What to Eat After Gallbladder Surgery

Your gallbladder is responsible for storing and releasing bile to aid digestion of fats. A tendency to develop hard aggregations of calcium, cholesterol or gallstones can block gallbladder opening, requiring you to have your gallbladder removed by surgery. Your liver can still produce sufficient amount of bile for digestion. However, during the initial few weeks post-surgery, it is advisable for you to carefully watch your diet so you can gradually ease your initial discomfort and adjust to the changes of your digestion.

What to Eat After Gallbladder Surgery?

During the first two months after your gallbladder surgery, it’s advisable for you to follow a low-fat and high-in-fiber diet to ease digestion. Meals that are high in fat can result in discomfort as the bile previously stored in your gallbladder is now going to continuously drip into your small intestine. As you recover, your bile duct will eventually enlarge to substitute for the bile storage function and allow you to add back fats to your diet.

Foods to Eat According to Different Periods After Gallbladder Surgery

The first 2-3 days

For the first 2 to 3 days, keep your diet extremely light. Consume lots of fluids including water and clear broths. You should drink fruit juices without pulp like apple, grape and cranberry juice. It’s important to avoid caffeine in the first few days as it can worsen your diarrhea. You can also drink tea and clear soda. Apart from fluids, you can eat Jell-O and fruit popsicles without the fruit bits. Basically it is important for you to have a very light diet and concentrate on drinking lots of fluids.

1-2 weeks

What to eat after gallbladder surgery in this period, you should include soups, mashed potatoes, fruits, toast, rice, applesauce, oatmeal, crackers and chicken. Avoid having creamy soups as they might cause discomfort in digestion. Go for chicken and noodle soups. Use broth as an alternate to butter in your mashed potatoes. Eat fruits in moderation. Try bananas if you are experiencing constipation problems. Use very minimal amounts of butter on toast if needed. It’s better to avoid butter altogether. Avoid rice and applesauce in case you are experiencing problems with constipation. Avoid fried chicken. Alternatively, you can go for baked or grilled chicken.

3 weeks and beyond

At 3 weeks and beyond, you should gradually start introducing high fiber foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. You can start having non-fat yogurt and cottage cheese at this point. You can get protein from fish and chicken but avoid having beef and pork. You should include flax seed oil and hemp seed oil as it contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. You can also have these in the supplement form.

Useful Guidelines for What to Eat After Gallbladder Surgery

  • Avoid large meals and instead eat frequently in small quantities as it eases digestion. You can include small quantities of lean protein in your meals such as fish, poultry, and non-fat dairy along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • ŸInclude fiber in your diet gradually to help normalize your bowel movements. This will also help you in case you are experiencing diarrhea or constipation. But it can worsen gas and cramping.A suitable approach is to increase fiber intake slowly and over a period of a few weeks.
  • If any of the food items mentioned above caused problems like cramps, bloating and gas formation then it is advisable to avoid them after the surgery. If you experience any problems regarding your diet you should consult your doctor.

What Foods to Avoid After Gallbladder Surgery

1. Fried, Greasy, and Junk Foods

Stay away from processed, fried and greasy foods during your recovery period. Food items like fried chicken, fries, and fatty cuts of meat like bacon, ribs, ground beef and sausage must be avoided. You should also stay away from junk food like potato chips and pizza. You don’t have to avoid these food items permanently. You can gradually start having them in small quantities once a month after your recovery period.

2. Whole-Milk and High-Fat Dairy Products

Substitute whole-milk dairy products like full fat yogurt and cheese for low fat dairy products instead. Low-fat and non-fat yogurts and cheese can be easily found in grocery stores. They contain the same nutrients as regular dairy products with the added benefit of having less solid fat as compared to whole-milk dairy products. If you don’t like dairy products, you can go for soy products that contain added calcium and Vitamin-D.

3. Large Amount of High-Fiber Foods

Limit your intake of high-fiber foods during your post-surgery recovery period. Avoid having whole-grain breads as well as nuts, peas, beans and cereals if it is necessary. Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber. If you continue to experience diarrhea after recovery, gradually include high fiber foods to your diet. It is important to increase the amount of fiber gradually to avoid making gas and constipation worse.

4. Caffeine

Getting to know “what to eat after gallbladder surgery” is not enough, you should try to avoid caffeine for example. Caffeine is a diuretic, which stimulates your nervous system and speeds up the digestion process, causing you to urinate more often. Caffeine intake can also cause an upset stomach and lead to worsening of diarrhea. Limit your caffeine intake even after you recover from the surgery. Instead drink more water and drinks with electrolytes to avoid dehydration.

5. Exotic, Spicy Foods

Avoid having spicy food during your recovery period as it can irritate your stomach. You should also avoid gravies, sauces and heavy soups as they usually contain large amounts of fat and butter and are hard to digest. Instead of adding red peppers, garlic and curry to add flavor to your meals, use fresh herbs like rosemary, cilantro, basil, dill and oregano.

When to See a Doctor After Gallbladder Surgery

You should call your doctor in case you experience any of the following problems after your gallbladder removal surgery:

  • ŸSevere abdominal pain
  • ŸContinuous bleeding
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Increasing abdominal swelling
  • Persistent fever over 39°C (101°F)
  • Persistent cough or shortening of breath
  • Chills
  • Severe pain not relieved by medication
  • Worsening of redness surrounding your incisions
  • Pus or purulent drainage from any of your incisions

In addition, consult your doctor if you experience difficulty in eating or drinking fluids or if you have any concerns that are related to your recovery.

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