

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gallbladder Diet, 07/21/16, Gallbladder Friendly Creamy Ranch Dressing & Arugula Beet Chayote Portobello Roasted Red Pepper Salad w Baked Salmon

I am a big man. 6'3"+ and it takes a lot of hearty food to satisfy me.

After the last gallbladder attack in 2015 I was extremely concerned I'd not ever again enjoy a hearty meal.

Oh, this salad and creamy ranch dressing is so filling.  But not too filling.  I'm still satisfied an hour after eating tonight, yet not over-stuffed.

And the creamy ranch was so tasty.

Lately the meals have been one half vegan and the other half vegetarian or pescatarian.
Gallbladder diet.  Arugula, Chayote, Beet, Portobello, Roasted Red Pepper Salad
Tonight salad was vegan except for the small amount of baked salmon topping and the cup of non-fat yogurt used in the creamy ranch dressing recipe.

Gallbladder diet.  Wild non-farmed salmon with portobellos ready for the oven

First I baked the portobellos and wild caught salmon in the over at 350F for twenty minutes after marinating the shrooms in soy sauce for ten minutes. Feel free to add garlic powder, pepper, ginger or turmeric if you desire (I did).

Gallbladder diet.  Boil Chayote with their skins unit tender
While the salmon and portobellos are baking, place two whole chayote in a sauce pan and cover with water.  Add a dash of sea salt and bring to a boil.  Cover, turn to low-medium heat and allow the chayote to gently boil for fifteen minutes or so.  The chayote will be cooked when a fork or knife can easily be inserted all the way into the vegetable/fruit.

Gallbladder diet.  Slice chayote into wedge sections, cover and allow to cool in the refrigerator
 My first chayote squash came from a vine in Grandpa's Miami backyard.  As a young boy I loved to watch the chayote vines climb up the sprawling live oaks in Grandpa Morrow's landscape.

Chayote possesses a unique, earthy flavor and soft pear like texture when cooked.  Many like to eat chayote with butter.  Not me.  My gallbladder would erupt.  Chayote with salt and pepper is scrumptious tasting to me.

You should be able to find chayote in any large grocery store's vegetable section.  I purchased these two this week from Costco.

No need to peel chayote but I do remove the seed before slicing into wedges.  Chayote makes a great snack cooked and served hot or cooked, chilled and served with a gallbladder friendly dip (teriyaki or soy sauce works well).
Gallbladder diet.  Slice cooked beets into wedges and chill

While the chayote are cooking, wedge cut three of four cooked organic beets.  Again, I purchase mine from the produce section at Costco.  Beets are also available from most Farmer's Markets or grocery stores.  Place the beet wedges in a bowl and chill along with the chayote.

Gallbladder diet.  These roasted red peppers contain no fat except for the natural oils in the peppers

The delicious roasted red peppers came from Publix in a glass jar.  These particular peppers possessed a slight hint of fire from the roasting process, were sweet but not too sweet and were bottled with water.  Zero grams of total fat usually translates into a happy gallbladder for me.

Gallbladder diet.  Slicing the roasted red peppers for the salad
Slicing then placing the red peppers in the bowl of beet wedges, the salad toppings were chilled in the refrigerator.

Gallbladder diet.  Beet wedges and roasted red peppers
Beet wedges and roasted red pepper slices, chilled make a great happy gallbladder snack on their own.  Sometimes its hard to keep hungry fingers out of the bowl while the beets and peppers chill in the refrigerator.

Gallbladder diet.  Roasted portobellos ready for quartering
Quarter the roasted portobellos and set aside for use as a topping on the salad.

Gallbladder diet.  Salad is starting to come together
Wash then place the organic baby arugula leaves on the serving plate.  Arrange the wedges of chilled chayote, beets, sliced peppers and portobellos as desired over the arugula.

I added about one half cup of the baked salmon on top of all the garnishments for a super hearty and delicious evening meal.  The plate shown should be enough for two hungry adults to share.

Both the adults gallbladders should be very happy with this super low fat meal.

Creamy Yummy Ranch No-Fat Dressing

Gallbladder diet.  Ingredients for the super yummy creamy no-fat, gallbladder pleasing 'ranch' dressing
Back in time before my gallbladder revolted I loved creamy dressings, especially the kind that was full of artery-clogging oils, inflammatory high fructose corn sweetness and mysterious MSG.

