I had my gallbladder removed last Wednesday. Aside from the normal side effects of surgery, which I had planned for, there was one consequence that has totally blown my mind.
Essentially, what the gallbladder does is store bile. Bile helps break down things like fat. Without a gallbladder, the body has a lot less tolerance for fat and calories than it used to. Why is my mind blown? Because I didn't realise that by having this surgery, I was electing to do without my main coping mechanism. You see, eating is how I cope. Sad, angry, happy, scared...there's a snack for that. And, like most snackers, my favorites are high in fat, sugar, and calories.
And I can't have them anymore. Or at least not very big portions, and not regularly. The Gallbladder Diet, as it's called, is low fat, low carb, low sugar. Things like fruits and veggies, brown rice, potatoes, and lean meats are in. Things that most people associate with rabbit food, actually. Foods like white bread, pasta, beef, anything fried, or sweetened are out.
I made a list of all the foods that my gallbladder-less body can handle, and I started crying. For 27 years, I've relied on starches, sugars, and artificial flavours to help me deal with my emotions. I don't really have any other coping strategy, except to eat my feelings. I really don't know what to do. Obviously, I can learn other techniques for dealing with stress. But I just feel overwhelmed because it's changing literally an entire lifetime of habits practically overnight. I don't know if I'm strong enough for that.
Yes, I could cheat, and eat things that I know will upset my stomach. Honestly, that's what I did today. My husband and I went out for Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant, and I ate my way through the buffet. I was told that it would be painful if I ate things not on plan, and I was intellectually prepared for some discomfort. That wasn't wholly the problem. (There was actual, physical pain and discomfort)
The main problem, though, was that I felt betrayed and angry at the food. Isn't that a weird reaction? I actually hated the chocolate mousse and Belgian waffle. I found myself getting very upset, and I took some of that anger out on my husband. But I wondered why food made me feel betrayed. What, exactly, did the mousse do to me that would cause such a violent reaction?
And I realised. Instead of causing me comfort-instead of making me happy, it actually hurt. Not just an absence-of-joy hurting, but all-out physical pain. That lasted for hours after I had eaten.
I've told my husband that I'm scared to lose weight because of who I will be without all the fat. Well, now I'm scared of what I will turn to since I can no longer hide in the comfort of foods. I feel adrift and rather depressed, to be totally honest.
Change is scary. Especially big changes all at once. I'd like to think I've got enough strength and courage to go all-out and embrace my new restrictions. I want to believe that I will be inspired by my new, healthier diet to finally shed the poundage. But I'm really not sure what kind of person I am without the food. And that's what scares me most.