Yes to low fat, no to caffeine: 5 tips to alter your diet after gallbladder removal

A gallbladder surgery won't alter your life a whole lot, but you may need to make dietary changes to make it a smooth sail.
gallbladder problems
Gallbladder stones aren't the only reason behind the pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker Published: 28 Jan 2022, 09:53 am IST
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Yes, you can live a comfortable and normal life after gallbladder removal. Gallbladder removal is a commonly performed surgery and the medical term for it is cholecystectomy.

The most common reason of having a cholecystectomy is gallbladder stones. Other reasons include infections, inflammations, gallbladder polyp or as a part of another surgery like Whipple’s surgery.

What does the gallbladder do?

The gallbladder is an elongated sac like organ that is located just under your liver. Its main function is to help in digestion of fatty foods. Bile is produced in the liver but the gall bladder stores and concentrates the bile and releases it as and when necessary. Bile breaks down food and helps in digestion of fat. When you eat food, the gallbladder gets the signal to release the bile and help with the digestion process.

What happens when gallbladder is removed?

Without the gallbladder, all the bile trickles down to the small intestine directly from the liver and bile duct. This is fine for digestion of low-fat food items but if you have just had fatty, greasy, or high fibre food, it can become difficult to digest, especially in the early days after your surgery. Hence, it is important to restrict fatty foods for the first few weeks after gall bladder removal surgery.

Most people with gallbladder surgery can go about their normal routine without any difference and some might experience issues like loose motions, gassiness, bloating etc. However, all these symptoms are temporary and go away in a few months. All you have to do is pay special attention to what you eat while your body adjusts its metabolism to the missing organ.

gallbladder surgery
You need to take care after any and every surgery. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are some simple recovery tips after a gallbladder surgery

1. Give your body some time to recover

If you have had a laparoscopic removal then you will be able to go home within 24 to 48 hours, but that does not mean that you plunge directly into your daily routine. Give your body some rest. Let the rhythm develop. It is advisable to take it easy atleast for a week after surgery.

2. Eat low fat food

It is advisable to have low fat soft foods for the first 2 to 3 days after the surgery. Later on you can have normal diet but ensure that it is low in fat for atleast 4 to 6 weeks. Opt for smaller portions and avoid deep fried food items. Deep fried food is high in fat and causes digestion related problems. Take low fat meals at regular intervals. Stay away from meats, cheese, high fat dairy products, pizza, burgers, patties, chocolate, chips, gravies etc.

fibre food
Cut back on fibre-rich foods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Control the fibre intake

Fibre is important but high fibre content post gallbladder removal can cause bloating and gassy stomach. Therefore, cut down on broccoli, cauliflower, beans, nuts, whole grain or whole wheat bread, high fibre cereals, legumes, sprouts etc. Have all these in moderate quantities.

4. Limit the caffeine intake

Tea, coffee, cola drinks etc. increase the production of stomach acids and increase gas formation. Since the normal amount of bile is now missing from the stomach this can lead to problems like abdominal pain and bloating.

5. Keep a track of what you eat

Make a note of food that suits your digestive system and the ones that do not. Look for eating patterns and adapt your diet accordingly.

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Healthy dietary habits post gallbladder removal will lead to a healthier lifestyle. It is a myth that the absence of gallbladder hampers quality of life in anyway. The fact is that people who have had cholecystectomy live a healthier life and avoid potential serious complications like infection, slipping of gall stones in the bile duct or gall stone pancreatitis.

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About the Author

Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker is a bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon at Dr. Aparna’s Laparoscopy & Bariatric Surgery Centre, Mumbai. ...Read More

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