For the first six months on my gallbladder diet I avoided creamy dressings.  In fact the only dressings I used were straight up balsamic vinegar or glaze, soy sauce or lemon/lime juice.

Eventually I tried fat free dressings made from corn or potato starch.  These starch dressings did not hurt my gallbladder but they tasted like blah barf times two.

Finally I figured out no-fat yogurt did not hurt my gallbladder either, though it did come in a plastic container.

After experimenting with several recipes I stumbled upon this fab creamy, tasty dressing mix and wow, it is so easy to make!

Gallbladder diet. Creamy ranch dressing is easy to make.  Herbs, spices, yogurt, lime juice and vegetable bullion.
Mix together one cup non-fat yogurt (I use Fage from Costco but any organic, non-fat yogurt would work fine), two tablespoons of lime juice (preferably key lime juice if available), fresh chopped herbs from your garden (basil and sage are shown here) and two heaping tablespoons of vegetable bullion.

Stir until consistency is creamy smooth.

Note: My vegetable bullion has a minuscule, almost negligible amount of oil but this has never bothered my gallbladder.
Gallbladder diet.  Fresh herbs from the garden, basil & sage

Gallbladder diet.  Finished no-fat, creamy, tasty 'ranch' gallbladder friendly dressing.
Chill dressing mixture and serve either on the side or over the salad.

Cheers!  Kevin #Gallbladder life is never boring.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gallbladder Diet 07/19/16 Fresh Food & Storage in Glass Containers - No More Plastics

Plenty of irrefutable scientific evidence exists today showing certain chemicals, like Bisphenol-A (BPAs) act to promote inflammation in our bodies.

Gallbladder diet.  Glass container and a gallbladder friendly condiment 

My body, especially my gallbladder is already inflamed enough without me adding more environmental toxins to fuel the fire.

Yet not only can BPAs promote inflammation within our bodies in general, they specifically have been shown to cause inflammation in perinatal circumstances to the distal colon and liver and potentially in-turn the gallbladder.
Gallbladder diet.  Buy juices in glass jars.  Avoid plastics, especially BPAs

Even in adult populations studies show that BPA levels are directly related to an increase in inflammatory markers related to visceral obesity and insulin resistance.

Importantly, insulin resistance has been shown to be directly related to gallstone formation in many adults.

Gallbladder diet.  One of my favorite foods where I get omega 3s comes in glass containers
Plastics we use, cash register receipts we touch and prepared food containers all expose us potentially to BPAs.  And both directly and indirectly influence our propensity to form an inflamed gallbladder and increase the likelihood of forming more gallstones.

Gallbladder diet.  If it comes in glass and is fat free my gallbladder is happier
So in my search for the best gallbladder diet I am eliminating as much plastics as I can from coming into contact with food, including;

  • buy only fresh produce from the local market and carry home in cloth or fabric sacks,
  • pass on purchasing produce wrapped in plastic or on a styrofoam tray from the grocer,
  • avoid buying frozen fruits, vegetables or fish wrapped in plastics,
  • asking the butcher to wrap fresh fish in wax paper instead of plastics,
  • boycott the plastic containers of my favorite organic and kosher condiments such as horseradish mustard and place them in my shopping cart only if they are in a glass container
  • say goodbye to plastic wrap for use in the kitchen,
  • avoid handling cash register receipts,
  • use glass storage containers rather than plastic in the refrigerator,
  • by organic juices sold in glass jars only
  • and adopt an attitude of glass instead of plastics if at all possible.
The above may sound extreme.

Gallbladder Diet. Yes they have plastic lids but the container that touches the food is glass.
However humans have only been mass producing and using plastics for a generation or so.  We have no idea what the long term impacts these potential environmental toxins have on our future health.

Gallbladder diet.  Olive oil is especially important to purchase in glass containers

Unfortunately preliminary research is pointing to bad news with respect to plastics exposure and human health.  Cancers, birth defects, hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases have all been suggested to be linked possibly to BPAs and even the safer considered BPSs.

Now I know eliminating all plastics from my lifestyle is as impractical as my Project 100 Plan.

Gallbladder diet. Purchase fresh vegetables from the market, avoid plastic wrapped veggies
Yet nothing stands in my way from trying.  And I look upon the possibility of eliminating plastics from the house as an adventure and an offering of goodwill to my gallbladder.  

I am just learning about how intricately integrated our bodies are.  We can ingest, breathe, drink or touch some compound and that compound can affect the functioning of one to many of our organs, especially inflammatory substances.

