The gallbladder is a pear-shaped pouch that sits just under the liver. It’s main function is to store the bile made by the liver. The gallbladder then releases bile into the intestines as needed to digests fats. The more fat in the meal, the more the gallbladder works.
Most “gallbladder diets” aim to reduce the workload on the gallbladder. They remove foods that could cause gallstones and reduce painful symptoms caused by gallbladder disease. As you can imagine, reducing high-fat foods is one of the main tenants of a diet to deal with gallbladder disease.
The following foods should be avoided on the gallbladder diet:
Fried or greasy foods
Whole-fat dairy and whole milk
Processed (“junk”) foods
Healthy foods for gallbladder issues include:
Whole foods, fruits and vegetables
Lean, low-fat meats
Low-fat dairy and low-fat or skim milk
*Some research also indicates that moderate alcohol, drinking (caffeinated) coffee and eating peanuts may also be beneficial in preventing gallstones. However, there is not enough research to recommend these foods across the board.
As is true for most Americans, the healthy foods listed on the gallbladder diet are also good foods for people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease to incorporate into their healthy eating plan. While the diet is not geared toward IBD, it could help lessen symptoms.
However, if you find that fatty foods continue to cause severe pain, especially if the pain is in your upper right side (under the rib cage) then talk to your physician. It may be that you have issues with your gallbladder that may be mimicking IBD pain. Gallbladder disease is treated much differently that IBD so it is important to differentiate between the two diseases.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.