Skip to content
in this discussion +40 following
Marco01 Marco01

Diet for Gallstone sufferers?

Hi There

I have increasingly had bad episodes of gallstone attacks.

I know I should be avoiding high fat, high cholesterol foods, but is there anything in particular that I should leave out completely?

More importantly, is there any guide as to what is OK to eat?

I really am completly drained by these attacks. I have had 3 severe attacked in the past 5 weeks, two of which have landed me in A&E.

Each time my symptoms have been a little different but one thing that is constant throughout each has been excruciating and paralysing pain throughout my abdominal area, up to my chest, and down my back.

My last attack was Tuesday and the pain nearly had me in tears. I didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't sit, stand, lie down ... nothing. All I was experiencing was pain and difficulty breathing. I had no choice but to go the A&E where they gave me some Codeine and did blood tests. Luckily the pain subsided, but only after some 6 hours.

Before that my last attack was 3 weeks ago where I had the same pain, but on top of that had a temperature, jaundice, dark urine, pale stools, back pain, intense itching and nausea. It turns out it was caused by a stone blocking the bile duct. I was in pretty bad shape for a whole week.

Overall my experiences have drained me of energy and I really REALLY do not want to go through anything else like this again. I am booked in to see a specialist and I hope they will book me in for surgery soon.

In the meantime, I want to make sure I do everything I can to avoid another possible attack as I do not know how much I can cope with the pain. Tuesday night was the final straw for me ... I would have rather someone knocked me out than have gone through that. It was sheer agony.


87 Replies

  • vixen vixen

    i was on an almost fat free diet for 6 months awaiting surgery, like you i had jaundice and as a result did not drink alcohol in this time either - a bit of bad luck as i got sick 8 days before christmas sad sad . i found i exsisted on lots of fruit and veg and wholegrains. i also decided that if i was going to have these dietry restrictions enforced on me i was going to make the best of what i ate. as a vegetarian i did not have the problem of hidden fat in meat, but worked out how to make many of my favorite meals without adding fat, curries, chilli, pasta sauce etc, i took salad to work in a lunch box to eat at lunch instead of buying a mayo laden sandwich, i snaked on fruit instead of crisps, i also learned how to make my own soups and how to use herbs and spices in my cooking. i learned so many cooking skills in that time.

    i hope you find ways of enjoying food you like that you can eat and that you find relief from your stones soon.


  • Gemini Gemini

    Although staying to a low fat diet usually helps unfortunately it does not help completely. I am due to have my gallbladder out on the 25th having suffered attacks for well over 18months (not knowing it was gallstones).

    I have lost 3st 6lbs and food has become an enemy. I found that cheese, any form of crisps, yoghurt, chocolate or any milky drinks or fried or battered food in general, roasted potatoes etc and oily fish are the worst offenders. I manage to tolerate wholemeal toast with a thin spread of Bertolli light and marmalade for breakfast. I don't usaually have lunch as my appetite is much reduced at the moment (mainly out of fear) and at night I have a jacket potato with either baked beans, tuna or prawns and light salad cream. I do have Rich Tea biscuits with a cup of tea with Lactofree milk in it. I seem to be ok with making a 2 egg omelette mixed with 2 tablespoons water and a sprinkling of mixed herbs and cooking fat free in a non stick pan. Sometimes I am ok with pasta, sweetcorn and tuna.

    It is really boring to see everyone tuck into their food and you can't have anything. One treat I seem to get away with is a Crunchie.

    Having said all this an attack can come on and you can't for the life of it think what you might have eaten to cause it. When it happens to me (I am just getting over a vomitting attack) I do not eat or drink much for two days. The attacks usually take 2 - 3 days to subside.

    Good luck and hope you get as good a Consultant as I saw.

    • Moonday Moonday Gemini

      I'm very similar to you.   I've only recently been diagnosed with gallstones after having a very painful attack.   And like you I've lost weight - food definitely is the enemy.   I didn't realise I would be allowed rich tea biscuits .... yum, that's something I can add to my diminished list!   I also poach an egg and quite often have that for breakfast.  My appetite is very reduced because I seem to be "full-up" after the tiniest meal.  The longest I've experienced an attack is 11 hours and that was VERY tiring - you must have been totally exhausted after 2/3 days.  I've had various tests and I'm seeing the surgeon in a couple of weeks, although my doctor has told me that the surgeon requires even more tests.   So, I hope to have something done SOON.

  • Marco01 Marco01

    Thanks guys. I have tried to restrict myself more and more, but it seems it has got to the point where I am afraid to eat anything.

    On top of that, I LOVE food ... everyone knows that there is something wrong with me as I am not eating like I usually do. sad

    A few things that I have noticed about the attacks is that they usually start in the evening. Each time I have had one it has been on a day where I have eaten a lot (although sometimes the attacks might start some 4 or 5 hours since I had last eaten anything).

