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Monday, March 4, 2013

Post Gallbladder Surgery Diet

What To Eat After Gallbladder Surgery

Wondering about your diet after gallbladder surgery? I was too! Many doctors will tell you that you can return to a normal diet after a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery) But, for many people that is simply not the case. So, what can you eat? Are there any foods you should avoid? Keep reading to find out!

I had my gallbladder removed using a procedure called laparoscopic cholecystectomy in October 2010. The fact that it was a laparoscopic surgery meant that the healing process after surgery was faster and easier. However, my doctor told me it was still important to make sure that I ate the right foods after surgery to aid in healing and avoid digestive issues.

A few days after my surgery I started to feel hungry again and then I started to really wonder what exactly the right foods were. So, I've done a lot of research on the topic and decided to share it here so that others can hopefully benefit from my experience! If you will be having surgery or know someone who is having surgery to remove the gallbladder, I hope you find this useful!
What is a Gallbladder?

And Why Do I Need One?

I assume if you're preparing to have your gallbladder out then you know what it does but I will provide a brief description just in case!

The gallbladder is located in your upper right abdomen, sort of behind your liver. The gallbladder stores the bile that the liver creates. Bile is important for digestion. After you eat your gallbladder releases bile to help break down the food.

Sometimes gallbladders get "sick" and stop working right. You may develop Cholecystitis which is a swelling of the gallbladder. Cholecystitis can be caused by gallstones but it also may be caused by infection. If Cholecystitis and gallstones go untreated they can cause the gallbladder to burst which is a very serious emergency. For these reasons, it is often recommended that the Gallbladder be removed.

Despite what some people may tell you, the gallbladder is an important organ. No, it's not necessary to have one to live but it does make life easier (unless it goes bad!) After gallbladder removal the liver has to work harder to help digest foods and filter waste. The liver can no longer rely on the gallbladder to store the bile it produces which means the bile is continuously dripping out of the liver into your stomach.

When you eat a meal that is high in fat the liver must work extra hard to try to provide enough bile to help you digest the fat. For these reasons, it's very important to watch what you eat after gallbladder removal. Your body will eventually adjust and you will most likely be able to start eating food that you enjoy again but this can take months or even years.
Your Diet 24 Hours Post Surgery
For the first 2-3 days after surgery you probably won't be very hungry. Anesthesia can cause nausea and it is generally recommended that you stay on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours after surgery - until the anesthesia has cleared out of your system completely.

Also, remember that although the outside of your body does not look very traumatized (if you had a laparoscopic surgery) your body did just go through a trauma. Your organs are adjusting to the effects of the gas that was used during surgery as well as the fact that an organ was removed. A clear liquid diet means that you can pretty much eat anything you can see through.
  • Water
  • Broth
  • Jell-O
  • Fruit Juice Without Pulp (Apple Juice, Grape Juice and Cranberry Juice
  • Clear Soda (Avoid Caffeine)
  • Tea
  • Popsicles (Without Bits of Fruit)

Foods To Avoid

There are some foods that should be avoided after gallbladder surgery. Generally, any foods that gave you pain before surgery will need to be avoided. It will take awhile for your body to learn how to digest fats so you should stick to a low fat diet for at least a few weeks after surgery and reintroduce them very slowly. Dairy products and too much fiber can also cause problems.

The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast) should be avoided if you are having problems with constipation. However, if you are having diarrhea you may want to eat more of these foods.

Every one should avoid these:
  • Fried Food
  • Dairy Products Especially Cheese
  • Peanut Butter
  • Red Meat
  • Greasy Foods
  • Raw Vegetables
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol (especially if you're on prescription pain pills!)

Peanut Butter Fast Fact

Did You Know...?
Peanut Butter has 16 grams of fat and 200 calories per 2 tablespoon serving? The fat content is the reason you may want to avoid peanut butter after gallbladder surgery.

Your Diet 1-2 Weeks Post Surgery

Chicken Noodle SoupAfter 24 hours you should be clear to start eating more solid food. Remember to take it slow. Instead of eating 3 big meals, spread it out to 5 or 6 very small meals over the course of the day. I know from personal experience, that I felt full even after eating only a little bit! Listen to your body and if you start feeling full, stop eating!

You can of course continue to eat items from the clear liquid diet. Your nausea may return even a few days after surgery. Sometimes a little broth or tea will help you feel better when you're feeling nauseous.

It would be impossible to list everything that may be tolerated since everyone is different. Some people will be able to tolerate more foods sooner than others. I have listed some suggestions based on what worked for me and what I have heard worked for other people.

  • Soup (Avoid creamy soups. Chicken & Noodles or similar soups are good)
  • Get A Tasty Chicken Noodle Soup recipe here!

  • Mashed Potatoes (Mix broth in with the potatoes instead of butter)

  • Fruits (Don't eat too many Bananas if you're having problems with constipation)

  • Toast (Use minimal amounts of butter - or none at all)

  • Rice (Avoid if you are having problems with constipation)

  • Applesauce (Avoid if you are having problems with constipation)

  • Oatmeal

  • Chicken (Not Fried!)