So I'm going glass.  Bye bye plastics.

If this promotes the healthy functioning of my gallbladder for even a year over my lifespan it will be worth the effort.

Glass is classier than plastic too, in my opinion.

Mustard Based Condiments

I miss my ranch dressing that I would dip 'everything' on the supper table in.  Oily ranch dressing would today send my gallbladder writhing. Yet for many years ranch dressing was my favorite dip all.

Faced with a challenge though new doors and opportunities always seem to open out of nowhere.

Actually the opportunities were always there I was just lost somewhere on the ranch.

Gallbladder diet.  Fat free and in a glass container = happy & healthier gallbladder

Since I begun my gallbladder diet journey I've discovered an amazing array of fat free, organic and most without High Fructose Corn Sweetener, mustard spreads.  Some are too spicy yet most are simply delicious and kind to my gallbladder.

Gallbladder diet.  Mustard mixtures are healthier than many other creamy or ketchup based dressings and they are sold in glass jars.

Check out your grocer's cooler section near the chilled sauerkraut. Yum.

Gallbladder diet.  Mustard based condiments are available in many different flavors, again in glass containers
Finally, even mustard grows old after a while no matter what cool spice, herb, vegetable or fruit  ground seed is mixed with.

And so tomorrow I am going to write about my fat free (starchless) ranch dressing that is absolutely creamy and dreamy.

In the meantime I really do believe eliminating plastics from our food will pay long term benefits to our gallbladder, liver, intestines and digestive system.

As a post note, there is an amazing article about integrating eastern and western medicine with diet for optimal gallbladder heath here.  I am a novice understanding what eastern medicine can actually do.  I highly recommend reading this inspiration note written by Paula Owens found here.

Cheers!  Kevin. #gallbladder life

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gallbladder Diet 07/19/16 Bye Bye Coffee Hello Ginger Tea

Dark rich coffee has been one of my best friends all my life.  The strong, almost bitter aroma has greeted mornings and the sunrise with me for decades.

Gallbladder Diet.  Substituting ginger for coffee in my morning drink has delivered health benefits.
Moreover, I used to rely on the black slurry as a crutch  to carry me throughout the entire day.  Coffee was my go-to safe haven.

Not anymore.

Although there are plenty of very good studies showing just how beneficial and healthy one or two cups of coffee actually are, I've still quit.  In fact some websites purport the premise that caffeinated coffee actually lessens the chance of gallstones and a gallbladder attack.

I've stil quit.  Its been about a year now.  I quit drinking coffee after my last gallbladder attack.

Despite the research suggesting that coffee may not cause gallbladder attacks, the drink is an irritant.  Just ask your bladder.

The U.S. Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health published a paper indicating "coffee induces cholecystokinin release and gallbladder contraction".  Caffeine certainly may cause gallbladder contractions.

With a sac full of stones and past problems with gallbladder inflammation do I really want my gallbladder contracting unnecessarily and unpredictably?

If you can drink coffee without any negative gallbladder issues that is awesome.  I miss the drink badly from time to time.

However, foregoing coffee has provided me with many other benefits besides not causing my gallbladder to go squeezie on me.

My teeth are much whiter now.  Not that they are pearl white, but they sure are much brighter than when coffee stained.

Secondly my heart arrhythmias have decreased in intensity and frequency.

Thirdly my prostate is happier and urination frequency certainly has decreased.

Quitting wasn't really so bad.  It was more of a mental challenge than breaking a physical addition.  Morning routine is important to me though so I did substitute decaf for the high octane at first.

But one day I ran out of decaf.  The jar of organic powdered ginger sat on the counter right in front of me.  I shook several dashes of the golden powder into my water filled mug and placed in the microwave for 92 seconds.

Today hot ginger tea in the morning is my favorite drink - no bitter after taste and no acidic stomach.

And so quick and easy to make even when morning eyes are still foggy and unfocused.

The health benefits of ginger tea are described across the internet as significant, restorative and universal!

The aforementioned U.S. Library of Medicine too has a study indicating ginger does not stimulate the gallbladder to contract.  For me this is very good.  No unexpected squeezies.

I can have a hot drink in the morning without the worries of my organs becoming irritated or stimulated through caffeine use.

Easy Make Morning Ginger Tea

Fill mug with filtered water.

Shake in three of four 'shakes' of dried, powdered ginger (preferably organic).

