Today, I'm super excited to share something that's a big departure from the content you've come to expect here at Kiss Creative! I was recently invited to share my story about being Keto without a gallbladder on an amazing little podcast called The Keto Diet Podcast with Leanne Vogel. Her book, The Keto Diet, is one I can't live without. I had such a great time chatting with her and I'm thrilled for the opportunity to share my experience. So, I'm getting a little personal today! If you haven't already, listen to the episode HERE.
Here for the infographic? I totally get it! Click the button below to skip ahead.
This is where it all began...
One evening, I stood beside my best friend at our high school carnival. She begged me to try a fried Oreo. I was 16 and I had just lost 30 lbs. of "baby fat" playing Wii and making "better choices" (notice this transformation in the photo below) ...Literally, frozen meals from Healthy Choice. So, the Oreo in question was huge departure from my standard fare. Of course, it was incredible. I had just one, and like clockwork, I was struck with abdominal pain. The discomfort was so unbearable I had to sit down. My friends would later fantasize about late night trips to iHop, but the traditional American breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and bacon was completely out of the question for me. Heavy meals became my mortal enemy.
A few months later, I stopped going to school. My mom took a leave from work to be home so she could take me to doctor's appointments. I saw many of them, and each one had a different professional perspective to offer. One doctor told me there was nothing wrong, and another simply asserted that I was overmedicated. I endured regular endoscopy procedures, and eventually, an 8-hour CAT scan of doom. Finally, I met with a doctor from the Children's Hospital.
He told me I had gallbladder disease, and just like that, I was scheduled to have my gallbladder removed. In contrast to the months spent agonizing for an answer, this decision felt incredibly swift. But, we were relieved to have an answer. We were relieved to find a doctor who didn't say it was all smoke and mirrors. In hindsight, I wonder if desperation clouded our judgment in trusting his diagnosis. I wonder if I could have exhausted other options before taking such a drastic measure. It all seemed to happen so fast.
The surgery was also swift. I went to the hospital with a gallbladder. Three days later, I left without one. Every day, I was brought a menu of standard fare to choose from: pancakes and bacon, burgers, macaroni and cheese, pudding cups. The list went on. The hospital even had Baskin-Robbins in the lobby and Dove hot chocolate on every floor. My doctor hadn't prepared me for any restrictions, but losing weight had taught me to make mindful choices. I ordered meals made with sides of fresh fruit and whole wheat bread.
Despite my mindfulness, I left the hospital to gain over 100 lbs. in less than a year. The traditional methods (which once worked) no longer had the same effect on my weight. My physical health began to suffer. I was just a teenage girl, and for the first time in my life, I was considered morbidly obese. And I still experienced pain.
I spend countless hours researching health, wellness, and gallbladders. I was desperate for answers. I couldn't believe my doctor sent me home without an understanding of life without a gallbladder. How it previously functioned. How my life could be different without one. How to eat without a gallbladder. How to supplement without a gallbladder. I was discouraged by the results of my surgery, and I was left with answers I had to find on my own.
But, something beautiful happened...
I began to find answers. I learned about the gallbladder. One researcher said, "you can live without your gallbladder, but it still serves a function in your body." I was clueless before, but through my efforts, I began to form a better understanding. I came to learn that my liver would take on some extent of the responsibility my gallbladder once had. It was working harder than before. I knew that supporting a healthy gut would be imperative.
I started to read about common supplement recommendations. I even loaded the word "gallbladder" into the finder on my web browser while scrolling countless pages of supplement reviews. I wanted to understand the experiences of other people who faced similar challenges. I began to feel less alone. I ordered Ox Bile and Digestive enzymes and I incorporated them into my everyday life (scroll down for an infographic on supplementation.) My mindset shifted, and I became optimistic about the future.
I graduated high school at my highest weight (nearly 300 lbs.), but the landscape of my health gradually shifted as I moved through college. Eventually, I moved away from a plant-based vegan diet and I adopt a paleo lifestyle. I fell in love with the research, and I became addicted to health science. I prioritized my gut health.
Eventually, I found Keto. I had already lost a ton of weight on my own (good, old-fashioned diet + exercise), but my progress slowed as the number on the scale decreased. In my mind, the idea was ridiculous. But, the support of my supplementation routine gave me enough confidence to give it a try. The first time I went keto, I failed miserably. My keto flu was SO REAL. I was sick as a dog. Nevertheless, I tried again.
The feeling of being in ketosis was magical. I was losing weight, enjoying my meals, and thinking with an unbelievable amount of clarity and focus. Leaning on my supplements (like doubling doses around especially fatty meals) supported my digestion through what might have been an otherwise difficult transition. I had successfully transitioned to a keto lifestyle. Later, it became a vital aspect in my experience with healing adrenal fatigue.
Today, I'm finally approaching a healthy weight. I've lost over 100 lbs, including the weight I gained after my gallbladder surgery. I've lost at least 30 lbs. through a fat-fueled ketogenic lifestyle. My journey towards health and wellness continues to evolve and as my passion for this pursuit continues to grow. I hope it never ends.
There might always be some mystery around the state of my health at the time my gallbladder was removed, and I'm at peace with that. The journey inspired me to embrace a holistic approach to health, and it will continue to serve me for the rest of my life. I'm living proof: If you live without a gallbladder, a ketogenic lifestyle is not always out of the question. If you're anything like me, it might be worth a try! Finally, if you've struggled after having your gallbladder removed, you're not alone. There are options out there for you.
I walked away from my gallbladder surgery with regrets because I didn't feel 110% certain it was the right option for me. But, I recognize that's not the case for everyone! It may be a necessary step for others. It could be the right decision for you. If you've had regrets (like me), a positive experience (I'm thrilled), or you're still going through the decision making process - the advice below is for you!
What I currently use:
Nutricology Ox Bile - 500-1000 mg before meals
Source Naturals Essential Enzymes - 500-1000 mg before meals
Renew Life Women's Probiotic - 1 capsule on an empty stomach every morning!
Advice and Major Takeaways:
If you're considering having your gallbladder removed, I recommend communicating with your doctor, doing your research, and exploring your options with diligence prior to moving forward. Sure, doctor's appointments and abdominal discomfort both suck (bad). But, taking a little extra time to get it right beats a lifetime of regret ANY day!
Someone once told me, "there are always two experts in a room." It resonated with my experience as a patient. Trust your instincts and take your time to find a doctor you trust.
I've identified as an "easy gainer" after my gallbladder removal surgery. It's difficult and it can be discouraging, but in the end, I see it as bittersweet. I have to care for my body more diligently, but I'll be better off for it in the long run, anyway.
If you struggle with digestion, keep a food journal and pay attention to your poop (sorry not sorry) in tandem. Work to identify the foods (and fats!) that process better in your body.
Double up on digestive support (per manufacturer instructions/professional medical advice) around especially fatty meals.
If you live without a gallbladder, give your supportive organs a little extra love! Be kind to your liver and take a little extra care of your gut health.
Links and Resources
Listen to the podcast episode HERE - The Keto Diet Podcast #071
Subscribe to The Keto Diet Podcast on iTunes!
Kiss Creative is my design + branding business, but I've shared my story here for lack of a better option! If you'd like to follow more of my keto health and fitness journey follow my personal Instagram @thedesigndoll - if you like it, maybe I'll make a seperate blog!
This information does not reflect the opinions of a licensed medical professional. Please consult a your doctor before considering any of the advice or reccomendations detailed above.