6 Tips on How to Eat After Gallbladder Removal

  • woman with stomachache, abdominal pain, or side pain sitting up on couch reading a book
    Short-Term Digestion Issues After Cholecystectomy
    If you’ve suffered with troublesome gallstones, you know that eating fatty foods can trigger pain. Gallbladder removal solves that problem, but you may temporarily have some other issues with eating after cholecystectomy. Your gallbladder isn’t vital for proper digestion, but your body needs time to adjust without it. As you recover, you may have diarrhea and bloating after you eat fatty foods. Here are six tips on how to eat and what to include (and exclude) in your diet after gallbladder removal.

  • Bowl of chicken soup with wooden spoon
    1. Ease Into It
    What you can eat right after surgery depends on your situation. Sometimes, doctors recommend liquids and soft foods. Other times, doctors let you eat what appeals to you. In most cases, you’ll find that soft, bland foods are easiest to digest. This includes foods like bananas, white rice, boiled potatoes, plain pasta, dry toast, and crackers. Gradually, you’ll be able to advance your diet and add more flavorful foods.

  • chicken-breasts-on-pan
    2. Choose Low-Fat Foods
    Your body will have problems digesting fat right after surgery. In a 'no gallbladder diet,' the less fat you eat the better. As you recover, you can gradually add more fat into your diet. Get used to reading food labels. Choose low-fat foods, and eat lean protein, such as skinless, baked chicken, turkey breast, and baked fish. Avoid fatty meats, greasy or fried foods, and foods with rich, creamy sauces. After a full recovery, you may be able to eat these foods in small amounts. Everyone is different. It’ll take a bit of trial-and-error to see what your digestive system can and cannot handle.

  • Yogurt with berries and nuts
    3. Dairy Dos and Don’ts
    Milk and dairy products are an important source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. But this food group can cause problems after gallbladder surgery. To avoid upsetting your digestion, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products like skim milk and low-fat cheese. Avoid whole-milk dairy products because the fat content can worsen diarrhea. On the other hand, low-fat yogurt with active, live bacterial cultures can help with your digestion.

  • variety-of-breads
    4. Increase Fiber Slowly
    Fiber can help bulk up your stool if you have diarrhea, but it can also cause cramping and gas. This can add to your digestive symptoms after gallbladder removal. To help avoid this, increase the fiber in your diet slowly. Over several weeks, add fiber-rich foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, brown rice, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), and fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Senior woman drinking water
    5. Stay Hydrated
    When you have diarrhea after gallbladder removal, you need to think about hydration. Diarrhea can drain your body of fluids, vitamins and minerals. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or vitamin- and mineral-enhanced beverages. Sports drinks containing sodium, chloride and potassium are a good option when you have diarrhea. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks.

  • mature couple eating dinner at table
    6. Develop Long-Term Eating Habits
    Most people get back to a regular, varied diet once they fully recover. But keep in mind it can take several days for your appetite to return and several weeks for your digestion to normalize. Sticking to a healthy, low-fat diet and eating small, frequent meals instead of a few, large ones may help you feel your best. If your digestion problems don’t go away, call your doctor. It could be a sign of a complication or you may need to take medicine to control your symptoms.

6 Tips on Your Diet After Gallbladder Removal | After Cholecystectomy

About The Author

  1. Life Without a Gallbladder. Johns Hopkins Medicine. http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/reports/digestive_health/3310-1.html
  2. Diets after medical procedures. Emory Healthcare. http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/employee/food-and-you/ask-the-rd-q-and-a.html
  3. Gall Bladder Post-Op. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. http://www.med.unc.edu/gisurgery/patientinfo/gall%20bladder/gall-bladder-post-op
  4. What I Need to Know About Diarrhea. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea_ez/#eating
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 24
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.