Gallbladder Diet.  Shake in three or four good 'shakes' of powdered ginger.
Place in the microwave for desired water temperature (alternatively heat filtered water on the stove in a teapot).
Gallbladder Diet.  I heat my water for 90-100 seconds.

Carefully remove mug from microwave and stir with spoon.

Gallbladder Diet  The ritual of a warm drink in the morning is important to me.
Enjoy a stimulating and refreshing hot morning drink.

Your breath will smell so much nicer throughout the day.  And hopefully your gallbladder won't be doing the caffeine squeeze.

Cheers!  Kevin

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gallbladder Diet 07/16/2016 When The Doctor Doesn't Believe Us & Chick Pea Poach

"I think I have gallstones and an unhappy gallbladder, Doc" I said.
Gallbladder Diet, In combination with my low fat diet I also take Ursodiol and this med has REALLY HELPED!

"Why is that?" he asked.

"Because my eyes have been yellow, I've had a hard time breathing and my right side just under my ribs hurts so bad," I said pointing to my lower right side.

"Let me feel, lay back" the doctor instructed.

I lay back on the examine table, unbuttoned my shirt and waited for his cold fingers to press into my side.

"Does that hurt?" doc asked.

"No" I replied.

"Sit up, Kevin" he said.  "What have you eaten in the last couple days?"

My memory is pretty bad after two open heart surgeries. "I think the last thing I ate was a lobster mac and cheese plate at the farmers market."

That should have been a dead give away and doc should have known then my hunch about gallbladder inflammation was correct.  I too, should have known never to eat a big cheesy plate of lobster and macaroni with cheese, especially from a tray that had been sitting in a farmers market booth most of the morning.

"I think you have food poisoning" he shook his head.

"Food poisoning, Doc?"

"Yes, food poisoning.  I do not think it is your gallbladder."

I sighed.  I knew he was wrong.  But how do you tell a doctor they are wrong?  I mean after all that college and medical school and years of practice, how could they be wrong?

"I want you to do a clear liquid diet and take this antibiotic prescription for ten days.  You should be ok then" Doc nodded again, scribbled out a script and closed my chart. "Come see me again if you aren't better in a couple weeks."

"OK, thanks, Doc" I slid down from the examination table and shook the Doctor's hand, stuck the script in my shirt pocket and walked out to the desk where the receptionist collects money.

One week later I was back in the doctor's office, doubling over with pain.

I'd taken the antibiotic faithfully and it did seem to help a little.

But the sopaipillas dipped in butter the day before sent me reeling once more.

"I'm going to have you see a surgeon.  I think you have gallstones and you might should just go ahead and have your gallbladder removed," Doc said.

The feeling of helplessness is almost indescribable.  So is the emotion of rage where one wants to shout, "I told you this a week ago!"

"What do I eat in the meantime, Doc?"

"Clear liquids," he replied.

The earliest the surgeon could see me was two weeks out.  The clear liquid diet was hard but I did not experience a reoccurring attack.

When the day arrived to see the surgeon I arrived early to his office, filled out the paperwork and sat silently, playing Words with Friends on the iPhone.

"Mr. Songer?" the nurse called out.

I walked into the exam room after being weighed, poked and prodded.  The surgeon was focused and non-personable.

"So you are on Warfarin, have a dissected aorta, went through a four month recovery on IV from endocarditis, are challenged by Marfan Syndrome and need your gallbladder removed?    This is a complicated issue.  What happens if you get another infection or your liver is nicked during surgery and you bleed out?  Furthermore, your artificial valve makes you a candidate for a stroke," he said coldly.

"Why am I here?" I thought.

"I'm going to refer you to a gastroenterologist to see why your bilirubin is high, also." the surgeon said.

"Thanks Doc," I said and hurried out of the office after paying the receptionist and placing the GI doctor appointment slip in my pocket.

The GI doctor's appointment was two weeks out.  Those two weeks I spent researching every alternative gallbladder treatment therapy available.  I scoured the internet, books and discussion groups.

A few of the terms that repeatedly began to emerge included;

  • low fat diet
  • non-spicy
  • lots of water
  • high fiber
  • gall bladder flush
  • lemon or lime juice
  • Ursodiol (Actigal)
  • acupuncture
  • walking, and
  • meditation
I quickly scratched through the gallbladder flush for personal reasons when I found out I had to ingest large quantities of olive oil.  Oils and fats were what brought on horrible attacks.  No way would I drink a half cup or so of olive oil.  Maybe the flushes really do work.  I'm too chicken to try though.

