When the gallbladder is diseased or malfunctions, it can require a modified diet called the low-fat gallbladder diet. This dietary approach helps minimize pain and optimize health while dealing with surgery, medical treatments, or following gallbladder removal.
What Is the Gallbladder Diet?
The gallbladder diet is a low-fat regimen designed to allow the gallbladder adequate rest and to prevent common side effects, such as diarrhea, that accompany gallbladder issues. After gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), this diet is helpful in aiding digestion. This is because post cholecystectomy, bile continuously drains into the intestines instead of being secreted when needed, acting as a laxative. Therefore, a gallbladder diet that is low in fat will minimize digestive problems, decrease diarrheal symptoms, and improve quality of life. However, this diet is a short-term diet and once poor digestive symptoms noticeably decrease, a normal, healthy diet may ensue.
Low-Fat Diet for Gallbladder
The gallbladder diet focuses on lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed foods. Because fat cannot be normally digested, the Mayo Clinic recommends slowly adding soluble fiber to the diet to bulk stool, such as oats, barley, soy, fruits without their skin, flaxseed, nuts, and legumes.
Foods to Avoid
For many who suffer from gallbladder disease or gallstones, a low-fat diet is recommended to prevent complications. Foods to avoid include:
- Fried or greasy foods, such as French fries, onion rings, doughnuts, pizza, funnel cake, fried chicken, etc.
- Processed foods, such as chips, cookies, microwave dinners, sweets, candy, etc.
- Highly processed or high fat meats, such as sausage, salami, bologna, bacon, and fatty cuts of pork
- Meat with skin on, such as chicken or turkey
- Products made with refined sugar, such as pies, cakes, ice cream, candy, cookies, some cereals, etc.
- Products with caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, and black tea
- Egg yolks
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta, white bread, crackers, white tortillas, etc.
- High-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, whole yogurts, ice cream, etc.
- Creamy soups and sauces, such as Alfredo sauce, hollandaise, cream of broccoli, lobster bisque etc.
- High fat condiments, such as butter, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, etc.
- For a full list of foods to avoid and consume Eat Right Colorado has complied a comprehensive Low Fat Diet and Menu.
Foods to Include
- Fat-free or low-fat foods or any food containing less than 3g fat per serving
- Whole grains, such as wheat bread, wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
- Lean meats such as skinless chicken or turkey breast, 98% lean ground beef, etc.
- Salmon, tuna, lake trout, herring
- Tofu, seitan, tempeh
- Fruits, such as apples, berries, oranges, kiwi, mangos, or any preferred fruit
- Vegetables, such as greens, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, or any preferred vegetable
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy items, such as low-fat yogurt, part-skim mozzarella sticks, skim milk, etc.
- Natural herbs, such as basil, rosemary, dill, and tarragon
- Eat frequent, small, evenly spaced meals throughout the day.
- Minimized fat use and when using fat, choose good sources such olive oil, avocado, and salmon.
- Avoid carbonated drinks, such as soda, energy drinks, and carbonated waters, which can prompt stones to move and cause more pain.
- If you plan to lose weight, slow steady loss is best.
- Reduce processed, fried, greasy, and convenience foods, such as fast foods, French fries, bacon, sausage, pizza, fried meats, doughnuts, etc.
Some supplements may help on a gall bladder diet.
- Take a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement: A multivitamin can help cover any nutrient deficiencies that might occur during this time. A great daily multivitamin can be found at Pure Encapsulations.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C may help prevent future gallstones. However, it may not be necessary in addition to a multivitamin supplement. Find a good Vitamin C supplement through Vital Nutrients.
- Curcumin: Research has shown that curcumin can reduce gallbladder inflammation and pain associated with gallbladder disease. St. Francis Herb Farm has an excellent curcumin supplement.
What Is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located underneath the liver. It stores a substance created in the liver called bile, which is required for fat digestion. A problem with the gallbladder typically presents itself as gallstones or inflammation. Commonly, the gallbladder must be removed to relieve pain and prevent future gallstones. A low-fat diet can help reduce gallstones and if the gallbladder is removed, can help ease digestion.
The Low-Fat Gallbladder Diet
As with any medical condition, issues with the gallbladder can be overwhelming and life changing. However, adjustments in the diet, such as adopting a low-fat diet until recovery, can aid in complications and improve quality of life.