Diet and Nutrition

Diet After Gallbladder Surgery

Diet After Gallbladder Surgery

The surgical procedure that is performed to get rid of a damaged gallbladder is known as 'Cholecystectomy'. According to a study done by the University of Maryland Medical Center, cholecystectomy is one of the most common procedures among American women.

After a cholecystectomy, you may experience diarrhea that can get better over time or even persist for years after the removal of the gallbladder. Certain foods may make your condition worse, and it is recommended that you take note of any trigger foods you know of.

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Low Fat Foods

Even though one can live without a gallbladder, its role in the digestion process cannot be ignored, especially where fat is involved. The bile that is stored and released by the gallbladder during digestion comes in handy when fat is being digested. After the gallbladder is removed, the bile is forced to flow directly into the small intestine but in a less manageable manner. This can sometimes lead to discomfort, especially after taking foods with high levels of fat. Some experts recommend that you keep away from fatty foods and dairy product after the gallbladder is removed. This is simply because these foods can worsen the diarrhea.

However, you don’t have to keep away from these foods forever, and you can introduce them back into your diet gradually after the diarrhea is gone.

High Fiber Foods

Foods that are high in fiber can help in hardening stool thus reducing the diarrhea that you will experience after the surgery. Good examples of high fiber foods are whole meal bread and brown rice. Introducing the high fiber foods should be a gradual process while you include other foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, and beans. Instead of taking large chunks of food at a time, it is recommended that you take smaller meals more frequently. This will make the digestion process easier.

Foods that are high in fiber can also streamline the movement of food through the digestive system and help avoid bloating. Good examples of foods that have high levels of fiber are:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • All types of beans
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Grapefruits
  • Onions
  • Oatmeal

Caffeine Free, Low Sugar Foods, and Probiotics

Remember to limit foods that are high in sugar and drinks that contain caffeine since they can worsen the diarrhea after surgery. Caffeine gives your body a stimulating effect that accelerates the processes that go on in the body, including digestion, and this can also accelerate the diarrhea. Taking probiotics supplements on a daily basis can make your condition better by increasing efficiency of the digestion process.

Steamed Vegetables

Studies in nutrition research showed that steamed vegetables are good home remedies for reducing diarrhea. They are believed to do a better job compared to raw vegetables. They work by reducing the bile that flows to the large intestine. The specific vegetables that were involved in this study include:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Green bell pepper
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale

Immediate Post-Surgery Diet

It is advisable to follow a bland diet, with foods that can easily be digested. This will give the body time to adjust to the new changes, such as lack of bile during digestion, while undergoing the recovery process at the same time. Here are good examples of these types of foods:

  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Crackers
  • Broth
  • Steamed or braised fish or chicken
  • Eggs
  • Soup
  • Rice

Does Your Gallbladder Have Any Connection with Your Weight?

A connection has always been made between gallstones and diet. Being overweight or underweight can put you at a higher risk of developing gallstones. A diet that is low in fiber, while high in calories and refined carbohydrates will also put you at risk of getting gallstones.

The absence of the gallbladder will not interfere with your digestive system, though it may eventually impact your body weight. However, a few lifestyle changes may help you keep your weight in check and help you live a normal life in the absence of the gallbladder.

Does Gallbladder Removal Cause Weight Loss?

It is quite possible to experience weight loss after your gallbladder is removed. This may be as a result of one of the following:

  • Getting rid of fatty foods – It will take a while for your body to comfortably digest foods that are rich in fats. For this reason, you may be advised to cut down on fatty foods for a while after surgery. This may eventually lead to weight loss.
  • Eating a bland diet – Spicy foods and foods that may lead to gastrointestinal upset will be avoided during the recovery process.
  • Taking smaller portions – You will be advised to take smaller portions of foods frequently rather than taking large portions at one time. This is because your digestive system will need time to adjust to working without the gallbladder. It may have trouble digesting large amounts of food at a time.
  • Recovering – During the recovery process, you may experience pain and discomfort which may last for longer periods and can affect your appetite. This will mostly happen if you undergo traditional surgery and not laparoscopic surgery.
  • Diarrhea – You will probably experience diarrhea for a few weeks after the surgery and it may affect your weight.

You will probably be consuming fewer calories during the recovery process than you were consuming before. This will most likely interfere with your weight, at least for a while.

Managing Your Weight Post-Procedure

It is still possible to keep your weight in check even after having your gallbladder removed. However, weight-loss programs that are short-term and offer quick results may end up affecting your health negatively and should be avoided.

You should instead consider long-term weight loss choices that can easily blend into your lifestyle. This means engaging in regular work outs and adapting a healthier diet. This does not include starving yourself, or denying yourself of all your favorite foods. You can work with weight experts such as nutritionists and dieticians to come up with a plan that suits you.

Other Effects of Laparoscopic Surgery

Apart from the common side effects and risks that come with any surgery, laparoscopic surgery that is used to remove the gallbladder can be accompanied by temporary side effects such as:

  • Loose and watery stool
  • Gassiness and bloating

These side effects can be experienced for up to a few weeks, or even months, but will eventually go away under normal circumstances. However, you should contact your doctor if you feel like the side effects are getting worse by the day, or if you experience other strange side effects.

The Bottom Line

A bland diet is considered to be the best for a few days after the surgery to reduce cases of indigestion and bloating. You should:

  • Get rid of foods that are rich in fats
  • Avoid spicy foods and foods that may cause bloating
  • Reduce your caffeine intake
  • Take smaller portions of foods frequently.

However, once you are fully recovered and your body returns to its normal state, you should be able to resume your previous diet as long as you keep it healthy.