Best Diet After Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy) – Science Based

Best Diet After Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy)

If you had a gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), your digestive system will still continue to function after removing your gallbladder, but you may have to change your diet. The best type of diet after a gallbladder removal includes foods high in fiber and low in fat. Your diet after gallbladder surgery should also limit acidic and fatty foods, as these may cause digestive upset.

After a cholecystectomy, your digestive system will take some time to adjust. Although your liver will continue to produce digestive bile, you may find it more difficult to digest fatty foods. This is especially so in the first few months after surgery. Therefore, some changes to your diet after a cholecystectomy can prevent frequent episodes of diarrhea or other digestive issues such as bloating, nausea or heartburn.

In this article, you will find out what the best diet after gallbladder removal should include. This includes foods you should avoid and foods to include to help you recover faster.

What Does the Gallbladder Do?

Your gallbladder forms part of your biliary system and assists in digesting and breaking down fat from food. It stores bile which is produced by the liver.

Dr. Vinay Kumar Kapoor, a specialist in gastroenterology surgery, says that your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac in your upper right abdomen. The gallbladder is up to 10 cm in length and is located just below your liver. Your gallbladder contains between 30 and 50 mL of digestive bile.1

Problems with your gallbladder that can lead to gallbladder removal include gallstones, cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation), or gallbladder infection.

Symptoms of gallbladder attack can include:

Why You Need to Change Your Diet After Gallbladder Surgery

After gallbladder surgery, many people may have to change their diet to avoid unpleasant digestive problems.

The Asian Journal of Surgery reports that loose watery stool up to 3 months after gallbladder removal is not uncommon.2 According to gastroenterologist, Dr. Jay W. Marks, diarrhea after a cholecystectomy occurs because of the way bile is delivered from the liver to the intestine.3

Foods to Eat After Gallbladder Surgery (Cholecystectomy)

A gallbladder surgery recovery diet should include foods that are easy to digest and are low in fat. Dr. Elizabeth Rajan from the Mayo Clinic explains that after gallbladder surgery, bile is less concentrated and less effective at digesting fat. Also, bile continually flows into the intestine, causing a laxative effect.4

The UNC School of Medicine reports that immediately following surgery, many people find that a bland diet causes less stress on the digestive system.5

What are the best foods to consume after surgical removal of your gallbladder?

Dr. Jan Sambrook on says that some foods that are easy to digest and can help to prevent complications when you have had your gallbladder removed can include:6

  • Foods that are high in fiber. Fiber should be introduced gradually following a gallbladder procedure.
  • Lean meat like chicken, turkey, or extra lean beef.
  • White fish.
  • Low-fat dairy products. You can also use some great alternatives to dairy if you are lactose intolerant.
  • Whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain bread.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Foods to Avoid After Gallbladder Surgery

To help your digestive system recover after a cholecystectomy, there are certain foods that you should try to avoid. It will take some time, perhaps some months, for your digestive system to recover fully and function properly.

To help avoid chronic diarrhea and reduce excess gas following gallbladder surgery, some foods to avoid include:

  • Food high in fat like butter, oils, fatty red meat and pork.
  • Processed meats like salami, sausages and burgers.
  • Rich desserts that contain whole milk or cream.
  • Creamy sauces like mayonnaise.
  • Eggs because of their high cholesterol content.

Long-Term Diet After Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder removal)

Should you stick to a long-term diet plan after having surgery for gallbladder removal? The answer to this question depends on symptoms that you experience post cholecystectomy.

The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine reports that some people who have had their gallbladder removed continue to experience symptoms for as long as 3 months after surgery. It was found that they generally consumed more animal protein, eggs, and bread-based foods. They also generally consumed fewer vegetables in their diet. The data analysis indicated that the risk for symptoms after cholecystectomy was associated with intake of animal protein, cholesterol and eggs, but was not associated with intake of vegetables.8

According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, patients who have had their gallbladder removed can suffer from post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS). Some reports say that up to 40% of gallbladder surgery results in PCS. To help minimize the digestive upset caused by gallbladder removal, doctors recommend a long-term diet after a gallbladder procedure to prevent digestive upset.9

Also, you should try eating small frequent meals in the absence of your gallbladder to help prevent stress on your intestines.

