Surgeons perform an open or laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ that sits atop the liver along the upper right side of the body. Conditions that may call for gallbladder removal surgery include gallbladder inflammation, gallstones in the bile duct or in the gallbladder itself and pancreatic inflammation affecting normal gallbladder function. Although no specific diet for post-gallbladder removal existed at the time of publication, some physicians and registered dietitians recommend patients adhere to certain dietary guidelines to avoid diarrhea and intestinal discomfort after the surgery.
Your liver secretes bile, a digestive fluid that helps break down ingested fats. The gallbladder normally stores and releases bile when necessary to assist fat digestion. After gallbladder removal surgery, the liver continues to secrete bile and release it into the small intestine. The absence of the gallbladder can cause bile release to become erratic, which in turn can provoke pain, discomfort and diarrhea after meals, especially high-fat meals.
Recommended Dietary Strategy
Patients post-surgery are advised to consume small meals throughout the day to help the body through the transition from relying on the gallbladder to assist digestion. This might ensure better bile transfer, according to registered dietitians Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson of MayoClinic.com. Consuming small meals throughout the day encourages the body to create smaller amounts of bile at one time. Compose meals of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and small amount of lean proteins such as nonfat dairy, chicken, turkey or fish. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as soda, greasy foods and very sweet foods, which can lead to diarrhea after gallbladder surgery.
Recommended Fat Intake
Patients are advised to avoid high-fat foods such as fast food, fat-laden gravies and sauces and fried foods. These foods can overtax bile production. Minimize bile production by eating foods with 3 grams fat or less per serving. Although you need to read nutrition labels to be certain of a food's fat content, well-known low-fat foods include fat-free ice cream, plain low-fat yogurt, extra-lean ground beef, egg whites and trimmed pork loin.
It is wise to take a probiotic supplement every day to better manage discomfort and pain associated with gallbladder removal surgery, writes Dr. David Katz on Oprah.com. Katz is a nutrition expert and director of Yale's University's Prevention Research Center. Katz says the beneficial bacteria in probiotic supplements can help the body better digest food.
Do not use a post-gallbladder removal surgery diet on your own. Speak to your doctor about incorporating this diet into your recovery regimen before adopting it to prevent food-related complications resulting from your surgery.