The gallbladder sits just beneath the liver. It aids in digestion and bile storage. Gallstones are stones that form in your gallbladder. They are usually made of cholesterol or hardened bile, and can range from the size of a grain of a sand to the size of a golf ball. The stones are usually hard and somewhat brittle. When present, they can lead to a great deal of pain. Not all gallstones cause pain. Many are asymptomatic until they move within the gall bladder and block the bile duct. Another time gallstones can become symptomatic is when something (usually a high fat meal) causes the gallbladder to contract and squeeze around the stones.
There are a number of reasons gallstones may develop, including cholesterol, diabetes and rapid weight loss from a very low calorie diet. Once gallstones are present, the main treatment for them is surgery; however, in many cases following a suggested healthy eating diet for gallstones, you can help you to avoid needing to have surgery and minimize the amount of attacks of gallstone pain you experience. Below I have listed five main nutritional tips and if you make these positive lifestyle changes you could really assist your health.
1. Increase your Fibre Intake
Instead of taking a fatty meal, substitute it with more fibres. Some sources of fibres include fresh fruits and vegetables. The fibres in your gallstone diet increase the movement of your digestive tract, thus eliminating the excess fats and toxins in your body. Although they may not eliminate gallstones totally, they can reduce their number and make you feel better.
2. Eat Small Frequent Meals
The diet for gallstones suggests that you eat small but frequent meals. Avoid overconsumption of food, as it can stress the organ. Instead of three full meals, you can distribute your meal to up to six small portions throughout the day. Avoid eating too much late at night. If you do eat a big meal, do not go to sleep right away. The pressure in your stomach can radiate to the nearby liver and gallbladder and cause you more pain.
3. Avoid Fatty Foods
Since bile helps your body digest the fats, a problem in the organ can lead to malfunction in fat digestion. If left untreated, the stress experienced can exacerbate your pain. When you plan your meal, reduce your fat intake. With less stimulation for bile secretion, you can let your organ rest and reduce the symptoms associated with the disorder. Certainly avoid saturated fat and hydrogenated fats.
By increasing your water intake you will help dissolve the stones and flush them out from your body. Avoid alcoholic, carbonated and caffeinated beverages. They will only increase the movement of your gallstones and lead to blockage.
5. Avoid Preserved Foods
When planning for your gallstones diet, avoid incorporating processed products in your meal. The high sodium in them can cause a build-up in the mineral and worsen your condition. Choose fresh ingredients at all times.
I have suggested a diet for Gallstones and I hope this will help anyone who is suffering. Gallstone attacks often come about after eating a fatty meal. While a gallstone diet will not cure gallstones, it may decrease the incidence of gallstone attacks. The key to controlling such attacks is to eat a low fat and low cholesterol diet. Eating in this manner can help to curtail the sharp, colicky pain of a gallstone attack.
So let’s have a look again at What to Avoid
- When seeking to minimize the number of gallstone attacks you have, your best bet is to keep your fat intake levels low. In this case, your fat intake should be less than about ten percent of your overall caloric intake.
Foods that are high in fat and best avoided include:
- Butter, pastry, margarine and oils
- Full fat dairy products including cheese, ice cream, non-skim milk, heavy cream, whipped cream, non-skim yogurt and sour cream
- Cream sauces like Alfredo sauce
- Processed, fatty meats like hot dogs, salami, bolognaise, pepperoni and sausage
- Fatty meats like bacon, marbled beef steaks, duck, lamb, hamburger and non-lean cuts of pork
- Poultry skin
- Fried foods
- Baked goods
- Egg yolks
- Full fat salad dressings or oil and vinegar dressings
- Processed foods like potato chips, crackers and granola bars
- Nuts and nut butters
- Microwave popcorn
Now lets look at What to Eat
While avoiding all of the above may sound like you’re going to be missing out on all of the good things in life, there are still a number of delicious and healthy foods you can include in your diet that won’t cause pain.
These foods include:
- Fresh fruits, berries and lots of coloured vegetables
- Low fat or fat free salad dressings
- Egg whites
- Lean cuts of meat
- Skinless poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Fat-free baked goods
- Low fat dairy like skim milk, non-fat yoghurt, fat-free ice creams and puddings and low fat or non-fat cheese
- Low fat crackers and baked potato chips (in moderation)
- Fruit smoothies made from fruit and non-fat yogurt
- Grains like rice, bulgar, barley and quinoa – cooked without added fat
- Pasta with fresh vegetable-based sauces
- Air popped popcorn
- Fat-free tortillas
- Hard candies and jelly beans
- Fat free mayonnaise
Sample Meal Plan
Here is a sample day’s worth of meals for a gallstone diet.
- Egg white omlette with mushrooms and lean ham
- with Apple juice
- Berries with fat free yogurt
- “Skinny” latte with non-fat milk
- Turkey wrap made with a whole grain, fat free tortilla, non-fat cream cheese, tomatoes and fresh veggies
- Green salad with fat-free vinaigrette
- Sparkling mineral water with a twist of lemon
- Air popped popcorn sprinkled with sea salt
- Green Tea or iced tea
- Baked Fish or lean grilled chicken
- Whole grain pasta
- Steamed vegetables
- Fat-free ice cream sundae