    I have also noticed that bread, cheese, meat, especially Pork, and chocolate make things worse. I am guessing these don't come as much of a suprise.

    I will definitely start eating more soups, salads, fruit and rice/pasta.

    I'm not sure about totally cutting out all fats. I would have thought that saturated fats are the ones to avoid, although it would probably be a good idea to minimise fats in the diet anyhow. Is it OK to take Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil tablets? And how about fish like Tuna and Sardines? I can handle not eating meat, but cutting out fish too would be difficult.

    In the meantime, I just want to get my appetite back as my stomach feels very acidic, which in itself may be contributing to the nausea.


    • welshwoman welshwoman Marco01

      I was advised before leaving the hospital after my first attack of pain to stick to less than 5% fat in a meal, to eat smaller meals , avoid spices, avoid alcohol and go to skimmed milk. I did this but what you can eat is greatly reduced and boring and soul destroying. I only had 2 painful attacks in 18 months following this regime and lost 3 stone. So this is only a diet you can follow while waiting for Gallbladder removal. While this worked for me it may not be so for others as we all have Gallbladders that are in different stages of function. Eventually the Gallbladder stops working over time and with some people it can be quicker than others. This is why for some certain diets work and for others nothing works which mean the Gallbladder is useless.


    • Moonday Moonday Marco01

      Two things here:  I'm a firm believer in raw virgin coconut oil and this type of oil is ok.  Having said that I'm so afraid to eat fat I haven't take it for weeks now, although I use it topically on the soles of my feet.  Secondly, perhaps your nausea should be treated with something like Omeprazole to counteract the acid.

    • elaine13827 elaine13827 Marco01

      It's anything with fat or grease in it........I am currently eating fruits & veggies ..............I can't drink coffee or tea......too acidic for me.............fresh tuna cooked with out grease, canned without would have to ask your DR about cod liver oil & fish oil tablets...................I was told a very low fat program to avoid pain.  I hope that you feel better now.

  • vixen vixen

    you still need to eat!! there is no point in getting scared of food - food is your friend and a good uptake of protien and vitamins will help you to get over your surgery!! malnutrician will prolong your recovery!! yes you will get protien and iron from pork and chocolate - but if these foods cause pain you will need to find alternatives!!

    you need to find a diet that suits you - you need to eat - even if that means changing your eating habits. lots of fruit and veg, very lean cuts of meat cooked with no extra fat, boil or bake potatoes instead of roasties, add no fat to sauces - find low fat recipies of your favorite dishes - make dishes from scratch rather than use convience foods (know what you add to it). my main sorce of protien used to be cheese and nuts and i had to find alternatives i now eat these but less than before i use a lot more pulses.

    it is all about finding altrenative foods that suit your needs.

    sorry if i sound preachy - but low fat is the best way to get the nutrician you need - to be fit for surgery- and find a way of eating that does not cause you pain and suffering!!

  • Gemini Gemini

    A few other things I have thought of. I also have two other conditions - Barrett's muscosa and a large hiatus hernia so its a little difficult to know what is causing what. I avoid onions, use vegetable oil instead of olive, tuna in brine, no meat, no bananas I found I had attacks 2 days after having chicken so have stopped eating that. I can have a Chinese meal of prawn chow mein and ask the people for no onion in it and to use vey little fat. You need to get wholegrains to help your acidic tum. Wholemeal bread, pasta or brown rice. My Consultant told me there is fat in all meals. Its just knowing how to prepare them and which fats to avoid. It's a miserable time. I am quite prepared to always have low fat type foods but just want to get rid of the fear of an attack. I have just had to cut a holiday short because of an attack on Monday evening, resulting in being sick 3 times on Tuesday and feeling really unwell until Thursday evening. Lets hope there is some relief for us soon.

    • elaine13827 elaine13827 Gemini

      I hope you are feeling better now.  My daughter has had a problem for 3 weeks and finally went to the Md.  They ordered a test and her gallbladder is not funtioning properly.  It will be removed Dec 30 2016.  She can only eat plain white crackers, chicken noodle soup and water, some cooked veggies, white rice and baked potatoes and no meat.

  • vixen vixen

    gemini, i know nothing about your barrets mucosa - and my hernia was incisional rather than hietal - as it is you have 3 different conditions, it may be worth seeing if you can get help from a dietician (ask your gp) who can guide you with recipes and plans as to what you can eat for best results.

    good luck for your surgery on the 25th - let us know how you get on.


