Cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal, is the 5th most common operating procedure performed in the US.
Over 400,000 Americans get the surgery every year.
The side effects of gallbladder surgery usually only last 1 to 3 weeks. But eating the wrong foods during this time can cause discomfort. This is why it’s important to make changes to your diet after gallbladder surgery.
Let’s take a quick look at what dietary changes you can make to help your body adjust to functioning without a gallbladder.
Slowly Increase Your Fiber Intake
Following surgery, you may suffer from occasional bouts of diarrhea. Bile acids make their way in
to your large intestine, acting as laxatives. But soluble fiber can help soak up surplus liquids in your bowel and bulk up your stool.
Eating foods high in fiber can help you avoid both diarrhea and constipation. Some recommended high-fiber foods include the following:
- wholegrain pasta and bread
- brussels sprouts
Don’t eat raw vegetables if gas becomes overwhelming. Instead, steam your veggies first, or opt for the canned variety.
Also, to help your body adapt to the change, increase your fiber intake gradually. Try adding about 7 grams to your daily fiber intake per week over a 3-week period.
Limit Your Fat Intake
The role of bile is to break down fat molecules so your body can digest and absorb the fat you eat. Gallbladder removal reduces the concentration of bile salts. Therefore, you may want to exclude high-fat foods from your diet after gallbladder surgery.
Look for foods that contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving. It’s generally a good idea to make sure you get 20 to 35 percent of your calories from fat. This change might help reduce gastrointestinal pain and discomfort.
Don’t avoid healthy fats, however. Foods like avocados, olives, fish, and nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflation. Just stop eating any type of food if it makes you feel sick.
Eat Smaller Portions
Eating too much food at one time can cause indigestion, heartburn, and bloating. A lower bile concentration can worsen this.
Rather than eating 3 big meals a day, try eating 4 or 5 smaller ones. If possible, space them out evenly throughout the day. Make sure they’re well-balanced and include both lean protein and vegetables.
Dehydration is a common cause of constipation. To avoid straining after surgery, drink plenty of water. You want to aim for about 8-10 cups of water per day.
Though you want to stay hydrated, steer clear of carbonated drinks, as they can cause gas and bloating. Also, avoid alcoholic drinks, juices high in sugar, and high-fat milk.
A bowl of warm chicken broth can help you stay hydrated as well.
Final Thoughts on Changing Your Diet After Gallbladder Surgery
Consider using a food journal to monitor your diet. Write down the ingredients for everything you eat, as this can help you pinpoint foods that cause issues. Also, keep an eye on your daily water intake.
Reach out to a doctor if you experience prolonged diarrhea, severe weight loss, or persistent abdominal pain.
If you have any questions, make sure to check out our educational resources today.