So, you’ve gotten a cholecystectomy. The hard part is over! You’re now on the path towards a healthier and happier life. Nevertheless, you might still be worried about having discomfort in your post-surgery life, especially within your digestive system. In this article, we’ll break down what you should eat after gallbladder removal surgery to reduce any uncomfortable symptoms, such as post-surgery irritation.
First, let’s start with a refresher about the gallbladder and its functions.
What is a gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small, round organ located underneath your liver, on the upper right side of your body. It has two jobs:
1. To store bile, a naturally occurring fluid composed of water and various fatty acids.
2. To deliver bile to the small intestine, where its acidic nature allows it to break down vitamin and nutrients obtained from our food and ensure they are absorbed by our bloodstream.
Why was my gallbladder removed?
The human body, marvelous in structure and design, is by no means perfect. Over time, the gallbladder may not be able to maintain its efficient methods, leading to the formation of gallstones: small, hardened deposits that can cause abdominal pain. By removing the gallbladder, you have eliminated what was no doubt a source of intense discomfort, and are reducing the likelihood of developing more complicated, life-threatening issues, such as a sepsis infection or jaundice.
Can changing my diet after gallbladder removal surgery help reduce pain?
Some pain following gallbladder removal surgery is normal. After all, your liver has taken over the responsibilities of the gallbladder and is now both producing and storing bile, tasks it was not originally designed for. As a result, some bile may leak out and drip into the small intestine, causing painful or inconvenient bowel movements. And because no organ has taken over the job of delivering bile to the small intestine, your body will have a harder time breaking down the fatty foods you consume, resulting in cramps.
Thankfully, there is a way to make things easier on your body and reduce any possible pain: changing your diet after gallbladder removal surgery.
In the first few days following your gallbladder removal surgery, it is crucial to eat soft, bland foods that can be digested without excess strain. You’ll want to skip any celebratory post surgery dinners or parties, and instead consume the following:
- Mashed potatoes
- Soft boiled or lightly scrambled eggs
- Steamed chicken or fish (not excessively seasoned or fried)
Don’t worry—you’ll only need to follow this diet for a few days after your surgery. But even after you feel fully recovered, it’s important to stay away from foods that may irritate your stomach. Think about making long-term changes to your diet by sticking to the following food groups:
What to eat after gallbladder removal surgery: fiber-rich foods
Fiber is an indigestible part of food that comes in two types: soluble and insoluble. Both are necessary for having a healthy lifestyle, but adding more soluble fiber to your diet after gallbladder removal surgery can help regulate your bowel movements. Consider eating the following:
- Brussel sprouts
- Chia seeds
- Steamed vegetables
What to eat after gallbladder removal surgery: healthy fats
Although having your gallbladder removed does make it more difficult for your body to process fat, you must still eat some fat in order to be healthy! Healthy fats are fats that are naturally occurring—not the fat that stems from sugar, refined carbs, and over processed food! Some healthy, high-fat foods are:
- Coconut oil
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
What to eat after gallbladder removal surgery: lean protein
To round out your diet after gallbladder removal surgery, be sure to include various lean meats. Since you do not need your gallbladder to digest any kind protein, feel free to eat as much as you want — within reason, of course. Just be sure to forgo fatty options like bacon for leaner cuts, such as:
- Chicken breast
- Pork tenderloin
In addition to making changes to what you eat, you might want to consider making changes to how you eat. You might find you have trouble consuming large amounts of food in one sitting after you have gallbladder removal surgery. If so, it may be better to break up your meals—making two into four, for example. If you fear losing weight, feel free to eat as much you did prior to surgery. As long as you divide it up and space it out over the course of a day, you can eat the same amount and maintain your desired weight without sacrificing comfort.
How can I save money on my gallbladder removal surgery?
Making these changes to your diet can help you have a faster, more comfortable physical recovery following your gallbladder removal surgery. But what about your financial recovery? The national average cost for gallbladder removal surgery is $15,250. That price tag may be enough to tempt you to put off scheduling your surgery, but it doesn’t have to be.
New Choice Health’s gallbladder assistance program helps uninsured and underinsured patients find discounts and financing options for important surgery. Discover how New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program could save you up to $10,000 on your gallbladder removal surgery today.