Gallbladder Diet: What to Eat & What to Avoid

Updated in July 2022

The gallbladder can flare-up when gallstones start to accumulate, which can happen after eating high-fat or fried foods. During flare-ups, consumption of these types of foods should be reduced or eliminated completely. 

You should also increase fluid intake during flare-ups, which can be done by drinking more water or natural juices or eating foods with high water content. This can help to reduce symptoms associated with gallbladder flare-ups like pain and abdominal discomfort. 

Diet is a fundamental part of treatment for a gallbladder flare-up, however it should not replace the medical treatment prescribed by a doctor. 

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What to eat during a gallbladder flare 

During a gallbladder flare-up, you should eat food that is low in fat and high in water content, such as: 

  • Fruit, like apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, kiwi, figs, cherries, blackberries, melon or raspberries 
  • Vegetables, particularly boiled veggies 
  • Oats and whole grains, like whole wheat pasta, rice and bread
  • Tubercles, like potatoes, yams, and sweet potato;
  • Skim milk and dairy products, depending on each person’s tolerance 
  • Plant-based drinks, like rice milk, almond milk or oat milk 
  • Lean meat, like skinless chicken, fish and turkey 
  • Drinks, like water, natural juices and teas 

While the type of food is important, the way they are prepared can also play a role in gallbladder treatment. You should try to eat cooked foods (as raw can be harder to digest), and opt for steaming vegetables or grilling proteins. These cooking methods usually do not require the addition of fat.

What to avoid eating during a gallbladder flare

Foods that are high in fat should be reduced or eliminated from the diet temporarily, as these can stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder. Examples of food to avoid include: 

  • Fatty fruits, like coconut and avocado
  • Whole milk and yogurt 
  • Yellow cheese, like parmesan and cheddar
  • Butter or any animal fat
  • Fatty cuts of meat, like ribs, sausage or organ meat 
  • Cold cuts, like prosciutto or mortadella 
  • Nuts, like walnuts, chestnuts, almonds or peanuts 
  • Fatty fishes, like tuna, salmon and sardines 
  • Processed foods, like chocolate, cookies, puff pastry, meat-based broths and premade sauces 

In addition, you should avoid eating frozen and pre-made meals, like pizza and lasagna, as well as fast food and alcohol. You should read nutritional labels and opt for choices that are lower in fat.

Some patients report that they may have specific foods that trigger gallbladder flare-ups, or foods that cause other symptoms like gas and bloating which can provoke flare-ups. 

Sample 3-day meal plan

The following table outlines a meal plan for gallbladder flares that is aimed at relieving symptoms: 

Meal Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast 2 slices of bread with scrambled eggs + 1 cup of orange juice  2 medium pancakes with fruit compote + ½ a banana 1 cup of coffee + oatmeal 
Morning snack 1 cup of Jello 1 cup of watermelon juice  1 cup of Jello
Lunch or dinner 1 grilled chicken breast + 4 tablespoons of rice + 1 cup of cooked vegetables, like carrots and green beans + 1 apple  1 fillet of grilled fish with mashed potatoes + salad made with lettuce, tomato and onion with a scant amount of balsamic vinegar + 2 slices of pineapple  Zucchini noodles with minced turkey meat and homemade tomato sauce + 1 cup of strawberries 
Afternoon snack 1 cup of sliced melon 1 cup of microwave popcorn with no fat  1 apple, baked in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon 

The quantities indicated in this meal plan will vary with age, sex, health history and activity level. Ideally, you should see a registered dietitian for a more thorough assessment so that a customized nutritional plan that meets your health needs can be developed.