I have a fairly open-minded mom who wants to lose weight and is nearly convinced that low carb paleo makes the most sense. She's almost ready to come on board despite her ridiculous oatmeal and orange juice obsessions and her fear of fat. Fat - this is where the biggest problem lies. My mom definitely has gallstones but she has no intention whatsoever of getting them surgically removed and currently believes that she keeps the pain under control by eating very little fat. She already does not eat cheese but she does consume skim milk (with her oatmeal, ugh) and cooks with a little olive oil (mostly in spray form). That's the only added fat she's currently getting outside of whatever dietary fat exists in things like lamb, chicken, beef, and fish.
Does anyone have any scientific knowledge or even N=1 experiences as to how much fat she truly would need to consume to make the longterm change to a paleo lifestyle? I'm concerned that she will eat so little fat that she will be miserable & hungry and will fall back to her old way of eating (not completely terrible but not weight-loss inducing either) because she will feel so limited. Do you really need to stop eating fat to keep gallstones under control? Am I making too much of a big deal about the need for eating more fat?
Oh btw she's 67, has bad knees, needs to lose probably 50 lbs(?), and leads a very sedentary lifestyle, if that makes any difference.
(If anyone wants to add any great reasons I could use to convince her why she should ditch the oatmeal and orange juice, I'd love it if you could add that here as well even though it is outside the main question.)
Please help! My mom is ready to make the change and I really want this to work for her. Thanks!
Edit: My mom still has her gallbladder and cannot risk having it removed. Please consider this prior to responding. Thanks.
asked byinvisible_ink (2640)
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on July 15, 2011
at 08:21 AM
I have gallstones and eat fat freely. What convinced me that I need to do this is the fact that stagnant bile causes gallstones. What keeps bile moving is eating fat. Eating low fat is probably fine if you plan to eventually get your gallbladder removed, but long-term I think it's only going to make her problems worse.
on July 14, 2011
at 04:56 PM
I had my gallbladder removed about 20 years ago, I have never had any issues, esp eating fats. I think the body has the ability to adapt remarkably well. What did help my digestion issues was going LC, no more bloating, elimination is regular and healthy.
on December 15, 2011
at 03:41 AM
I realize that this thread has been quiet for awhile, but I thought I'd add from the N=1 perspective in case people are still reading this for reference. I had gallstones and had my gallbladder removed after trying unsuccessfully to control it with diet (method used I now realize probably wasn't the right one).
Regardless, the problem when you do have gallstones is that the gallbladder becomes so irritated and inflamed that it can begin squeezing almost without any reason. If, when this happens, a gallstone is squeezed out of the gallbladder into the common bile duct, that duct (which eventually leads to the small intestine) may become blocked and thus any bile from the gallbladder or the liver is also blocked and causes major problems. Even more serious is if the stone descends further to where the bile duct joins with the pancreatic duct right before the small intestine. Blocking the pancreatic duct is also an emergency situation. Worst of all, if these blockages are occurring, the gallbladder itself may rupture spilling bile and other digestive juices into the peritoneal cavity and this is also an emergency situation.
So, please be careful with trying to eat fat if you have a highly inflamed gallbladder and gallstones, because the consequences can be life threatening. The doctors will tell you that you don't really need your GB, which may in some sense be true, but it is a major organ and seems to me that attempts to keep yours should definitely be made if the situation warrants that approach. However, if the surgery is unavoidable, folks should know that it is one of the most common types of surgery and can also be done with minimally invasive procedures.
I wish I had know about this lifestyle earlier before I lost my GB. Just glad that now I still have a chance to try it.
on July 14, 2011
at 05:13 PM
I think invisible ink is asking about fat consumption with*OUT* surgery (please correct me if I am wrong)! My experience was that before my surgery, I reduced my fat consumption by whatever I was eating before my most recent attack. Eventually I was down to nothing but jello and fruit cocktail. Literally. THEN came the night when I dreamed that a wild animal was eating my stomach as I lay there....and I woke up to find myself in the throes of another attack....even with zero fat in my diet. That was the last straw, and I scheduled surgery as soon as possible.
