What Should I Avoid Eating with Gallstones?

Ask a Doctor

I was just diagnosed with gallstones. The doctor told me I needed to adjust my diet. I’m willing to do that, but his instructions were vague. What foods should I avoid to prevent a gallbladder attack?

Doctor’s Response

The gallbladder is an organ that stores digestive enzymes that are used by the body to break down fatty foods in the diet. A diet heavy in fatty foods can lead to gallstones, which are small stone-like bodies made of cholesterol and bile salts. Gallstones start out very small and gradually get bigger, eventually causing problems with the flow of digestive enzymes from the gallbladder. Once they form, there are very few ways to get rid of them.

When you eat a meal, the gallbladder contracts to push the digestive enzymes into the intestine. If there are gallstones in the gallbladder they can block the contractions, which can be quite painful (gallbladder attack). Avoiding certain types of foods can lessen the chance of gallstone complications.

Foods to avoid if you have been diagnosed with gallstones include fatty foods such as:

  • Fried foods (fried chicken, French fries, potato chips)
  • High fat dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, ice cream)
  • Fatty meats (beef, pork)
  • Processed meats (bacon, ham, sausage)
  • Alcohol
  • Creamy sauces and rich dressings (cheese sauces, mayonnaise, creamy salad dressings)
  • Lard or oil

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health Information Center.
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Gallstones.
November 2017.
9 November 2018

Salam F Zakko, MD, FACP, AGAF.
Patient education: Gallstones (Beyond the Basics).
21 February 2018.
9 November 2018