Foods to eat after gallbladder surgery

by Ahsan Sohail
Foods to eat after gallbladder surgery

Like any operation on the digestive tract, cholecystectomy is a big burden on the body. Therapeutic nutrition after removing the gallbladder from the first days should become an assistant for the quickest adaptation of the body to the new conditions of the digestive process. The patient is prescribed specific foods to eat after gallbladder surgery.

From the moment the gallbladder is excluded from the biliary chain, diet and fractional nutrition become the unconditional rule for the rest of life. A gastroenterologist engages in the selection of the correct nutrition after the removal of the gallbladder.

How does the body change after surgery?

After removal of the gallbladder, the liver continues to produce bile and constantly flows into the duodenal space. But in the absence of a “natural accumulator” in the process of digestion, colossal changes occur, not taking into account that you can face unpleasant complications. You can avoid many problems easily by following a proper and nutritional diet after removal.

Even after the removal of the bile, the liver produces up to 2 liters of secretion per day. It flows freely along the bile ducts directly into the duodenum. The bile flow is chaotic and uncontrollable until the liver “learns” to produce acidic fluid at the right time in certain portions. As a result, the following changes occur in the digestive system:

  • Bile enters the initial part of the intestine even in the absence of a food lump in it, which worsens with a negative effect of caustic secretion on the duodenal mucosa.
  • One of the functions of the bladder is the transformation of toxic bile acids into safe compounds. After surgery, the liver, the mucous membrane of the stomach, and intestines deprive of protection.
  • Getting into the intestine of hepatic bile, which has not been “trained” in the gallbladder, leads to disruption of its work – frequent diarrhea.
  • With the insufficient contractile activity of the walls of the biliary tract, the secretion can stagnate in the duct system, which threatens cholangitis (inflammation) or the appearance of stones.

If the patient does not follow a proper diet after removing the gallbladder, the digestive system cannot cope with the previous volume and diet. A huge load falls on the liver, bile ducts, stomach, and duodenum, which affects the quality of digestion and the well-being of a person whose gallbladder has been removed.

Why do you need a diet?

An organ resection entails powerful changes in metabolic processes even if you carry out by a gentle laparoscopic method. Several factors associated with surgical trauma directly influence the human body, such as:

  • Loss of blood and plasma (even insignificant).
  • Temporary lack of oxygen.
  • The effect of drugs.
  • Pain impulse.
  • Severe stress and anxiety.
  • After cholecystectomy, liver function impairs.
  • The process of lipid breakdown and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins deteriorates.

On average, liver adaptation takes about a year. Take this fact into account in the diet after removal of the gallbladder. At first, the slightest deviation from the diet can lead to the development of the post-cholecystectomy syndrome. It is a complication after the removal of an organ, expressed in a dysfunction of the sphincter of Oddi, which causes:

  • Cramping pains in the right hypochondrium of an aching character.
  • Nausea, belching.
  • Rise in gas production in the intestines.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Loose stools.

With the help of a diet after the removal of the gallbladder, you can create maximum rest in the biliary system and reduce the risk of developing unpleasant consequences of the operation to a minimum.

By organizing frequent meals at regular intervals, you gradually achieve a reflex to produce bile at the right time in the optimal volume. An uncontrolled diet, or rather its absence, abundant portions, will bring nothing except for the renewal of unpleasant sensations.

Consequences of non-compliance.

A person with a removed gallbladder needs to understand that the diet after cholecystectomy is not just an auxiliary component for a speedy recovery. The diet table acts like a medicine that can be controlled and controlled by the digestive process.

In case of unwillingness to change eating habits, a patient who has got rid of one disease after surgery, be it a gallstone disease or another pathology of the gallstone, runs the risk of acquiring a new one, probably not so painful, but no less dangerous. The most common complications are:

  • Post-cholecystectomy syndrome with uncoordinated work of the liver, ducts, and sphincters.
  • Extreme bacterial expansion in the intestine leads to diarrhea and constipation. Bile partially ceases to perform its antiseptic function, which leads to an imbalance of microflora in the intestine.
  • Dyspepsia (nausea, heartburn, unpleasant taste in the mouth), heaviness in the right hypochondrium due to insufficient enzyme activity.