As I found out later, once the gall bladder gets full enough of bile and stones, it will squeeze whether or not fat has been consumed. So, this is what your mother may be looking at in the future, even if she removes all fat from her diet. Given that, and having experienced two years' worth of the agonizing pain of gall bladder attacks, I would hope if it gets bad enough, your mother will consider surgery.
After the surgery, there may be an adjustment period before fat can be consumed, but once the adjustment period is over, fat consumption can resume gradually, and a full paleo lifestyle can ensue. But frankly, before surgery, I would discourage normal consumption of fat. It's just too painful.
on July 18, 2011
at 05:34 PM
Heya, I'm no expert, but you said you want to hear N=1 experiences, so here it is: Slowly, very slowly, increase fat consumption, while at the same time, decreasing sugar and flours, including fructose.
First off, I found Paleo diet after my gallbladder situation got resolved. My gallbladder pain got so bad that I could barely eat anything for weeks, and eventually I went to Emergency. I couldn't have gallbladder surgery because I was at very high risk for thyroid storm. (Umm, sleeping heart rate 170bpm?! That was so scary.) So I was told to 1) eat no fat until 2) I get the thyroid situation under control, which could take years, so that we could 3) remove that gallbladder.
I am so lucky that 2 funny things happened: my FutureMIL bought me lots of vegetables, then my own mother visited me by surprise, she always shows up by surprise, grr!, bringing me all my favorite meats, fish, and delicious butter from out-of-state :-D Anyway, as I was told to, I ate no fat. I was afraid to eat the meat or fish, so I just had dry vegetable salads. Eww. My mom kept getting mad at me, and she made me eat meat and fish a little at a time. Once I saw that my body was OK with that, I was still scared, but eventually it made me brave enough to try things like: milk, butter, eggs. One egg used to make me rush to the toiled with horrible gallbladder pain and tons of vomiting, until there was only bile. But I was fine after eating the egg! I was so shocked!
So I started Gooling around how to heal gallbladder without surgery, and I kept finding links advising to slowly increase fat in the diet, while eliminating sugar and simple carbs like flour. From what I read, gallstones and sludge are formed by very low fat, high carb/sugar diets. No fat coming in: no bile comes out of the gallbladder, the bile gets stale and forms stones. I kept doing what was working. It was much later that I saw that Paleo diet was pretty much how I'd been eating: vegetables and animals, woohoo!
It's mid-July now, and I haven't had problems since May. I went to the ER mid-April! I didn't want to type too much (oops!), so I'll just link you to the first post of my journal. The first post is pretty much what I just typed here, but shows how far I've come along.
Your mother's situation might be much more different than mine because she is older, but I think this would be worth a try. Atleast eliminating sugar and simple carbs, at first. [shrug] From what I read (can post links if you want them), I think that would stop new stones from forming. Then she could increase fat just a little, to see if she can handle it. Hope this helps!
on July 14, 2011
at 07:58 PM
While I am not suggesting surgery,that is a very personal decision,I can share that I too have a clotting disorder and take coumadin daily with monthly blood tests etc. Last Jan. I had a complete abdominal hysterectomy. Hospitals are quite prepared to transition patients through the process of coagulating to anti coagulating. I would say that after my surgery my lack of symptoms and pain have given me a greater ability for activity and exercise which allows increased circulation and less blood stagnation and clotting potential that can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle. Best of luck to her!
on July 14, 2011
at 07:31 PM
I don't think you'll ever really know for sure until you're mom just starts trying, by that I mean, slowly increase intake of healthy fats, dropping the refined carbs and sugar. It's the only way to find out. It's unfortunate she's has the gallstones and the issues preventing her from acting to resolve them.
I had my gallbladder out 7 months ago and now I'm following a paleo diet. It's been trial and error for me. I can't handle a heavy amount of fat in one sitting, i.e, too much bacon in the morning will have me running to the bathroom - I can handle one piece. I figure my body has some adjusting to do since have the gallbladder removed - I'm not complaining - it's just trial and error. Good luck.
on July 14, 2011
at 06:07 PM
Having gallstones and having had gallbladder attacks, I understand your mother's reticence. Perhaps having her slowly increase her intake of healthy fats will allow her body to adapt and help alleviate her fears?