Gallbladder Removal Diet – Tips to Minimize Discomfort After Surgery

To help your intestines digest food with minimal discomfort after gallbladder removal, it’s essential to follow a few tips when it comes to gallbladder diet.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic recommend a few ways to help reduce intestinal discomfort after having your gallbladder removed.10

  • Gradually add solid foods to your diet. In the first few days after gallbladder surgery, just consume broths and clear liquids.
  • Eat smaller, low-fat meals. Eating smaller portions puts less strain on your digestive system. You should also avoid foods that cause gas and contain a lot of fat.
  • Avoid high-fat foods. As already mentioned in this article, high-fat foods soon after gallbladder removal will result in bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
  • Gradually include fiber. A healthy diet needs to include appropriate amounts of fiber. Try to gradually introduce legumes, nuts, and green leafy vegetables to your diet to minimize discomfort after a cholecystectomy.
  • Keep a food journal. Keeping track of foods you eat and any gastrointestinal symptoms you experience can help to identify any trigger foods.

Some people wonder about consuming coffee and caffeinated drinks after having their gallbladder removed. Doctors from the National Health Service say that you should avoid drinks containing caffeine. Coffee and tea can aggravate symptoms of digestive upset after gallbladder surgery.11

Although green tea contains caffeine in smaller amounts than coffee or black tea, you could still try drinking more green tea in your diet. The International Journal of Preventative Medicine reports that green tea contains antioxidants that improve the health of your liver. Green tea decreases the production of enzymes in the liver that can lead to inflammation.7

Another food to avoid for a few weeks after gallbladder removal is eggs. A study from 2017 found that patients who had a cholecystectomy and ate eggs continued to experience diarrhea and flatulence for some months after surgery.8

Although some people claim that olive oil can help to prevent gallstones from forming as part of a gallbladder cleanse, you may want to avoid olive oil right after surgery. Olive oil is a fatty food and can cause digestive problems in the first few weeks after the removal of your gallbladder. After some time, you can start to introduce olive oil back into a gallbladder diet as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Vitamins or Supplements to Take After Gallbladder Removal

Some people believe that you need to take supplements to help improve your digestion after surgery to remove a gallbladder. Should you take bile salts after having your gallbladder removed?

Researchers from Harvard Medical School report that gallbladder surgery doesn’t stop the production of bile. Your liver continues to produce bile for the digestion process and this goes directly to the intestines. So, Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff says that there is usually no real reason to take bile salts after gallbladder removal.12

If you continue to experience problems with your digestion, you should speak to your doctor. There are some conditions when bile salts are recommended.

Let’s look at some of the popular vitamins and supplements that may assist in digesting food post-gallbladder surgery.

Bile salts

In some cases, bile salts may be useful post-cholecystectomy to help reduce digestive symptoms after your operation.

Doctors from Italy say that people with symptoms of post-cholecystectomy syndrome may benefit from bile salts. These can help to reduce intestinal discomfort like indigestion, excess gas, and diarrhea.13

Some people recommend different types of bile supplements like ox bile. However, most research only points to bile salts as being effective to reduce some of the symptoms that gallbladder removal causes. In some cases, taking bile supplements can cause too much bile in your stomach which can lead to bile reflux and abdominal discomfort.


When recovering from your gallbladder surgery, you might find that taking probiotics can help to improve your digestive symptoms.

