Gallbladder Removal Diet Basics: What to Eat and What to Skip

Updated on March 30th, 2020
Gallbladder Removal Diet

Situated just beneath your liver, the gallbladder is a small pouch that stores the bile produced by the liver, it helps you digest fats. It is about 7-9 cm long and 4 cm wide. After consuming a meal rich in fats, the bile is released, causing the gallbladder to deflate, much like a balloon.

Unfortunately, some hardened deposits of digestive fluid when stuck inside the gallbladder and the bile duct can cause significant abdominal pain and other complications. This is when a gallbladder removal surgery or a cholecystectomy is recommended.

Normal digestion is still possible after the surgery. The bile will continue to be passed from your liver to the small intestine. It will just not be stored on the way in the gallbladder.

So, while getting your gallbladder removed is in no way life-threatening, you have to make certain adjustments to your diet after cholecystectomy to accommodate this change. In fact, research(1) indicates that 5% to 40% of people experience gastrointestinal symptoms after a gallbladder removal surgery.

Historians believe that Alexander the Great may have died due to acute cholecystitis at the age of 34.

Gallbladder Removal Diet

Foods to Avoid

After the removal of your gallbladder, bile is directly released from the liver into the intestine. Since it is less concentrated and drains more freely into your small intestine, it tends to have a laxative effect until your body gets used to it. This is when you should try to practice some diet restrictions after your gallbladder removal surgery.

1. Fatty Meats

Red Meat
Image:ShutterStock

Even though you may be tempted to, it is best not to consume the following fatty meats until your doctor recommends otherwise.

  • Bologna
  • Salami
  • Steak
  • Pork
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Red meat

2. Dairy Foods

Although dairy foods are rich in calcium, they contain a lot of saturated fats as well, which may distress your stomach.

  • Full-fat ice-cream
  • Full-fat cheese
  • Whole milk
  • Full-fat yogurt
  • Butter
  • Whipped cream

3. Processed Foods

Chocolate Cookies
Image:ShutterStock

The high fat and sugar content in processed foods may help them last longer, but it also makes them harder to digest.

  • Pie
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Sugary cereals
  • Doughnuts
  • Cookies
  • Microwaveable dishes like frozen pizza

[ Read: Easy to Digest Foods ]

4. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates your stomach to make more acid and drains out faster. While this was controlled by the bile released by your gallbladder before, your liver may not be able to manage it the same way now, which may lead to stomach issues. It is best to avoid caffeinated foods and beverages for a while after the surgery.

  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolates
  • Tea

Apart from the ones mentioned above, you should also avoid alcohol and other foods and beverages that may encourage diarrhea. And, remember, gallbladder removal diet is not long term, and you will be able to include most of the foods back into your diet after some time.

In 1987, an 85-year old woman from England made the world record when a mind-boggling 23,530 gallstones were removed from her gallbladder.

Foods to Eat

Since there are a lot of foods that you will have to crop from your daily diet after the gallbladder surgery, you must increase the intake of other nutrient-rich foods to make up for them. Go over this list of foods to eat with no gallbladder and ensure that the following are a part of your meals every day.

1. High-Fibre Foods

Fiber Foods
Image:ShutterStock

Fibre can bind to the excess bile between meals and reduce the risk of disturbing your gut function(2). Ensure that you gradually increase the intake of fibre food after your gallbladder surgery so that your stomach can get used to it.

  • Lentils
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Chickpeas
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal

[ Read: Foods for Fatty Liver ]

2. Nutrient-Dense and Vitamin-Dense Foods

It is best to stick to a mainly vegetarian diet(3) that can offer you all the nutrients and vitamins your body needs and avoid fat and sugar.

  • Peas
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocados

3. Healthy-Fats Foods

Cheese Benefits
Image:ShutterStock

While the fat intake needs to be less, do not cut it out entirely from your diet. Instead, choose a low-fat diet after your gallbladder removal so that it contains 30% calories from fat or less(4).

See Also
horse gram

  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat sugar
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Low-fat sour cream
Astronauts are encouraged to have their gallbladders (along with their appendix) removed before going into space so that there are no unwanted complications when they are so far away from the planet.

Other Diet Tips

Apart from the foods to eat and the foods to avoid after your gallbladder surgery, there are a few other things that you need to take care of.

  1. Introduce Solid Foods Slowly: Ensure that you introduce solid foods gradually into your diet as a drastic change in the dietary patterns could cause significant distress to your stomach.
  2. Split Your Meals into a Few Smaller Meals: Having large portions at once can bloat your stomach. Instead, schedule four to five small meals in a day for yourself. If you feel hungry in between, snack on high-nutrient, low-fat food.
  3. Increase Your Water Intake: Drink lukewarm water after surgery to improve your bowel movement.
  4. Exercise: Follow a schedule that complements your diet in keeping you free from digestion problems. Keep fit to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal issues.
  5. Use Healthy Alternatives for Basic Ingredients: Do not be tempted by your favorite foods. Instead, use low-fat substitutes for high-fat products or swap heavy oils (like vegetable oil) with olive or avocado oil.
  6. Try Veganism: Without your gallbladder, meat and high-fat dairy items can be difficult on your body. For a smooth transition, try eating vegan food that is nutrient-rich and low-fat.

Bottom Line

While there is no clear diet for the gallbladder removal surgery, there are some foods you should avoid and some you should consume to recover without complications. Ensure that you don’t overdo anything and always consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.


FAQs

1. Can I eat eggs after my gallbladder surgery?

Since eggs have a high-fat value, it is recommended not to eat them in the beginning days after your surgery. Instead, egg whites and fat-free egg substitutes can help you feel satiated.

2. Can I lose weight after having my gallbladder removed?

Yes, your diet after gallbladder removal can lead to weight loss because you make significant changes to it like no fatty foods.

3. What are the signs of my gallbladder going bad?

The symptoms of your gallbladder going bad are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Changes in urine
  • Changes in bowel movement
  • Jaundice

4. Can gallstones kill me?

Gallstones are not generally a medical emergency. However, failure to treat them can lead to potentially fatal complications such as gallbladder infection.

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