Upper abdominal pain can be a symptom of any number of different things, but if it's accompanied by yellowing of the skin, dark urine and pale poop, you may be dealing with a blocked bile duct. Bile is a substance made in your liver that helps you digest fat. If your bile duct is blocked, due to gallstones, cysts or scarring, the bile stays in the liver, and you may have a difficult time digesting fat and may need to follow a low-fat diet.
How Much Fat
The amount of fat you can have on your low-fat diet depends on your tolerance. While you need bile to help digest fat in food, your small intestine contains other enzymes, called lipases, that also help. Typically, fat is limited to 50 grams a day on a low-fat diet for a blocked bile duct, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. For perspective, 1 teaspoon of oil contains 5 grams of fat, and a 3-ounce piece of roasted chicken breast contains 3 grams of fat.
What to Eat
When following a low-fat diet, include foods that are naturally fat-free or low in fat. Fruits, vegetables and grains prepared without sauces are naturally fat-free. Include lean meats such as beef or pork tenderloin, flank steak or pork chops, poultry without the skin, fish, eggs and 95 percent fat-free deli meat. Beans, including chickpeas and kidney beans, are also good sources of protein and low in fat. For dairy, use nonfat milk and yogurt, and cheese with less than 3 grams of fat per serving. Limit added fat, which includes oils and nuts, to no more than three servings a day on your low-fat diet. One serving of added fat is equal to 1 teaspoon of oil or peanut butter, six almonds or 2 tablespoons of avocado.
Things to Consider
While it's important that you include low-fat and fat-free foods in your diet, you also need to think about how food is prepared when following a low-fat diet for bile duct obstruction. Instead of frying food, bake, broil or steam your food to limit fat. Trimming the fat from your meats before cooking also helps decrease fat content. Read food labels on packaged goods to help you keep track of your daily fat gram intake. Look for fat-free sauces and dressings for your pastas and veggies.
Sample Meal Plan
Include three meals on your low-fat meal plan for blocked bile. At breakfast, you might enjoy a bowl of unsweetened whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk and a banana. A low-fat lunch might include lean deli turkey stuffed into a whole-wheat pita with lettuce, tomato and mustard, served with fat-free yogurt, fat-free whole-grain crackers and an apple. For dinner on your low-fat diet, you might try grilled fish with a plain baked sweet potato with steamed broccoli and a dish of strawberries.
- MedlinePlus: Bile Duct Obstructions
- Jackson-Seigelbaum Gastroenterology: Low-Fat Diet
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Fat-Restricted Diet
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Oil, Olive, Salad or Cooking
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted
- U.S. Dry Bean Council: Nutritional Values of Cooked Beans