When i have my gallbladder removed, what should i eat after gallbladder surgery? It can be difficult to figure out what you can and cannot consume after this procedure. Foods with carbs and fat may be the biggest mystery when it comes to eating after gallbladder removal. Eating something that tastes good but has too much fat restricts movement of food through the digestive tract.
What is the best diet after gallbladder removal?
Although the gallbladder is not a vital organ, it plays an important role in digestion. As a result, people who undergo gallbladder removal will need to change their diet. Changes may include avoiding fatty, greasy, or spicy foods.
According to a 2017 review, there is no specific recommended diet for people without a gallbladder to follow. However, avoiding certain foods and prioritizing others can help someone recover from surgery and avoid adverse effects.
In this article, we explain how gallbladder removal affects digestion and list the best types of foods for someone who has had this surgery.
How gallbladder removal affects digestion
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ up to 10 centimeters in length that resides below the liver. It stores bile acids, which the liver produces. Bile acids help the body digest and absorb fats.
After gallbladder removal, a person may be less able to digest fats effectively. Their stomach may empty more slowly after meals. Bile will also flow directly into the small intestine, which can result in food moving faster through the digestive tract and may harm the microbiome.
As a result of the effects that gallbladder removal has on digestion, a person will need to change their diet after surgery.
For some people, these changes may be temporary, but for others — particularly those whose diet was previously high in carbohydrates or fat and low in fiber — the changes will need to be permanent.
Can you recommend a diet after gallbladder removal?
After having their gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy), some people develop frequent loose, watery stools. In most cases, the diarrhea lasts no more than a few weeks to a few months. There isn’t a specific gallbladder removal diet that you should follow if you have this problem, but there are a few things you might consider.
First, it helps to understand why you’re having diarrhea. Diarrhea after gallbladder removal seems to be related to the release of bile directly into the intestines. Normally, the gallbladder collects and concentrates bile, releasing it when you eat to aid the digestion of fat. When the gallbladder is removed, bile is less concentrated and drains more continuously into the intestines, where it can have a laxative effect.
- Go easy on the fat. Avoid high-fat foods, fried and greasy foods, and fatty sauces and gravies for at least a week after surgery. Instead, choose fat-free or low-fat foods. Low-fat foods are those with no more than 3 grams of fat a serving. Check labels and follow the serving size listed.
- You should increase the fiber in your diet. This can help normalize bowel movements. Add soluble fiber, such as oats and barley, to your diet. But be sure to increase the amount of fiber slowly, such as over several weeks, because too much fiber at first can make gas and cramping worse.
- Eat smaller, more-frequent meals. This may ensure a better mix with available bile. A healthy meal should include small amounts of lean protein, such as poultry, fish or fat-free dairy, along with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
What foods should I eat?
While it’s best to avoid certain foods when you don’t have a gallbladder, there are still plenty of things you can and should eat.
Fiber can improve digestion in the absence of concentrated bile. Just ramp up your intake slowly so you don’t overdo it right after surgery, as it can also cause gas.
The following are healthy sources of fiber and many other nutrients, such as calcium, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids:
- potatoes with skin
- whole grain bread, pasta, rice, and cereal
- raw nuts (not roasted in oils), such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews
- raw seeds, such as hemp, chia, and poppy seeds
- sprouted grains, nuts, and seeds
- fruits and vegetables
Nutrient-dense, vitamin-dense fruits and veggies
Since you’ll be recovering from surgery and needing more fiber, try to incorporate as many nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible.
The following foods are good sources of antioxidant vitamin A, fiber, immune-boosting vitamin C, and many phytonutrients to assist your body in recovery:
- legumes, such as peas, lentils, or beans
- Brussels sprouts
- citrus, such as oranges and limes
Lean meats or meat alternatives
If you’re used to eating a lot of meat, a gallbladder removal diet can seem intimidating. But you don’t have to cut out all meat. Just opt for leaner meats or plant proteins, such as:
- chicken breast
- white fish like cod and halibut
Healthy fats and low-fat, fat-free foods
Try to avoid heavy oils, especially when cooking. Swap vegetable oil for avocado, olive, or coconut oil. These have more good fats than other cooking oils. Still, you should try to limit your intake of oils.