One of the most dangerous secondary diseases is the formation of new stones. After removing the gallbladder, the violation of the diet often accompanies congestion in the biliary tract. Metabolic disorders after cholecystectomy do not disappear. Therefore calculi can form in the ducts, which is dangerous for health and the patient’s life.

Treatment for your case.

Basic nutritional rules.

To help the body adapt to the lack of bile, it is important to follow these simple guidelines:

  • The diet should not consist of strict restrictions (except for the first days of the postoperative period). A weakened body needs to receive a balanced diet.
  • A balanced diet should correspond to a ratio of 1:1:2, where ¼ of the total volume are vegetable fats and complete proteins, and the other half are complex carbohydrates.
  • After removing the gallbladder, the diet should be fractional, meaning you must often eat but in limited quantities.
  • The portion should not exceed the volume of one glass, and the time intervals between meals should be of 3-4 hours with an 8-hour night break.
  • To avoid the formation of calculi, foods containing cholesterol must not be a part of the menu.
  • Make sure to process the food thermally. Eating loads of raw vegetables and fruits are not allowed. It can lead to persistent constipation.
  • Doctors recommend steaming, baking, boiling, or in rare cases, stewing the dishes.
  • It is forbidden to eat fried, smoked, and canned products. The digestive organs are not able to cope with such a diet after the operation.
  • Food must be warm. Too hot or cold food will lead to spasms of the bile ducts with pain and dyspeptic disorders.

We must not forget about sufficient fluid intake, drinking water, unsweetened tea, rosehip decoction, and compote. In the absence of contraindications, you need to drink at least 1.5 liters per day. Optimal water and drinking regime will facilitate digestion and maintain normal bowel motility.

What can you eat after cholecystectomy?

One can significantly shorten the recovery period if one follows their doctor’s advice and takes a serious approach to choose products for a therapeutic diet. An experienced gastroenterologist helps construct the patient’s nutritional diet plan after cholecystectomy. The doctor explains to the patients that the food should be fresh, like the food itself, so it is advisable to cook it shortly before eating.

  • Thoroughly cook the food.
  • Finely chop or mash the plant foods and meat.
  • You can add salt in a limited amount, no more than 10g per day.
  • In order not to exceed the norm, salt the dishes after cooking. The same applies to vegetable oil. Add it to ready-made food so as not to violate its useful composition.

List of permitted foods for diet after biliary removal.

  • Buckwheat, oatmeal.
  • Bread products with bran, made from wheat flour, baked the day before.
  • Durum wheat pasta.
  • Meat with a minimum amount of fat – chicken, rabbit, veal, turkey etc.
  • Lean fish – Pollock or carp.
  • Protein omelet from chicken eggs.
  • Fermented milk products – low-fat kefir, cottage cheese, mild cheese, yogurts with a natural composition.
  • Crackers without spices, salt, sugar, dry biscuit, and non-sweet biscuits.
  • Fruits with a sweet taste, such as red apples and ripe bananas.
  • Vegetables without essential oils – carrots, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.

For desserts, after removing the gallbladder, you can eat marshmallows, and marmalade, prepare fruit jelly, and eat honey (in the absence of allergies).

Make sure to boil the porridge well and finely chop the salads. Chew food thoroughly, especially meat and plant foods.

List of prohibited foods.

Regardless of how the affected organ was removed, using laparoscopy or during abdominal surgery, exclude it from the diet:

  • Broths with meat, mushrooms, and fish.
  • Fresh milk, fermented baked milk, soft cheese, and butter-rich in hard-to-digest animal fats.
  • After surgical treatment, the body finds it difficult to perceive ice cream, chocolate, and cocoa drinks.
  • Baked goods, cakes, and pastries with cream are a big no.
  • Lamb, pork, goose, duck, fatty beef.
  • It is not allowed to eat freshly baked bread and puffs.
  • Excessive bile production is caused by sour berries and fruits (kiwi, raspberries, currants, oranges, and others).
  • Vegetables – radishes, spinach, sorrel, garlic, onions, herbs, and cabbage.
  • Hot spices, sauces (ketchup, mayonnaise), mustard, horseradish, and basic spices.
  • You cannot eat hard-boiled eggs or scrambled eggs.

The postoperative diet excludes the use of legumes. Peas, beans, lentils, and soybeans increase the gas formation and promote fermentation processes.

You cannot drink carbonated water, black coffee, strong tea, or concentrated sour juices under a strict ban – on alcoholic beverages.