Dr. David Kiefer on WebMD says that probiotics help “good” bacteria to flourish in your gut. The benefit to your gut microflora is that they help to reduce the number of digestive problems. For example, numerous studies have shown that taking probiotics regularly can help to reduce symptoms of diarrhea and reduce inflammatory conditions in the digestive system.14

Other studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics have a positive effect on liver health and benefit your biliary system.15

Artichoke leaf extract

Artichoke leaf extract can help to increase bile production so you may want to include it in the list of foods to eat after cholecystectomy.

A study from 2013 reported that artichoke leaf extracts have a choleretic action (increase bile production).19 This can improve the digestion of fats and help reduce digestive symptoms after your operation.

Vitamins to take after gallbladder removal

Certain types of intestinal surgery, including gallbladder removal, could impact how your digestive system absorbs vitamins from food. This can mean that after having your gallbladder removed, you may need to take some vitamins.

BMJ Specialty Journals found that many people after gallbladder surgery develop a vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is necessary for good vision and to keep the immune system healthy.16 Also, gallbladder removal has been linked to vitamin B12 deficiencies.17

You should speak to your doctor about appropriate vitamin supplements that you need to take if you have had a cholecystectomy.

Weight Loss After Gallbladder Removal

You may experience some weight loss after having your gallbladder removed. One of the main reasons for this is due to the gallbladder diet which is generally low in fat. In the days after surgery, you may also have a reduced appetite.

Some of the reasons for losing weight after gallbladder removal can include:

  • Low-fat foods. Switching to foods that are lower in fat can help reduce overall calorie intake. To maintain a healthy weight and avoid piling on the pounds, try to stick to the good eating habits you develop post-gallbladder operation.
  • Eating smaller portions. Another reason for losing weight is eating smaller portions to prevent strain on your digestive system.
  • Bland diet. Some doctors recommend switching to the bland diet while recovering from surgery. Very often, this includes foods that are easy to digest and are low in calories.

Weight Gain After Gallbladder Removal

For some people, maintaining a healthy weight after having their gallbladder removed is difficult. In fact, you may find that you gain weight after your gallbladder procedure.

The British Medical Journal published a study showing that around three-quarters of people who had undergone gallbladder surgery experienced weight gain. The reason that doctors pointed to was the reintroduction of fatty foods sometime after the surgery. With some patients, obesity was the reason for gallstones and a cholecystectomy and they resorted to poor eating habits post operation.18

After having your gallbladder removed, it is important to stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet. Doctors from the National Health Service say that after  a gallbladder surgery you should eat fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, seeds, nuts and oats.11

When to See a Doctor

If you continue to experience digestive upset for many weeks after your gallbladder operation despite sticking to the gallbladder diet, you may need to speak to your doctor.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic advise speaking to your doctor if you have the following symptoms after your gallbladder operation:

  • Persistent upper abdominal pain that becomes very intense.
  • Yellowing of the skin indicating a problem of bile pigment in your blood.
  • Severe nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Not passing any stool or gas for more than 3 days after your cholecystectomy.
  • Persistent diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days after your gallbladder procedure.

Related articles:

Medical Sources

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  4. MayoClinic. Is there a gallbladder diet I should follow?
  5. UNCEdu. Gall bladder post-op.
  6. PatientInfo. Gallstone diet sheet.
  7. Int J Prev Med. 2016; 7: 28.
  8. Korean J Intern Med.2017 Nov 10.
  9. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 July; 114(7): 1136.
  10. ClevelandClinic. 5 ways to avoid discomfort after your gallbladder removal.
  11. NHS. Do I need to change my diet after gallbladder surgery?
  12. HealthHarvard. Do I need to take bile salts after gallbladder surgery?
  13. Ann Ital Chir.1993 Sep-Oct;64(5):533-7.
  14. WebMD. When can probiotics help?
  15. Perm J. 2013 Fall; 17(4): 62–67.
  16. ScienceDaily. June 15
  17. Br Med J. 1980 Sep 27; 281(6244): 831–833.
  18. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984 Nov 17; 289(6455): 1350.
  19. Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2013 Mar;80(1):17-26.
  20. Feature Image source – wiki commons

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