You can also try low-fat versions of food you might need to avoid for a while, such as:
- sour cream
- ice cream
Foods to Avoid
While your body adjusts, it’s a good idea to avoid high-fat foods for a few weeks after your gallbladder removal.
High-fat foods include:
- Fried foods, like french fries and potato chips
- High-fat meats, such as bacon, bologna, sausage, ground beef, and ribs
- High-fat dairy products, such as butter, cheese, ice cream, cream, whole milk, and sour cream
- Foods made with lard or butter
- Creamy soups or sauces
- Meat gravies
- Oils, especially palm and coconut oil
- Skin of chicken or turkey
Certain high-fiber and gas-producing foods can also cause discomfort after gallbladder surgery, so you may want to introduce them slowly back into your diet.
These foods include:
- Whole-grain breads and cereals
- Brussels sprouts
You may benefit from including more soluble fiber in your diet, since it can help regulate bowel movements, according to the Mayo Clinic. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and barley.
It’s a good idea to avoid larger meals, since your body can no longer store as much bile as before. Smaller, more frequent meals may be easier to digest.
Caffeine and liquor
Caffeine contains acids that can make your stomach increasingly corrosive and drain faster. This can prompt stomach agony and distress subsequent to having gallbladder removed.
Restrain or stay away from these caffeinated foods and drinks:
- Espresso or Coffee.
- Caffeinated drinks or energy drinks.
- Snacks with caffeine, for example, energy bars or espresso enhanced treats.
Processed foods regularly contain a ton of extra fat and sugar. This makes them last more, but on the other hand they’re difficult to digest and don’t offer a lot of nourishment.
Try to avoid:
- Cinnamon rolls.
- Sweet grains like: sugary cereals.
- white or other processed breads
- foods prepared in vegetable or hydrogenated oils
How to Use a Food Diary to Help Manage Crohn’s Symptoms and Flares
Spicy foods may also cause digestive upset for a time after gallbladder removal.
To figure out what foods, if any, are causing problems after your surgery, you may want to consider keeping a food journal.
In this journal, you can record when you add foods back into your diet, as well as any digestive symptoms you’re experiencing — and possibly make a connection between the two.
If you need help developing a diet plan after your surgery, ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian.
Will a Gallbladder Cleanse Help?
Sometimes, news of an alternative remedy will spread rapidly through the internet and social media.
But reading about a remedy in multiple places doesn’t mean that it’s effective or even safe.
One such alternative remedy is the so-called gallbladder cleanse, which is often touted as a treatment for gallstones or an alternative to gallbladder removal.
There are many different recipes for this so-called cleanse, but most involve drinking large amounts of citrus juices, Epsom salts, and olive oil.
The advertised promises may sound enticing, especially if you’re facing the cost and hassle of gallbladder removal.
“There’s not any good evidence to suggest there’s anything out there to reliably do that,” Dr. Jagannath says.
Jagannath says that people who try out these remedies often have subsequent bowel movements that include small round objects thought to be gallstones.
Are there any other diet tips?
Making some slight adjustments to your diet after having your gallbladder removed will go a long way in making your recovery smoother.
In addition to swapping certain foods for others, you can also try these tips:
- Don’t start with solid foods right away after surgery. Slowly introduce solid foods back into your diet to prevent any digestive issues.
- Eat small meals throughout the day. Having large amounts of food at once can cause gas and bloating, so split up your meals. Try eating five to six small meals a day that are a few hours apart. Snack on nutrient-dense, low-fat, high-protein foods in between meals. Try not to eat more than 3 grams of fat in a single meal.
- Substitute basic ingredients in recipes. For example, use applesauce instead of butter when you bake, or make an egg substitute using flax seeds and water.
- Consider following a vegetarian diet. Meats and dairy, especially full-fat versions, are often harder to digest without a gallbladder. Here’s everything you need to know about making the switch.
- Stay fit. Exercising regularly and keeping yourself at a healthy weight can help with digestion