It’s been about eight months since I had my gallbladder and bile duct removed. The first couple of weeks of recovery were rough, but since then, I’ve healed up well and it’s barely even an after thought now. I will say though, it did take some time for my tummy to get back to normal. Even now, I still have some digestive issues on occasion, but they’re much less frequent than they were. Here are my best tips for eating well after gallbladder removal.
- Take it slow. Prior to my surgery, I ate a fully vegan diet in order to prevent any gallbladder attacks. While this was successful, I really wanted some fried chicken. Wouldn’t you know, my very thoughtful supervisor brought me some fried chicken while I was home recovering! It tasted so good, but I was so sick after that. Those first few days, maybe even week or two, take it easy with your diet, nothing too heavy, greasy, or hard to digest. Stick with simple, whole foods. You’ll thank me later when your digestive system is all healed up and you can eat that fried chicken without a worry.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is always important, but it’s especially important to the healing processes of the body. Make sure you sip on water throughout the day, and try to avoid gulping large amounts all at once.
- Watch those movements. No, not your arms and legs, though you should listen to your body and doctor for what activity you’re ready for; I’m talking about bowel movements. You want to make sure you’re having regular bowel movements and that you aren’t getting constipated. Watch your fiber count to help keep you regular. You may need to slowly increase your fiber intake after the surgery as too much too fast can also cause problems.
- Keep meals small and light. Smaller meals throughout the day are easier to digest and will likely be gentler to your belly. It is especially important when you start to add back in those heavier foods (hello fried chicken!) to try to keep portion sizes smaller at first and work back up to a full portion.
- Avoid late night eating. This has been a big one for me. Avoid eating late at night, especially just before bed. Try to also make sure you have some activity after your last meal, a walk around the block or doing household chores, rather than just sitting down to watch TV. Moving helps to keep the digestive system going and helps to naturally massage your bowels. This will help keep you regular and help get that last meal digesting before you go to sleep.
- Watch the sweets and spices. I love me some chocolate. Oh and chips and salsa. Yum yum. But, right after surgery I noticed that sweets would upset my stomach quite easily (I had to skip the Christmas hot chocolate!) and that spicy foods would give me some indigestion that wasn’t normally there. Keep your sweets and spicy foods in moderation at first until you find your tolerance (or sweet spot, haha).
- Call your doctor! If you have any major stomach troubles, can’t keep anything down, haven’t had a bowel movement in a week, pain, anything big and troubling, call your doctor or surgeon to check in. Especially if your symptoms don’t go away or get better with a change in diet, you need to see your doctor just to make sure everything is okay.
Most people can go back to eating their normal, everyday diet within a short amount of time. Depending upon how your specific body heals, and what your normal diet consists of, you might need to make some adjustments. Listen to your body, get any serious concerns checked by your physician, and may you find health in your new gallbladder-free self.