Do not get carried away with alkaline mineral waters. They belong to the group of hydrocholeretics that activate the formation and excretion of bile, which is undesirable after cholecystectomy.

Diet in a hospital setting.

In the primary days after the operation, the patient remains under the supervision of medical specialists. How long the hospital stay will last depends on the method of surgery.

In practice, preference is given to laparoscopic cholecystectomy, after which inpatient treatment does not exceed 2-3 days. If there are contraindications, the gallbladder is removed by the open (cavity) method, which automatically increases the early postoperative period up to 10 days.

In the first hours after cholecystectomy, eating is not allowed. On the second day, you can drink water without gas, unsweetened rosehip broth – in small portions for several sips, but in limited quantities – no more than 1 liter.

Further, the main goal of the diet after the removal of the gallbladder is the prevention of bile stagnation and dosing the load on the digestive tract:

  • On the second day, you can drink dried fruit jelly, kefir with a low-fat percentage, and weak green tea 2/3 cup every 3 hours. You should get about 1.5 liters of liquid.
  • Two days after removal, you can gradually introduce fermented milk products (low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, yogurt), vegetable puree soups, buckwheat, oatmeal cooked in water, carrot, chicken, veal puree, baked apples into the therapeutic diet.
  • The daily energy value of this diet is 1000 kcal.

According to individual indications, the patient may need intravenous administration of nutrients or mixtures for enteral nutrition.

Diet in the first week after discharge.

The main task of the patient at home is to properly organize the diet and learn how to make a diet menu when removing the gallbladder. An equally important factor is optimizing the water and drinking regime – about eight glasses a day.

You can drink purified water, unsweetened teas, compotes without added sugar, juice, and drinks from non-acidic berries, fruits, and permitted vegetables.

Dishes that the patient can consume in the early postoperative period:

  • Diet meat soufflé cooked in a double boiler.
  • Soup with noodles in milk with a fat content of 1.5% or less.
  • Steam omelet from egg whites.
  • Low-fat natural yogurt and fresh kefir.
  • Cottage cheese casserole.
  • Liquid oatmeal, boiled in water.

The first week is a period of strict restrictions. After this, you can introduce a little variety into the diet.

Diet tips for the first month.

The early adaptation period involves adherence to a diet to provide a gentle load on the digestive system. Within a month after the operation, the processes of food digestion and metabolic reactions are getting better, on the normal course of which a person’s well-being and state of health depend.

The speed and quality of metabolic processes depend on the constant presence of sufficient fluid, vitamins and minerals.

Sample menu for one day:

  • Oatmeal without added milk, sugar, warm rosehip broth, biscuit biscuits
  • AM snack. An apple baked in the oven without cinnamon and other spices is allowed to eat with honey (no more than one teaspoon).
  • Vegetarian soup with small chicken meatballs, stale bread (can be dried in a toaster), steamed Pollock, mashed potatoes with low-fat sour cream, and milk jelly.
  • PM snack. A glass of low-fat cottage cheese with dried fruits.
  • Tomato and cucumber salad with olive oil, steamed veal cutlet, and green tea.
  • Before bed (2 hours in advance). Dairy products – 100 g of low-fat cottage cheese and kefir.

You can continually add delicious new recipes to your postoperative diet, which you can easily find in articles on culinary sites. The main thing is that they do not contradict the principles of medical nutrition after cholecystectomy.

You can ensure the normalization of the digestive process without bile not only by excluding prohibited foods from the menu but also by physical activity positively affecting the functioning of the bile ducts and intestines. When you can start physical education and what exercises to perform, properly discuss with your doctor.

Diet table for six months.

Within six months after the operation, a diet is necessary. You cannot violate it. With indiscriminate food consumption, the liver “will not learn” to produce bile as needed. Therefore, you need to eat five times a day, the sixth – before bedtime. It is desirable to eat at the same hours all the time.

You need to eat in the first six months after abdominal surgery or laparoscopy, strictly following the advice of a doctor. Over time, it will be possible to choose the right diet suitable for a particular patient. It is done by observing the body’s response to certain foods. When discomfort or signs of dyspepsia appear, the doctor adds the product to a personal list of prohibited foods.