  • Guest Guest


    I am waiting for surgery to have my gallbladder removed and I have found that living on a fat free diet cuts down on pain, I have also found that I cannot tolerate white bread, coffee, any red meat, eggs, oily fish (altough can eat tinned tuna) and potatoes. I suppose it is a matter of trying foods and then eliminating if necessary. I am eating pasta, rice, loads of fruit and vegs, chicken, seafood, wholemeal bread, quorn - strangely enough I can tolerate chillis and curries, it doesn't seem to matter how hot and spicy it is as long as it is fat free. One thing that does surprise me is I cannot even tolerate skimmed milk which seems strange as it is fat free. I am avoiding alcohol (feel my liver is getting enough of a battering as it is without adding to it) I drink herbal teas and water but not sparkling as anything gassy sets me off as well!

    I found it really hard to start with as I love cooking and used to cook with loads of olive oil, cheese ect! but this is probably what caused my gallstones!!!! it is just a matter of adapting recipes, cooking with a spray oil and I have found Rosemary Conley recipes very helpful as she follows a fat free diet.

    Good luck with your tests, hope this helps :D

  • Gemini Gemini

    Hi Vixen Barrett's is where the cells in the gullet (which are normally skin like) have changed or have always been like the cells of the stomach. I have a 4cm segment of inflamation. The diet recommended is similar to that of anyone suffering acid reflux. I have to be on Omeprazole for life and have regular check ups (it can be pre malignant) I have already had a hernia op across my navel and now they have discovered a hiatus hernia. I have been unwell for some time and it was thought to be a digestive possible hernia problem hence the gastroscopy. Luckily for me the Consultant said he wanted me to have an ultrascan to check for gallstones - which they found complete with thickened gallbladder. I think I have had these conditions for years but came to a head when I started getting the severe chest pain. I was referred to another Consultant who is great. He assures me all my problems have been from the gallbladder and that it must come out.

    My family can't wait to see me eating properly again but of course I will still be restricted by the other conditions. I just want the attacks to stop.

    This site has been so helpful, reassuring and supportive. When I first found it I read out some of the experiences to my husband and it was like reading the diary I had been keeping. What a pity our GP's are not always alerted by our symptons.

    Here's hoping we all get the relief we need. Thanks to everyone.

  • Marco01 Marco01

    Hi guys - you're right, I shouldn't stop eating, it's just that since Tuesday I have been a bit apprehensive about eating, mostly down to the nausea and strange churning sensations I am getting. Oh, and not wanting to have another attack.

    It is possible acutally that most of what I am feeling right now is actually caused by hunger. I had some fruit this morning and am going to microwave one of those quickcook ricebags - it's fairly boring but still tastes better than plain rice!

    I will have to work things up slowly until I feel a bit more confident, but to be honest, right now I really just feel pretty awful sad I am seeing my GP on Thurs and will ask about seeing a nutritionist. In the meantime, I will keep a food diary.

    I am hoping that it is just the gallstones. I am only 28 so I hope that there are not any other conditions that are contributing to this. That being said, the attack that landed me in hospital showed up as me having an infected gallbladder which spread to the liver. My Kidneys took quite a beating then too, but luckily it was addressed fairly quickly.

    This is no fun, and everyone is going out for Pizza tonight :?

  • Benny Blanco Benny Blanco

    Steamed vegetables are really good for you, carrots, swede, broccoli, baby sweetcorn, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts and of course new potatoes with the skins on, none of them should cause any / much discomfort (well except flatulence :oops: ). So yes theres no need to starve yourself, get some food down ya (small portions at first) smile

  • vixen vixen

    gemini thanks for explaining - you poor thing having gallstones on top of the other stuff - i am lucky my gallbladder problems are the only real medical problem i have that i can remember - as a child i had to have my tonsils removed but remember only positves (i was pre school) like getting new pjs and a toilet bag with a soap holder - i felt very proud and grown up not havingto share with my parents!! i have been on a restricted diet most of my life, lacking an enzyme to digest meat - but again this has become a way of life since before i was two.

    Marco - i had liver problems due to gallstone obstruction, and it was horrible, i kind of got into a habit of eating every few days when i felt like it. i was eventually getting round to eating, i was hungry for the first time in 2 days and cooking my dinner when i got a call from a consaultants secretaryrang me and told me my dr had had my blood results back and i was being admitted as an emergency there and then. i didnt get my food and attended hospital - only to be labled nil by mouth and remaind so for 5 days.. after this i found it hard to get back into eating- my mum tried to tempt me with all sorts- i was too scared to eat. once i was back home i tried to get the optimum nutrician from the least amount of food. i needed to help my own recovery as much as i could. i eventually found what suited me and stuck too it... once i started eating again i realised that the nausea was related to not eating and would come back if i was late for a meal or skipped it. it took time to get back into a regular eating pattern but i got used to it - i kept snacks (fruit etc) in easy reach at work - so if my lunch was delayed i could at least snack on somthing healthy to stave off the nausea of being hungry.... also if dinner was taking longer i would have somthing small, while cooking so as i could eventually eat what i had cooked ... going out was a nightmare - i did go to a friends hen party and had a plate of veggies before as we would be eating late (they were great, it was italian and they cooked me a special fat free sauce once i had spent 30 mins explaining every thing on the phone to them).

    the worst was starving for my op - i felt sick - but not nerves, but is was worth it!!

    all the best with finding what suits you in the eating department. hope you get thins sorted soon.


