Friday, 3 April 2009

My inspiration for a gallstones diet

Having been diagnosed with gallstones several months ago, my mother is now following a fat-free, gallstones diet. She lives on her own at the other end of the country and it wasn't until she came to stay with us recently that she revealed just how bored and frustrated she was with the monotony of the fat-free diet.

Basically, the doctor had told her to cut out all fat, eggs and meat. In fact, his simple, but very unhelpful, advice was: “If it tastes nice, you probably can’t have it.” There was no dietary information sheet, no offer of an appointment with a nutritionist. Just: “You’ve got gallstones, you must follow a fat-free diet.”

So, taking doctor’s word as gospel, as so many people do, mum had been living on just about the same diet for three months - porridge made with skimmed milk for breakfast, dry toast and jam for lunch and steamed fish and steamed vegetables for dinner. Supplemented by raw fruit, dry ryvitas and rich tea biscuits to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

OK, it’s worked. She’s had few recurrences of the extreme pain and/or sickness during that time. And there’s been a plus-side in that she’s lost weight from a size 18 to a 16. But she is SO BORED with it.

As an elderly person who is less active than she used to be, one of her few joys in daily life was her food. She has always cooked for herself - good, wholesome food but, naturally, that included regular use of meat, cheese, eggs and pastry. She also made delicious home-made cakes.

However, like many people, she wasn’t an adventurous cook - preferring to stick to recipes she knew by heart. And that meant she struggled when it came to thinking of fat-free recipes.

When mum came to stay we asked what we could cook for her, she plaintively told us about her attempt at a fat-free diet and said: “I wish I knew what else I could eat. It would be so much easier if I could follow a weekly menu for gallstones sufferers.”

I thought, “Simple! There’s got to be one on the internet! It’s such a fount of all knowledge!” But in this instance, the internet let me down.

My husband and I share the cooking , so between us we began to come up with new recipe ideas using fat-free alternatives of staples such as yogurt and cooking spray, and microwaving or griddling instead of frying. At the same time, I began drawing together, for mum to take home, a gallstones diet sheet using information I gleaned from lots of sources - books, websites and friends.

During mum’s stay we enjoyed trying out new fat-free recipes and, needless to say, mum was very happy to test them.

She said: “I never dreamt there could be so much you could eat when you have gallstones. I should think lots of other people with gallstones have the same problem and would really welcome help with gallstones diet ideas.”

And so this blog was born...

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