What You Can and Can’t Drink After Gallbladder Removal

man holding glass of refreshing water

Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy is one of the most straightforward, common, and safe general surgery procedures in the United States. Millions of these procedures are performed yearly, and there are many myths and misconceptions about the surgery, especially regarding postop diet, weight gain, and what you can or cannot drink. This blog will discuss the latter to ensure you are as comfortable as possible after your gallbladder removal.

Will You Have Dietary Limitations?

It is worth noting that you do not have any specific dietary guidelines after your gallbladder surgery. What we are discussing today will help you reduce any discomfort associated with the change in anatomy.

To understand more about what you should or shouldn’t drink after gallbladder removal, we must learn more about the anatomy and function of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ attached to the liver. It serves as a reservoir for bile, which helps you digest fats. While you can live without your gallbladder, its removal means that your body relies on the liver alone to produce bile. Before the gallbladder removal, your liver would produce a relatively consistent amount of bile, and excess bile would be stored in the gallbladder. Now, the liver must adapt to variations in your food and drink consumption to match bile secretion to fat inputs.

As a result, what you drink and how much of it you drink do make a difference.

First, as it relates to what you drink after gallbladder surgery, try to be relatively consistent. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. This is just good practice to ensure that your body functions at its most efficient levels. Then, if you are drinking sugary drinks (try to keep them to a minimum), consume them slowly. The same goes for any drinks that contain fats. High-fat drinks can include obvious options as well as some that are marketed as very healthy, including:

  • Whole Milk
  • Cream and Half & Half
  • Coconut Milk
  • Nut Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Oat and Grain Milk
  • Seed Drinks (including chia)

It’s not so much that these drinks and ingredients can’t be consumed…Some are indeed very healthy. It is more about the fat content that may cause gastrointestinal upset if consumed quickly and in large quantities. It is also important to note that many of these ingredients can cause weight gain, especially after gallbladder removal, because of the tendency to liberalize your diet when there’s no direct feedback (pain) from consuming high-fat drinks.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal upset after your gallbladder removal, it can be helpful to try an elimination diet where you remove all potential irritants and slowly add them back one by one. Contact our office to learn more about the ideal post-cholecystectomy diet.

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