  • Crackers

  • Bile Salts

    Bile Salts can help aid in the digestion of fats. They seem to work particularly well for people who have had their gallbladders removed and can not tolerate fatty meals.

    Your Diet 3 Weeks Post Surgery And Beyond
    Healthy MealYou should be able to start re-introducing your old favorite foods 3 or 4 weeks after surgery. Remember to take it slow and listen to your body. It could take months for your body to completely adjust to the removal of your gallbladder.

    If your diet was poor before surgery you should probably not plan to return to the same diet after you have healed from surgery. For the health of your liver you want to keep fat intake to a minimal level. As with any healthy diet, you want to keep your meals well balanced with fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains and dairy.

    Be careful not to eat too much in one sitting. Your body will most likely digest food more slowly and eating too much will cause indigestion. Add new food back into your diet slowly and listen to your body. If something makes you sick return to more bland foods for awhile and try again in a week or so.

    Food To Help You Heal

    and to help you live healthy!

    There are certain food that will help your body heal faster and maintain optimum health. Try to add some of the foods listed below to your diet to help your incisions heal and help you get back to "normal" faster!

    For the rest of your life your liver will be compensating for the loss of your gallbladder so it's important to eat foods that help support the liver. It's also important to eat for the health of your intestinal tract which will help you avoid indigestion. The following food will help support your liver and intestines and should be fairly easy for your body to handle.
    • High Fiber Foods (Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains)
    • Non-Fat Yogurt
    • Flax Seed Oil or Hemp Seed Oil (contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and can be taken in supplement form)
    • Protein (Fish and chicken are best. Beef and pork should be avoided)
    • Cottage Cheese

    Dealing With Diarrhea

    It's not fun to talk about, but diarrhea is a problem for many people who have had their gall bladders out. Here are some tips for preventing and treating diarrhea after gallbladder surgery.

    Foods To Avoid:
  • Dairy Products
  • Caffeine
  • Really Sugary Foods
  • Greasy foods

  • Foods To Eat
    Maintain a normal healthy diet when you're suffering from diarrhea and add the following:
  • BRAT Diet - Bananas, Rice, Applesauce & Toast
  • Yogurt can help build up the good bacteria in your gut to prevent and treat diarrhea
  • Drink lots of water. You should normally have half your body weight in ounces every day - drink extra when you're dealing with diarrhea.



    1. Thank you for your post.

    2. I am looking for something to make my gf for valentines day I am in college becoming a chef so cooking is not a problem just need to no of something really nice I can make her can some one please help me

    3. Thank you so much for posting the food list for after gall bladder removal surgery. I wish I found this sooner. It has been a week for me and I can't seem to escape any pain and I realized I'm making dumb food decisions. Making a new grocery list now. Great piece!

    4. Thanks for the idea. I had gallbladder surgery 5 days ago and am still having pain. I ate a little food and it hurt so bad i am back to popcicles. I think i rushed it, and after doing some reading this is going to be a life changing experience. Hoping it helps me lose weight too.

    5. I had gall bladder surgery a week ago and have had pain ever since especially when I eat and it doesn't matter what I eat. Thank you for the list.

    6. Friends my burning type of pain lasted for about 6 weeks after my surgery. Felt like my insides were on fire. After 2 months I started back in with the nausea, that's when I cut the majority of my fat out of my diet, and I started to feel better. I also take Ox Bile twice a day. I lost 45 pounds as well.

    7. I had surgery just over a week ago and about midway through the week developed about 4 days of diarhea, whether I ate saltine crackers or nothing at all. It was horrible. The dr recommended Activia (a probiotic yogurt) to try to reduce bad bacteria in my stomach and created good bacteria in my stomach. He also said bad bacteria can develop after being on an anti biotic, which I was in surgery. He also said to take immodium. So I ate Activia light and it stayed in, I tried plain white rice and boiled chicken together with salt and a little apple cider vinegar for flavor and one immodium pill. It helped and stayed in, this is where I started to mend. I am a few days past that and still afraid to eat. Yesterday I made canned biscuits and made an egg, no butter, no grease, and ate the egg biscuit and it went right through me. The biscuit had butter built into it, so I think that was the culprit. Ive had eggs 3 times this week and all times they made me sick. So I think I'm done with them for a while. Ive been ok with a small bowl of cereal, like toasted chex with a little sugar. Ive also been ok with baked potatoes with sour cream. But at this point I think I need protein.

      How can I get protein without the meat, which seems to be bad to eat (other than chicken)? Any one have ideas?

      1. Try some reduced fat peanut butter, turkey bacon, extra lean turkey burger, reduced fat hot dogs, fat free lunch meat, popcorn. All sources of protein. Eggs have 5 grams of fat each, so ease off them for a while. Read labels on everything. Try getting some ox bile and take a pill at breakfast and one at dinner. This should help a bit too. It's sold at specialty stores or on the internet.

    8. Thank you soo much!! I read here to try to stay 3 grams of fat and under. I am going to try what you've suggested. I haven't tried anything outside of boiled or baked chicken (plain) and a rotisserie without the skin. So when I get my courage up I will try what youve suggested with meat. Thank you again!