  • Marco01 Marco01

    Happy Easter all. I am surrounded by chocolate and cake and am not even tempted. My family are shocked and astounded! My aunt just checked to see if I have a temperature :lol:

    Anyhow, Easter lunch will be roast lamb with vegetables (Roast Potatoes, Steamed Carrots, and Spinach). I will try and eat something but might give the potatos a miss. I will take it easy on the Lamb too and see how I go.

    I managed to eat more yesterday afternoon but I still have this odd tense sensation in my stomach. I have a constant feeling as though food is just sitting there undigested. I will just have to put up with it for now until I am seen again. Hopefully it is mostly down to nerves.

    Vixen - eating at work will definitely have to change. Luckily we have a microwave in the office so I will make sure I have soups with me, but also bring along lots of veg (carrots, celery, peppers) to snack on as well as fruit. Also, I think I need to address my eating regime as in having a more consistent eating habit i.e. not skipping breakfast, eating meals at the same time each day etc. I'm sure all of this will help somewhat.

    So have you actually had your Gallbladder out? How long ago was this and have you noticed a difference in your digestive wellbeing? I am somewhat apprehensive as I have read a lot of downsides to removal and so am interested in other people's experiences.


  • vixen vixen

    marco - galbladder went 3 years ago, and i am not missing it. after an inital hicup a week after discharge (resolved in48 hours) i can pretty much eat anything now and have not had digestive issues - the only time i have problems is skipping meals, if i dont eat for too long i get nauseous due to too much bile sitting there doing nothing - if i ignore the nausea i have been sick occasionally but now i have worked it out i can control it. if i am eating late eg going out for a meal, i will have a small snack at my normal time.

    my gb was in very bad shape - i am better off without it!!

    all the best


  • Gemini Gemini

    Hi Vixen I am trying to take onboard your advice. I have known for a while that I have not been getting the nutrients I need. It's hard when nothing tastes the same and there is always that fear of an attack. As it is only 2 weeks to my op I am trying to eat some fruit etc. as well as my wholemeal toast. I always try to ensure I have some protein too. Not feeling too good today but think it may be more a hayfever issue. I have now lost 3st 6lbs and the greyness of my skin is making me look older than my 61 years (in my view). My hubbie says he always knows when I am not well just by looking at my face. I have been trying to lose weight for most of my 40 years marriage to no avail and then it just drops off.

    Here's to better days.

  • Benny Blanco Benny Blanco

    Losing stones in weight due to GI problems is about average as is the grayness sad It does get better after the op / s though smile Yes try and keep the weight off afterwards if thats what you prefer :D

  • Gemini Gemini

    Thanks Dr Spock. Now may our ask our 2 experts Vixen and Dr Spock a question? I have all the daigrams, info etc on the gallbladder but wonder if you can tell me if something I am experiencing is a gallbladder thing too (knowing that pain etc can be away from the gallbladder area). When I went for my ultrascan the doctor put the scanner on what I call my tummy and it made me groan as it felt so tender. I have for a short time been aware of a tenderness that I have not been aware of since that scan. I will now try to explain where. Going from the navel across to the right about 4\"- 6\" across. It's not a pain as such just a fluttery tenderness.

    I had a large hernia repair on my navel in 1997 so its a sensitive area anyway.

    My main pain has been in the centre of my chest which is now under control with careful eating and the pain is usually in a band around my chest round to my back and all over my back when I am having a vomit or feeling ill attack.

    What do you think? Thanks.

  • Benny Blanco Benny Blanco

    An inflamed Gallbladder can effect all the bits and pieces surrounding it so its hard to say exactly what your pain is :? Maybe you can get your GP to give it a poke next time you are there smile

  • vixen vixen

    gemini, maybe as you have had previous surgery in that area and as you say it is tender that was the cause of the discomfort. i had an utrasound 8 weeks post op and it was quite uncomfortable as the person performing the scan could not easily veiw the stump because of scar tissue and had to press quite hard in places!!

    just a thought - mention it to your dr if you are concerned.


  • Guest Guest

    Hi all

    I know that my tummy is tender all the while, I have put that down to my gallbladder being inflamed because of all the stones in there. I cannot bend for any length of time say like gardening that really hurts. When I went to see the Consultant he was gaving a poke around pressed my gallbladder and I about shot off the bed :shock:



Report as inappropriate

Thanks for your help!

Already approved

You can't report this, it's already been approved by a moderator.

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.