One-day menu for the first six months:

  • Cottage cheese casserole with honey and prunes, chamomile tea, and dry biscuits.
  • AM snack. Fruit salad of bananas or sweet apples with yogurt.
  • Pumpkin soup with low-fat sour cream, meat casserole with rice, chopped vegetables, toast, green tea, and marmalade.
  • PM snack. Fruit jelly and banana.
  • Boiled chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and rosehip broth.
  • Before bed (2 hours in advance). Sour milk, dry biscuits.

In some patients, unpleasant symptoms of digestive disorders may occur during the restructuring of the body. When these symptoms appear, doctors recommend that their patients take medications with enzymes.

Meals for the coming year.

After removing the gallbladder, only foods from the permitted list are allowed to eat in the next few months. The recovery period is one year for some patients, and some need to adhere to a specific diet for two years. As a result, digestion returns to normal, and bile’s absence does not affect the usual way of life.

Six months after the operation, the dietary table remains the same. Small indulgences are allowed 1.5-2 years after the operation. The number of fats consumed, fast carbohydrates (sugar), eggs, and dairy products should remain under strict control. But experiments with deviations from the correct diet should not be. For the digestive system to work “like a clock,” – patients eat several times a day at the same time.

The rehabilitation period shortens with the addition of physical activity. These can be short walks or simple exercises. It is useful to go swimming, but only after complete healing of the sutures, especially if an abdominal operation is performed.

Physical activity is important to dose correctly. Therefore, discussing the duration of gymnastics with your doctor in advance will be correct.

Simple recipes.

Many people think that a diet is tasteless, but a year after removing the gallbladder, you can prepare healthy and mouth-watering dishes:

1.   Cauliflower, breaded.

Divide the cauliflower into inflorescences, and immerse it in boiling water for 20 minutes. Crush stale wheat bread, and sprinkle abundantly with boiled cabbage. Then add a tiny softened butter and mix.

2.   Soup with milk and vegetables.

Bring skim milk to a boil, and add finely chopped potatoes, carrots, and a little rice. Cook until cereals and vegetables are cooked until the milk becomes thick. Salt is allowed to be added only after cooking.

3.   Diet fish soufflé.

Boil the fillet of lean fish for 8-10 minutes, finely chop. Combine the egg white with low-fat milk, and beat with a mixer. Gently combine with the fish mass, and put in a baking dish. It is allowed to sprinkle a little greenery on top. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

4.   Carrot salad with honey and raisins.

Grate 100 g of freshly peeled carrots, grate, add 10g of washed raisins, place in a salad bowl, pour 15 g of honey, and garnish with lemon slices.

5.   Fruit salad.

Wash and peel the fruit (30g kiwi, 50g apple, 30g banana, 30g strawberries, and 30g tangerines). Cut the fruits in a salad bowl and season with 20 grams of 10% sour cream.

6.   Buckwheat soup with milk.

Rinse 30 g of buckwheat, pour 300 ml of hot water, boil, add salt, add 250ml of hot milk, 2g of sugar and bring to readiness. Add 5g of butter.

7.   Boiled sea bass.

Peel, wash, cut into small pieces, and boil about 100 grams of perch in salted water. Add 5g of parsley and 10g of chopped carrots.

8.   Steam haddock with butter.

Peel, rinse, and steam about 100g of haddock. Drizzle with 5g of melted butter and sprinkle with 5g of dill.

9.   Low-fat cottage cheese with lingonberries and sour cream.

Grind about 100g of low-fat cottage cheese, pour 20g of 10% sour cream, and sprinkle with sugar with 30g of lingonberries.

10.  Boiled Brussels sprouts.

Rinse about 250g of Brussels sprouts ends and boil in lightly salted water. Drizzle with 10g of butter before use.

Important points!

Patients who have undergone cholecystectomy need to remember that the diet after the operation should become the main principle of their nutrition for many years. If you stick to a sparing diet, you can avoid many problems.

Completely eradicate smoking and alcohol consumption. These bad habits slow down the body’s recovery after surgery.

After removing the gallbladder, you can drink a lot. The liquid dilutes bile and is a catalyst for metabolic processes. A considerable danger is the use of products with cholesterol. They force the liver and pancreas to overextend and increase the viscosity of the secretion. Do not forget about preventive visits to a gastroenterologist, especially if you are concerned about unpleasant symptoms after eating.

Following these diet tips, doing frequent physical activity, and keeping healthy nutrition after the gallbladder surgery, you can get a faster and healthy life ahead!

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