If you [or someone you know] happen to be one of the 500, 000 lucky Americans who have gotten a gall bladder removed in the last 12 months, this article is for you.
If you have had pain that has persisted in any of the below marked regions, you may want to consult with your physician about the status of your gall bladder.
First things first, the gall bladder [pictured below] is not a vestigial organ [i.e. a body part we no longer need based on evolution. Examples of vestigial body parts would be the coccyx or “tail bone” and the appendix]
Much like the kidneys, while the gall bladder is removable, it still serves a valuable function [helping the body process fats] and lifestyle choices post removal should be considered.
Again, I want to stress, lifestyle change, this is not prep for a colonoscopy [as in changes limited to 12 hrs before procedure].
Your gall bladder is not coming back, so these doctor-recommended diet modifications are meant to be incorporated largely as lifestyle changes. The great thing is that these changes are some of the exact same changes that are linked to decrease chances of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity. So good bye gall bladder – HELLO new lease on LIFE!!!
First things first,
Just for background, the reason doctors recommend six small meals post-surgery is because the gall bladder secretes bile which helps digest fats. But it’s not just the kind of fat that’s eaten. It is also the amount of fat eaten at one time that factors into the equation. Smaller amounts of fat are easier to digest. On the other hand, large amounts can remain undigested and cause gas, bloating and diarrhea [and could be the source of those indigestion issues that began a while back….]
[NOTE: IN REGARDS TO THE LIST BELOW, keep in mind these are going to be “good” for you specifically with the gallbladder condition; there are some that will be on the bad list that are only “bad” because of the gall bladder issue [like peanut butter. Peanuts are not a “bad” fat but in the form of peanut butter it is a hard to digest kind of fat…]
Good = easily digested and helps raise HDL [good cholesterol] and lower Triglycerides [blood fats, which are high when the gall bladder is not working]
- Fish oil [either from supplements or from salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines]
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Flaxseeds/flaxseed oil/flaxseed meal [omega-3’s]
- Raw nuts [not in butter form] i.e. brazil nuts, walnuts almonds, cashews, hazelnuts [no more than ¼ cup at a time]
- Avocados – If you are allergic to bananas or rubber – DO NOT eat avocados they are in the same food family
- Dark chocolate [1 oz]
Bad = hard to digest and lowers HDL [good cholesterol] and raises Triglycerides [blood fats, which are already high when the gall bladder is not working]
- Trans fats [think: anything fried that you did NOT make yourself]
- Milk chocolate
- Most creamy sauces [think: alfredo sauce, hollandaise sauce, thicker dressings]
- Nut butters
- Animal fats [think: any meat that will be greasy when cooked]
- Full fat dairy products [milk, yogurts, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, cheese of any kind] ** most people report a lot of trouble digesting dairy in general after gall bladder removal, so take it lightly in the dairy department even if it is fat-free or low-fat
- Caffeine and alcohol will likely aggravate your system. Allow about 2 weeks healing before having any alcohol or caffeine – this includes diet sodas and any drinks with artificial sweeteners
Once you restart alcohol in to your diet [which, HELLO, is a must for 90% of us] start slow and opt for clear liquor like vodka or tequila or red wine. Tread lightly with beer and see how it goes. If you notice discomfort re-assess. Otherwise re-add slowly
- Increasing Fiber is huge. Fiber can come from grains, fruit, or vegetables
o Opt for grains that have protein built- in
- Brown Rice
- Whole wheat
- Quinoa [a grain sold in bulk or boxed at most grocery stores. Cooked just like rice with water except with x4 the amount of protein!]
o Increasing fruits and vegetable intake is huge
- Nice thing is they are easy snack foods and pair well with a handful or two of nuts for a small meal – REMEMBER – at 6 small meals a day a meal is now only 300 calories. ¼ cup of nuts will have anywhere from 160 to 200 calories – add a cup of fruit of your choice or some veggies drizzled in olive oil and THAT IS A MEAL
- Apples and prunes are particularly high in fiber and help raise HDL cholesterol
- At least 60 oz of water daily – the added fiber from the fruits and veggies need water to move through your digestive tract – otherwise you may experience indigestion, gas, bloating, etc
- Opt for fish and beans/quinoa as your #1 source of protein. Re-add lean red meat and poultry slowly after the first week and stop if you experience gastro-distress [i.e. gas, bloating, pain]
- Also, low fat/ non-fat dairy is a GREAT source of protein and the calcium/Vit D is very much needed but proceed slowly in re-adding as not everyone can handle dairy right away. Try a bit and see how you feel. Greek Yogurt is the best. Just watch for sugars in the flavored kind. Aim to stay below 15 grams a serving.
Additional Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Drop me a line in the comments section or send confidential email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, Stay Well.