Foods to Avoid With Gallbladder Flareups

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) gallbladder disease includes inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) and gallstones (cholelithiasis). Gallstones result when bile, a digestive substance, creates hard deposits in the gallbladder. Inflammation can occur when gallstones block passages in the gallbladder. Risk factors of gallbladder disease include age, gender, diabetes, overweight or obesity, ethnicity, diet and certain medications. Avoidance of certain foods can help prevent the formation of gallstones and subsequent inflammation of the gallbladder.

High-Fat Foods

According to an article published in 1999 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (AJCN) by Italian researchers a diet high in animal fat increases the risk of gallstones. The Mayo Clinic says a high-fat diet in general is a risk factor for gallstones. High-fat foods include butter, lard, shortening, margarine, mayonnaise, cream, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, coconut and palm oil, chicken skin, fat from meat, commercially prepared baked goods and deep fried foods.

Individuals can reduce fat intake by filling up on fruits and vegetables which are naturally fat free and consuming low-fat dairy products and lean proteins like poultry, egg whites, lean meats, fish, soy, beans and legumes. Reduce fat by removing all visible fat and skin from meat and poultry and cooking with healthy methods like grilling, poaching, steaming, broiling and roasting. The Mayo Clinic says the healthiest fats are from unsaturated sources like fish, nuts, vegetable and olive oils and avocado.

High-Cholesterol Foods

According to the Mayo Clinic a high-cholesterol diet increases the risk of gallstones. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is only found in animal products. High cholesterol foods include meat and organ meats, poultry with skin, certain seafood, eggs, butter, whole milk and cheese. Individuals can lower cholesterol by consuming lean meats and skim milk and using vegetable oils instead of butter and solid fats. Egg whites can be consumed on a low-cholesterol diet because all of the cholesterol in an egg is contained in the yolk.

High-Calorie Foods

Excess calorie consumption can lead to weight gain and obesity, risk factors for gallstones and gallbladder disease. Individuals can reduce their calorie intake by eating more fresh foods and limiting processed and fast foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are naturally low in calories and contain fiber, which according to the Mayo Clinic can prevent the formation of gallstones. Individuals with gallbladder disease or at risk for gallstones should also avoid eating too much sugar. According to the “AJCN” article refined sugars appeared to increase the risk of gallstones. Sugary foods like candy, soda and dessert also tend to be high in calories but offer few essential nutrients.

About this Author

Bethany Fong is a registered dietitian and chef from Honolulu, Hawaii. She has produced a variety of health education materials on multiple topics relating to wellness, and worked in many industries, including clinical dietetics, food service management and public health.