Low fat to no fat foods seemed to be ok for me to eat after I had slowed the intense inflammatory pain with the clear liquid diet for a month.  Clear liquids included water, apple juice, no fat chicken broth, vegetable broth and other 'clear liquids'.

Once the pain subsided I slowly started introducing fruit and vegetable juices back into my diet.

One month later the scale read twelve pounds lighter and I'd seen the GI specialist.

The GI doctor first was insistent on surgery.  When I mentioned Ursodiol he shook his head and said, "once you stop taking Ursodiol the stones will return.  Surgery is best.  But if you really want to avoid surgery then we can try Ursodiol in combination with a low fat diet."

"Doc, I am ready to try Ursodiol.  I've done my research on the medication and the literature speaks very positively about the potential for dissolving stones."

"Ok" he replied and I left with a script for the bile salt.  I was shocked at how expensive Ursodiol was.  The big membership clubs and chain stores offered a one month supply for about three hundred dollars.  Fortunately GoodRX app for my phone found a local pharmacy where I could purchase Ursodiol for sixty dollars.

The first time I took Ursodiol I was flabbergasted at how quickly I could feel my intestines rumbling.  So glad I was home at the time.  When I did use the restroom I passed a strange layer of non-water soluble sludge.  Right away I felt different.  I felt better, relieved but wary.

Ursodiol works by replacing more toxic bile salts in the liver and gallbladder and flushing the toxic salty sludge out of the gallbladder and into your intestine for discharge.

With the combination of daily Ursodiol medication and a low fat diet I began to go weeks at a time without pain.  As time passed I began introducing low fat foods one at a time back onto my plate, focusing on the higher protein content veggies and fish.

From time to time slight fleeting pain still hits me in the right side, under my lower rib cage.  But this level of uncomfortableness is brief, lasting only a few seconds and is entirely tolerable compared to the full blown attacks back of 2015.

The real test of how effective Ursodiol and my low fat, non-processed food diet will be in September when I have a follow up ultrasound test run on my gallbladder.  We shall see if the stones and sludge are dissolving.

In the meantime I am beginning to feel like I can truly eat again.

My world view of food though has drastically changed.  Yesterday when I walked through the Bell Tower Mall's food court to have my hair cut at the Mall's barbershop the throngs of people chowing down on rancid smelling greasy fast food truly amazed me.

I had absolutely no desire or cravings for any of the food court offerings.  Two years ago I'd been salivating.

As a side note a diet of non-processed, low fat foods has allowed me to break a weight loss barrier.  I've always wanted to 'get back' to my high school weight of 155 pounds but I seemed to get stuck around 200 pounds.  With the gallbladder diet I am down to the low 150's now and my knees, feet and cardiovascular system feel so much better.  My blood pressure has leveled off near 110/60.

The take away to this long blah, blah blog is simple.   Listen to your body and tell your doctors what you hear.

If your doctors don't listen to you, be persistent.

I've had to be persistent with all my cardiologists who don't see many Marfan or connective tissue patients.

If the treatment they prescribe is too invasive or not working, do your own research.  Be your best advocate.

I am taking Ursodiol now, not because my doctors thought it would be a good idea - they were stuck on surgical removal.

Ursodiol and the gallbladder diet are now one of my hopes because I researched and persistently insisted.

Be your own best gallbladder advocate!

Chick Pea Poach

Finally, here is a pic of chick pea poach.  Chopped sweet onions are steamed sautéed along garlic, greens from the patio garden, mushrooms and garbanzo beans until the  mixture is thick and hearty.  Season with salt, pepper, celery seed and a dash of turmeric.
Gallbladder diet, chick pea poach - protein, complex carbs and full of flavor

Eating for your gall bladder can be healthy and delicious!

Cheers! Kevin

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gallbladder Diet 7/15/2016, What About Snacks and Chick Pea, Rice, Spinach Soup and Talk Of Nuts

OK I'm hungry.  Not hungry enough for a meal, but still hungry.  I want a snack.

Gallbladder Diet, Keep GB Friendly, Healthy Snacks Closeby
Ideally once your gallbladder is stable, little meals or snacks throughout the day help you stay in shape and all importantly keep the gallbladder happy.

Snacks should also be healthy, for the most part.
Gallbladder Diet, Always Read Packaged Food Ingredients

One of the very worst times for hunger is when I'm in the van, away from home, with only convenience store food or Starbucks snacks close by at hand.

Feeling your blood sugar crash invites panic and desperation.

Panic and desperation invite giving in to all sorts of bad for your health, inflammation promoting, calorie loading cheap junk food.

Moon Pies used to be one of my favorites.  Of course today, with my gallbladder full of sludge and stones I'd come no closer to eating a Moon Pie than I would swimming with a Great White shark.

Gallbladder Diet, Seaweed May Be An Excellent Gallbladder Friendly Snack
Black coffee was another favorite 'snack' of mine.  Sometimes I'd use those sweet flavored creamers but usually just plain old black coffee would take the edge off hunger and satisfy my cravings for snacks.

In one sense, I should thank my gallbladder for not putting up with me eating Moon Pies or drinking acidic black coffee all day long.  I know my arteries and intestines sure are happier now that I don't eat and imbibe as much oily, fatty 'junk'.

Most of the time l try and remember to pack a few gallbladder friendly easy-eats when going out, foods like;

  • Dried figs (Costco has a great brand most of the year and they are organic)
  • Kombu sea vegetable (similar to Nori seaweed but thicker and chewier)
  • Celery and carrot sticks, fresh cut
  • Nori seaweed (important to keep Nori sealed in a bag because it will absorb moisture), and
  • Dehydrated apples, mango or papaya with limited or no sugar.
I've tried fat free turkey jerky.  Since I eat mostly vegan I'm not inclined to choose the turkey jerky much but it is a good source off protein.

Gallbladder Diet, Sea Vegetable Is Gallbladder Friendly For Me (Watch the Sodium)
Gallbladder Diet, Ingredients Show Zero Oils
Around the house I keep a jar of marinated mushrooms from Costco.

Gallbladder Diet, Marinated Mushrooms Make the Friendly List for My Gallbladder
Gallbladder Diet, Marinated Mushrooms Contain Zero Oil in This Jar
These tasty, somewhat chewy mushrooms have no oils or fats, except for those found naturally in the fungi.  They are not sweet nor too salty and though they are marinated in vinegar, the taste is quite mild yet very flavorful.
Gallbladder Diet, Figs Are Excellent Source of Energy and Satisfy Hunger

I used to be a big tree nut, seed and rhizome 'nut' fan.  Today, with my overactive gallbladder I can not eat nuts to any degree without risking an attack from the oils and fats most nuts are rich with and full of.

Not eating handfuls of pre-shelled nuts is a good thing too from an overall health perspective and weight control effort also.  Nuts are very high in fats and oils.  Fats and oils typically contain nine calories per gram. Thats a lot of fat energy.

Calculated out, if one eats a cup of salty roasted cashews then they are ingesting over 60 grams of total fat, enough for three days at my current gallbladder diet level. At least three days.

Though some people may be able to handle 60 grams of daily fat intake, remember this is just a snack.  Moreover, the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in the cup of cashews is about 50:1.

Too much omega 6's promote inflammation according to many studies and inflammation in our bodies is exactly the opposite where we want to be if we are already challenged by gallbladder inflammation.

I'm not knocking nuts.

Nuts are excellent sources of energy for humans and all types of animals.  

My new gallbladder life dictates a different view of nuts though.  

Living by the no nut policy is best in my opinion.  However if one must have nuts then I recommend the 'if the nuts are shelled then don't eat them' policy.

Avoid packaged or canned pre-shelled  peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, almonds or any other nuts.  Eat only those nuts you shell at the time you are hungry and looking for a snack.

Cracking a nut will slow you down.  Slow is better for the gallbladder and for your weight.  Picking out the shell pieces takes time.  Look for mindfulness and focus on breathing while preparing your nut snack.

Finally, if all else fails and you find yourself at the Seven Eleven, starving with blood sugar crashing avoid the yummy looking, fat laden packages of inflammatory junk and buy yourself instead a V8 juice or other vegetable juice.

No V8?  Convenience stores usually carry it but in the event they don't then purchase a water and a banana from the pile usually found on the check out counter.  No banana?  Go with the water.  It will make you feel better quickly.

Gallbladder life is a new reality.

People who've never experienced the sharp pain of an attack, or the nausea or difficulty in breathing have no idea what living with an inflamed gallbladder and stones is like.

But we deal with the challenges and move on.

Having healthy, gallbladder-friendly snacks at hand always helps.

Cheers, Kevin.